Historical Markers
Summerseat Historical Marker
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Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
At site, Legion Ave., near Hillcrest Ave., Morrisville

Dedication Date:
January 27, 1949

Behind the Marker

General George Washington used "Mr. Berkely's Summer Seat" as his field headquarters for about a week, from Sunday, December 8, to Saturday December 14, 1776. The Continental Army was in retreat after its defeat in northern New Jersey and, after hastily fleeing the city of Philadelphia, the Continental Congress was in full flight to Baltimore. It was a chaotic period, arguably one of the darkest of the war for the patriots.
Photo of a large two-story brick house used as Washington's headquarters in 1776.
 Summerseat, Bucks County, PA.

Washington's ability to regroup his troops during this period and prepare for a surprise post-Christmas crossing of the Delaware River to attack British forces demonstrates his talents as a military strategist and leader. From Summerseat, he removed to a farm near Newtown (Bucks County), in order, he claimed, "to be with the main Body of my small Army." Less than two weeks later, Washington and his poorly clothed, underfed forces surprised and defeated the Hessian mercenaries at Trenton, dramatically reviving American morale.

In 1781, near the end of the war,markerGeneral Anthony Wayne conducted a secret military tribunal at Summerseat. Two British spies were tried for encouraging mutiny among Pennsylvania soldiers in the Continental Army. They were found guilty and executed.

An Englishman named John Wood first settled the area that became Summerseat in 1678. Adam Hoops then purchased the land sometime in the 1760s and built the original residence. His son-in-law Thomas Barclay came into possession of the property in 1773 and erected the mansion that still stands, with some additions, today. Barclay, a prominent merchant who subsequently served as a diplomat for the new nation, owned the home during Washington's weeklong stay in 1776.

By the 1790s, however, Barclay was bankrupt and lost the property to creditors. markerRobert Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who had gained fame as "Financier of the Revolution," then came into possession of the home. Yet Morris, one of Pennsylvania's first U.S. Senators (1789-1795), suffered his own financial reversals and entered debtor's prison in 1798. Ownership of the house passed into the hands of markerGeorge Clymer, a merchant who had also signed the Declaration. He died there in 1813. Summerseat is consequently the only home owned separately by two signers of the Declaration.
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