Within this building…the Council of Safety for New Jersey was organized March 18, 1777. Herein, also, in September, of the same year, the Legislature unanimously resolved that hereafter the word ‘State’ should be substituted for ‘Colony’ in all public writs and commissions.
The Indian King Tavern, built c1750 by a wealthy Philadelphia merchant and ship owner named Matthias Aspden, is a fine example of an early American public house and tavern.
The tavern was originally built as a three-and-one-half story brick building. By 1764, it had been enlarged to 24 rooms with five cellars. On its north elevation, a two-story addition was constructed. Commonly referred to as “the ark,” this part of the building was used in connection with tavern operations.
Thomas Redman purchased the property in 1775. Redman, a Quaker, quickly raised the ire of local patriots with his outspoken pacifism. In January 1777, he was arrested and jailed for his frequent public pacifist readings. Shortly after his release from prison in May of that same year, he sold the tavern to Hugh Creighton.
Creighton continued to operate the premises as a tavern and inn, retaining Thomas Smith, the innkeeper for previous owner Thomas Redman. Before long, Smith and the tavern’s new owner found themselves at the center of political events that would forever change the course of history for the colony of New Jersey and the nation.