WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS ON WASHINGTON HEIGHTS.
Jumel restored the mansion to the same condition in which it was in Washington's time, thus performing a very valuable public service. When the house finally passed into the possession of the city for all time, it greatly simplified the work of making the restoration complete.
During the Jumel occupation the old house continued to add to its historic reputation. In 1815, after Waterloo, Jumel sailed for France for the purpose of bringing back the great Napoleon here to end his days in exile.
But the plan failed and Napoleon died in St. Helena. The Jumels brought back many presents from Napoleon and souvenirs of his reign. His campaigning trunk, a chariot clock from the Tuilleries, a table painted by Josephine and numerous pieces of furniture remained in the house as late as 1889. Stephen Jumel died in 1832 and was buried in old St. Patrick's Cathedral, then in Prince Street.
The next year all New York was stirred by the news that Mme. Jumel had married the notorious Aaron Burr. Since the duel with Hamilton, Burr's fortunes had fallen to a low ebb and the marriage was looked upon as a money-making scheme. The union did not last long and a separation and divorce soon followed. Mme. Jumel died in 1865, surviving by many years all who connected the Morris House with the Revolution, and was buried in old Trinity Cemetery, at One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street and Broadway, but a slight distance from the old home in which for so many years she was so prominent a figure.
A niece of Mme. Jumel then occupied the house for many years. Her husband studied law with Burr, and his friends included N. P. Willis and his sister Fanny Fern; James Porter, the poet; Mrs. Blennerhasset and many other literary friends. Fitz-Greene Halleck, on one of his many visits here, wrote his most famous poem, "Marco Bozzaris," on a stone in the rear of the house which is still pointed out.
By this time the people of New York became aroused to the historic importance of this house, and after many attempts the property was finally secured by the city through the Washington Heights Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, assisted by the Society of the Sons of the Revolution. It was then formally opened to the public.
Each room now contains many interesting items and is designated by name, so that the contents are readily identified.
The most important is called the Council Chamber, and is the large room at the back of the hall. In Washington's time it was known as the Court Martial Room, and contains one of Washington's china plates decorated with the insignia of the Cincinnati. In this room Washington received visits of the sachems of the Five Nations who offered their allegiance to the American cause. The Guard Room has many relics discovered in the neighborhood by Mr. Reginald Pelham Bolton, and Mr. Calver, another enthusiast, who discovered a goodly number of old camp sites, graves and other hidden remains of Revolutionary days, containing muskets, buttons, old cooking utensils, uniforms, coins, etc.
Washington's bedroom is, of course, an object of particular interest. There are few remaining houses where the father of his country slept for so many nights as in the Morris House. This room is now furnished with colonial furniture, of a character the same as used by Washington while here. The office is also interesting, as indeed is every room which the commander-in-chief is known to have occupied personally.
The Lafayette Room is on the second floor and contains the richly carved bed and sofa actually used by Lafayette on. his visit to Charleston, S. C., and one of his gloves.
On the second floor in the hall is a copy of the flag used by Washington two and a half years before the making of Betsy Ross' design. It is the English flag, with red and white stripes substituted for the plain red field. Other important items in the house is the Washington table from Fraunces Tavern, Aaron Burr's trunk, Governor Bradford's punch bowl, Governor Trumbull's chair and many other colonial relics appropriately disposed throughout the building.
The run up to the old headquarters takes not over half an hour and is worth the time. In Trinity Cemetery (this must not be confused with Trinity Church Yard, downtown), not far from the Jumel Mansion, are also many interesting things to see. The late John Jacob Astor, who perished on the Titanic, is buried here, as is also Audubon, the great naturalist, and Clement Moore, who wrote that pretty little poem known by children the world over,
"Twas the Night before Christmas"
Every Christmas, the school children of New York gather around the grave and bedeck it with flowers. It is a beautiful tribute.
A son of Charles Dickens who died during a visit to this country is also buried here; so we have a reminder of that other great Christmas story, "Tiny Tim."