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Street Beat: The Rebellious Rivington in Our Midst
Hear ye, Rivington Rebels? Why is Rivington called Rivington?
Our beloved street was named after a Loyalist (Tory) printer who doubled as spy for George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
James Rivington ran his Royal Gazette from Wall Street and was one of the most regarded Loyalist printers of the time.
…an English bookseller and publisher who relocated to New York’s Wall Street after his London business failed Rivington fiercely denounced the rebels in his newspaper, Rivington’s Gazette, inciting a mob of revolutionaries to burn his house and demolish his press in 1775. Two years later, he returned from a stay in England and—according to recent scholarship, at least—switched sides to work as a spy for the revolting colonists. A coffeehouse adjacent [(Tontine?)] to Rivington’s rebuilt shop doubled as a meeting place for high-ranking British officers, and primary documents from the period suggest that the newly pro-patriot printer shared their secrets with George Washington himself.
Rivington was hung in effigy by the Sons of Libery on April 13, 1775; he published a print of the hanging in the April 20, 1775 issue. That image is below:
Throughout the war and afterward, Rivington would be attacked by mobs constantly. They burned his shop, they melted his presses to make bullets and even still, Rivington’s response was to apologize:
When British Troops evacuated New York, Rivington remained. A loyal (no pun, intended) man – devoted to his beliefs no matter the cost.
So next time you walk along Rivington. Take a moment to think of the rebellious Rivington who helped Washington win the war…Here’s to a mighty foolishly brave man. We salute you.