Golden Hill – New York’s 1770 Bunker Hill … before there was a Bunker Hill

My notes said that a Golden or a Golder was somehow associated the Battle of Golden Hill but was unable to confirm any such association. However, this is an interesting, relatively unknown part of American history … and the word Golden is involved.

From Wikipedia – The Battle of Golden Hill:

The Battle of Golden Hill was a clash between British soldiers and the Sons of Liberty in the American colonies that occurred on January 19, 1770 in New York City. Along with the Boston Massacre and the Gaspée Affair, the event was one of the early violent incidents in what would become the American Revolution.

Wikipedia article on Battle of Golden Hill
Wikipedia article on Battle of Golden Hill
Map of Golden Hill - Manhattan, New York
Map of Golden Hill – Manhattan, New York // Source: NYFreedom.com

On January 19, 1770, six weeks before the Boston Massacre, Isaac Sears and others tried to stop some soldiers from posting handbills. Sears captured some of the soldiers and marched his captives towards the mayor’s office, while the rest of the British soldiers ran to the barracks to sound the alarm. A crowd of townsfolk arrived along with a score of soldiers. The soldiers were surrounded and badly outnumbered. Another squad of soldiers arrived and the officer gave the order “Soldiers, draw your bayonets and cut your way through them.” More soldiers arrived and a group of officers arrived to disperse the soldiers before the situation got totally out of hand. Several of the soldiers were badly bruised and one a had a serious wound. Some of the townsfolk were wounded and one had been fatally stabbed.

Golden Hill was actually a high hill but it was flattened as the city grew. It was supposedly the highest point at the tip of Manhattan—a place of an “abundant crop of grain, which it said waved gracefully in response to the gentle breeze and looked, in truth, like a hill of gold,” per an 1898 New York Times article. (3)

However, another source notes that Golden Hill got its name from when the Dutch arrived in the early 1600s and they found a field that was filled with yellow celandine flowers (called ‘gouwe’). The Dutch named the area Gouwenberg, and the British renamed it Golden Hill. (4)

This is what Golden Hill or Golden’s Hill looks like today as it graces the adjourning New York Federal Reserve building:

Golden Hill New York Federal Reserve

Although no one was killed, the Battle of Golden Hill was the first significant clash between citizens and British troops as the colonies moved toward revolution. Several New Yorkers had been wounded in a similar confrontation three years earlier, but Golden Hill was a more direct challenge to the British and the wounds suffered by the patriots were more severe.

Learn More / Sources:

(1) Wikipedia Overview of 1770 Battle of Golden Hill
(2) NYFreedom.com Battle of Golden Hill
(3) Ephemeral New York – Chronicling an ever changing city in search for its artifacts.
(4) Forgotten New York
(5) Google Search for Battle of Golden Hill, New York

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