This past Monday was President’s Day. It is on this day every year that we honor and remember Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The origin of this day, which is officially Washington’s birthday; began in the 1880s when the birthday of Washington, the first president of the United States, was celebrated as a federal holiday.
In the spirit of this historic day, we want to share with you how the Caldwell family played a role of their own in stamping their mark in history as well. It all centers around Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, located in Newburgh, NY. The Caldwell Family was actually involved in purchasing Washington’s Headquarters, a national landmark that was acquired and opened by the State of New York in 1850.
During Revolutionary times, this historic place was actually called “The Hasbrouck Property” and the house was referred to as “The Old Hasbrouck House." It was a cherished heirloom to the Hasbrouck family, particularly to Jonathan Hasbrouck. Due to financial difficulties, he mortgaged the property to the “Commissioners of the United States Deposit Fund” in 1848. One of the commissioners was Mr. Andrew J. Caldwell, of Salisbury Mills, who felt the pain of the Hasbrouck family losing this cherished possession. Caldwell became a custodian of the property and was pressured by many private properties to sell the property to them.
Mr. Caldwell knew that this cherished piece of history simply could not be turned over to an individual owner. He communicated with Hon. Hamilton Fish, the then Governor of the State to suggest the State of New York stake its claim on this historic site. The governor favored Caldwell’s suggestions and agreed to help ensure that it would remain public grounds, to be honored and preserved. It was also decided then, in 1850, that it would be called Washington’s Headquarters.
There were some important contributions made during Washington’s time at Newburgh. According to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, it was here that Washington “rejected the idea that he should be king after the war; ended the Newburgh conspiracy, preventing military control of the government; created and awarded the Badge of Military Merit, forerunner of the Purple Heart; and circulated a letter to State Governors that influenced the writing of the Constitution.”