July 2009

This Fourth of July, we not only commemorate Independence Day, but a new beginning for The American Revolution Center, its partners and friends. In this inaugural issue of our newsletter, Revolutionary Times, we would like to share the news that the site of our proposed museum will be relocated from Valley Forge to Philadelphia's historic district.

We are grateful to our Chairman, H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, our Board, and Governor Edward G. Rendell, for their support of this project. We also thank the many friends of this great cause who have stood with us over the years.

As The American Revolution Center moves forward to establish a museum in the birthplace of our Nation, we will continue to engage the public in the history and significance of the American Revolution and its enduring legacy.

Sincerely yours,

Bruce Cole

President and CEO

From left to right: H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, Dr. Bruce Cole and Governor Edward G. Rendell


On June 29, 2009, The American Revolution Center (ARC) signed an historic Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service (NPS) which will enable ARC to establish a national museum dedicated to the American Revolution in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. The new site for the museum is at 3rd and Chestnut Streets in downtown Philadelphia, which is situated within Independence National Historical Park. In exchange for this site, NPS will acquire a 78-acre parcel of land owned by ARC within the legislated boundary of Valley Forge National Historical Park.

The move to Philadelphia's historic district marks a new beginning for the Center, according to ARC Chairman H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest. "The American Revolution Center is a critical project for our Nation. We have expended extraordinary time and resources to locate the Center in Valley Forge, and while I believe that our vision there could have been achieved, our efforts have consistently been met with significant obstacles. We now believe that it is in our best interest to begin a new chapter for ARC, and I cannot think of a more appropriate setting than Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia."

In its new location, ARC will be near several important landmarks and historical institutions associated with the American Revolution, including the Liberty Bell Center, the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, the American Philosophical Society, Carpenters' Hall, and many others. ARC will work together with these and other local, national and international institutions to further the public's understanding of the American Revolution and its ongoing legacy.

The news of ARC's move to Philadelphia has received local, regional and national media coverage. On July 7, an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer declared "Victory in Sight" for ARC, calling the move an "exciting new strategy" that, for Philadelphia's historic district and its millions of yearly visitors, "should have lifted spirits like a July Fourth fireworks extravaganza."


ARC's new wordmark was inspired by the stars in the Commander-in-Chief's Standard, one of the national treasures in ARC's collection.

The Center is grateful to the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution (PSSR) for their $50,000 grant that will support the conservation of one of the most important historical treasures in ARC's collection, the Commander-in-Chief's Standard. The Standard is one of the most significant surviving flags of the American Revolution. It was donated to the Valley Forge Historical Society (ARC's predecessor) in the early 20th century by Miss Francis B. Lovell, a descendant of Washington's sister, Betty Washington Lewis. The Standard is traditionally identified as having been used to mark General Washington's presence at headquarters and in the field. It is composed of a rectangular panel of light blue plain weave silk measuring 27 7/8" high by 36 1/8" wide, with 13 appliqued white silk stars arranged in a rectilinear pattern. A portion of the original natural colored linen hoist survives as well. In addition to repairs and stabilization of the fragile material, the conservators will continue forensic analysis of the flag, which has already yielded new information about its original construction and appearance.


Thanks to a generous contribution from The Richard Lounsbery Foundation, ARC is working with La Maison Francaise of the Embassy of France to plan and produce a series of lectures titled "Les Seminars." America and France have enjoyed a long political, cultural and economic relationship that pre-dates the American Revolution. The program will pair distinguished French and American experts who will explore a variety of political, economic, and scientific issues related to the historic and current relationship between the United States and France. The lectures will be open to the public and are planned for September 2009 - May 2010.


From left to right: Robert J. Bateman, Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden; Dr. Barbara J. Mitnick, ARC Board member; Dennis P. Buttleman, Jr., Curator of the Masonic Library and Museum; and actor Steven Edenbo, portraying Thomas Jefferson.

The American Revolution Center (ARC) was pleased to sponsor the dedication of the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania's exhibition, Rally Round the Constitution on June 14, which includes the Museum's newly restored flag Support, Our Constitution. Dr. Barbara J. Mitnick, a member of ARC's Board of Directors, provided remarks as part of the opening ceremonies.

Dr. Mitnick noted an important link between ARC and the Masonic Library and Museum can be found in the person of George Washington. Washington became the nation's secular hero and a symbol of late 18th century enlightenment thinking, which includes ideas related to freedom and progress, rationality, the replacement of the democratic nation over theocracy, and liberty over tyranny. Likewise, Masonic devotion to "loyalty to country" as well as "the worship of God; truth and justice; fraternity and philanthropy; enlightenment and orderly liberty, civil, religious and intellectual" remind us of the ideals of our founding fathers.

George Washington joined the Fredericksburg, Virginia Masonic Lodge in November 1752, completed the first three degrees of freemasonry in August 1753, and went on to attend meetings in various Masonic lodges during the eight years of the American Revolution. On April 30, 1789, Washington recited the Oath of Office as the first president of the United States with his hand on a Bible owned by St. John Lodge No. 1 in New York. In September 1793, during his second term as president, he laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C wearing his ceremonial Masonic apron, thereby symbolically linking the building of the Capitol with the ancient Temple of Solomon. Also in 1793, he sat for the painter William Williams, who created an important portrait of him as the Master of his Alexandria, Virginia Lodge. He was a lifelong and loyal freemason as well as one of America's greatest founding fathers.

The American Revolution Center will tell the entire story of the American Revolution, including this fascinating aspect of George Washington's life and career.

The American Revolution Center's rich collection of objects, art, manuscripts, and rare books has been assembled over nearly a century, beginning with the 1909 purchase of General George Washington's marquee from Martha Washington's great, great granddaughter, Mary Custis Lee. For nearly 100 years, the collection was housed, and portions of it were displayed, in the Washington Memorial Chapel, founded by Dr. Rev. W. Herbert Burk on the historic grounds of Valley Forge. The collection continues to grow, and now includes a broad array of items that illustrate the long struggle for American Independence and the commemoration of the American Revolution.

"Fighting Parson's" Revolutionary War Pistols

One of the Center's treasures is a sturdy pair of mid-18th century, brass barreled English pistols that were once owned by American Brigadier General Peter Muhlenberg. They provide a window into the history and experiences of the prominent German-American patriot John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg (1746-1807), who has long been known as the "Fighting Parson" of the American Revolution.

The eldest son of Reverend Henry Melchior Muhlenberg (1711-1787), a German minister and founder of the Lutheran Church in North America, Peter was born and raised in Trappe, Pennsylvania and educated at the College of Philadelphia and the University of Halle (Wittenburg, Germany). He served as an ordained Lutheran minister in New Jersey and in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley before Revolutionary politics pulled him from the pulpit to the battlefield.

Peter Muhlenberg embraced the Revolutionary cause, and was among the delegates who listened to Patrick Henry's fiery "Liberty or Death" speech just weeks before the bloody fighting at Lexington and Concord. In January 1776, the Virginia Convention appointed Muhlenberg commander of the Eighth Virginia Regiment. According to family tradition, Muhlenberg mounted the pulpit to preach a farewell sermon wearing a military uniform concealed beneath his clerical robes, which he dramatically revealed as he issued a successful call to arms. Newly promoted to Brigadier General, Muhlenberg fought in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown during the 1777 Philadelphia campaign, and served through the end of the American Revolution.

The Center is currently participating in planning for the upcoming 300th anniversary of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg's birth in 2011, including a collaborative exhibit exploring the many contributions of the Muhlenberg family to the founding of the United States.

For more information on Muhlenberg-related historic sites and activities visit:

The Henry Muhlenberg House (Historical Society of Trappe, Collegeville, Perkiomen Valley)

The Speaker's House: Home of Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg

The Muhlenberg Brigade Encampment Site, Valley Forge National Historical Park

On May 4, Dr. Cole addressed members of the Philadelphia chapter of the SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION and discussed the importance of democratic education and understanding our shared history. The President of the Philadelphia Chapter, Jim Willis, presented Dr. Cole with a Certificate of Appreciation from the NATIONAL SOCIETY OF THE SONS OF THE REVOLUTION, for his achievements in serving the country and promoting the study and understanding of American history and culture.

Jim Willis (left) President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution presents a Certificate of Appreciation to Dr. Bruce Cole.

On May 9, Dr. Cole joined the George Washington Chapter of the SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, in Alexandria, Virginia, to deliver remarks on the purpose and need for the American Revolution Center. Dr. Cole was welcomed by the organization, which was established in 1940 to promote patriotism and historical knowledge of the American Revolution.

On June 20, ARC joined the MONTGOMERY COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE and the KING OF PRUSSIA MALL for a Father's Day Weekend event at the King of Prussia Mall. The program featured Revolutionary War re-enactors sharing stories related to a display of artifacts from ARC's collection.

On July 2-5, ARC participated in Philadelphia's LINCOLN 200 FESTIVAL on Independence Mall. The Festival theme, "Lincoln Then and Now" connected the lasting legacy of Lincoln to today's world. Funds raised from Lincoln 200 benefited Military Families and the Wounded Warrior Project. ARC developed an historical timeline with highlights from its collection tracing the roots, major events and enduring legacy of the American Revolution.