In the North West corner of City Hall Park, next to Broadway, Warren and Chambers Streets, was a location where a group known as the Sons of Liberty erected the Liberty Pole. A symbolic post with flags, whose destruction by British soldiers led to the Battle of Golden Hill – the first official bloodletting of the American Revolution.
This group, including James Alexander and William Smith, had strong opposition to the Crown’s attempt of taxation without representation, certain political rights and governmental structure/process. Various Acts were instigators, but the most famous was the Stamp Act. The concept of the Stamp Act began in 1734 under Governor Crosby. By 1744 the Colonies were to be taxed by means of Stamped Paper. It was attempted as implementation at various times from 1744 to 1765. Each time the citizens raised such resistance each Governor including Clinton and Colden recommended its suspension.
When the Act was attempted a gentlemen named Zacharias Hood was named the Stamp Master. He arrived at the King’s Arms Tavern the Sons of Liberty met him to suggest his resignation before the Stamps could be implemented. He relocated to the Fort south of Bowling Green for protection under Governor Colden.
October 22, 1765 the British Ship ‘Edward’ arrived in New York with Stamps for implementation. The Sons of Liberty wrote on flyers posted around the city a variation of the statement – “The first man that either distributes or makes use of these Stamp Papers – let him take care of his house, person & effects…We Dare. “
The British military vowed to cram the stamps down the Sons of Liberty’s throats with the end of their swords.
On October 31, 1765 the Sons of Liberty responded by vowing as retailers to promise not to buy and goods, wares or merchandise shipped from Britain – unless the Stamp Act is fully repealed.
They were followed by a large group of citizens who protested at the Common ground (today’s City Hall Park), then marched down to Bowling Green and burned an effigy of the Governor as well as his coach. The guns of the Fort located just south of Bowling Green were said to be located and focused on the crowd.
On November 2, 1765 Governor Colden and Lieutenant Bayner handed the decision and Stamps off to Sir Henry Moore to do as he pleases.
On January 16th 1770 after several attempts that month, the British soldiers succeeded in destroying the Liberty Pole. They then broke it apart and laid it in front of the Sons of Liberty’s headquarters on Broadway a short distance from the Liberty Pole base.
On January 18th the Battle of Golden Hill between British soldiers (16th Regiment of Foot) and The Sons of Liberty took place. The area is located on John Street by Cliff and William Street. This is the first blood spilled during the American Revolution, two month before the Boston Massacre. The clash would roll back and forth finally leading to a standoff… but the war had begun.
On February 6, 1770 a fifth Liberty Pole is erected almost 50 feet high.