American history buffs will converge on Morrisville this month “following Washington’s footsteps” in 1776, as part of the borough’s “Revolutionary Weekend.” From August 23rd through 26th, the picturesque Bucks County community, nestled along the Delaware River, celebrates its unique role in the American Revolution.
When Washington crossed the Delaware to flee the British, he first headquartered at Summerseat, a home built in 1764. According to lore, from that second story window Washington viewed enemy activities across the river and began planning his Christmas Day assault on the Hessians.
Summerseat, a National Historic Landmark, was owned by Thomas Barclay; he and Benjamin Franklin were this country’s first diplomats. Barclay sold it to Robert Morris, for whom the borough was named in 1804. Morris later sold it to George Clymer; both Morris and Clymer were signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Summerseat is the first stop in a two and a half hour motorized tour starting in Morrisville. It includes stops at Washington Crossing State Park, Pennsylvania, crossing over to New Jersey and ultimately onto the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, where the battle took place.
Historical interpreters aboard each bus will narrate along the way to describe Washington’s arduous trek on the night of the crossing.
The Revolutionary Weekend also features a performance of “The Man Who Bought a Country,” an original stage musical about the life and times of Robert Morris. Written by Joe Doyle of Morrisville, co-founder and general manager of the Actors’ NET of Bucks County, a small nonprofit theatre in the community, this acclaimed production was first staged in 2004 for the borough’s bicentennial. It enjoyed an encore run in 2005.
Doyle’s musical (book, music and lyrics) chronicles Morris’ amazing contributions to the war effort and the growth of the young country. The wealthy Morris personally financed Washington’s assaults on Trenton, Princeton and the Battle of Yorktown. As Financier of our fledgling government, he was both treasurer and the chief civil officer – with full authority to hire and fire government and military personnel.
He often used his own fortune to keep the war effort afloat – circulating “Morris notes,” which in effect were his IOUs and were considered as good as cash.
Morris signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution, helped found the U.S. Navy and our banking system, and was a Senator in the first U.S. Congress, after turning down Washington’s offer to be the first Secretary of the Treasury. Thus, Alexander Hamilton got the job.
“The Man Who Bought a Country” tells the behind the scenes story of our first Congress and how Morris tragically fell from grace. Prominent characters in the musical include his devoted wife Mary, Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Lafayette, Hamilton and many more.
Cost of the “Revolutionary Weekend” is $90 for adults, $85 for seniors and $80 for children aged 12 and under – including the bus tour and the musical.
It also includes a separate ticket for use any time for free admission to other nearby historic sites and more – special one-man shows featuring historical interpreters of John Adams and William Markham, William Penn’s secretary and twice acting governor of Pennsylvania during Penn’s absence.
Show-only tickets to the Robert Morris musical are $20.
Sponsored by the Morrisville Business Association, in partnership with The Actors’ NET of Bucks County, the Historic Morrisville Society (HMS), Washington Crossing Historic Association and the Old Barracks Museum, space is limited for the Revolutionary Weekend Tour.
Further information and reservations can be obtained on-line at www.aRevolutionaryWeekend.com. Tour-only and show-only reservations are also available.