Built circa 1754 on Olde King's Highway, the Crocker Tavern served as a stage coach stop, an inn, and important meeting place for some of our nation's earliest patriots. Cornelius Crocker, one of the wealthiest men on the Cape, was the first keeper of the Tavern. According to signed documents from the Barnstable Historical Commission, the activities that took place at the Crocker Tavern were "... instrumental in changing the boundaries of America, taking Canada from the French, and then helping to remove this country from England's dominance. Here is an actual structure which was once filled with our Colonial ancestors - lawyers, judges, farmers, merchants, mariners, Indians, slaves, men of honor and wealth and those of lesser means - all contributing to our heritage."

Statue of James Otis
"The First American Patriot"

Under the stewardship of Cornelius Crocker, the inn became the central meeting place for the Whigs (the Patriots) prior to, and during, the Revolutionary War. At the same time the Tories (the Loyalists) gathered less than 100 yards to the west on Olde Kings Highway at the Loring Tavern. The Whigs were led by James Otis, Jr., and 22 others including the Crockers, the Lothrops, and John Davis. The Whigs who met at Crocker Tavern waged a courageous and uphill struggle because the moderate factions of Cape Cod sympathized and sided with the Tories. In order to align the Cape and it's villages in support of the patriotic cause, James Otis, Jr., the Crockers, and the other Whig leaders created a County Committee with regional representation. The purpose of the County Committee, which met regularly at the Crocker Tavern, was in Otis' own words "to meet and consult about what is most proper to be done in this day of difficulty."

As a result, Barnstable and the other towns of the Cape eventually joined the ranks of the rebels. Thus, the patriotic campaign spearheaded at the Crocker Tavern did succeed, and it was a momentous occasion when the Cape militia gathered in front of the Crocker Tavern before marching to Lexington and Concord to fight for American independence.

The Crocker Tavern is both a local, and a national historic landmark particularly because of the role fulfilled by James Otis, Jr. prior to, and during, the American Revolution. Otis was the first American patriot for Barnstable, for the Cape, for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and for all thirteen colonies. Samuel Adams portrayed Otis as more important and essential to the patriotic cause than Patrick Henry, and President John Adams said that "American independence was then and there born as a result of Otis' Writs of Assistance Speech in February, 1761."

The meticulous restoration and careful preservation of the Tavern stirs the imagination of what actually transpired at this site throughout the revolutionary period. Those who visit and stay at the Tavern have a unique opportunity to indulge their curiosity and appreciation for our national heritage and for the birth of American liberty. The Crocker Tavern is Cape Cod's "Cradle of American Liberty."


  

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