This piece of land has always been called the Bluff, meaning a hill with a broad, steep face. This site's history suggests another meaning for bluff - to hoodwink.
It was here that a delaying tactic permitted an escape, that a fugitive found protection, that a battle of long ago left a still visible mark. Here, the grandest and most elegant of homes were built overlooking the river and stories told of escape routes.
On September 11, 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Edward Rutledge were in a boat being rowed to the Billop House. They had been sent by the Continental Congress to confer with Admiral Lord Howe and his brother, General William Howe. Although this meeting did not stop the war, British action was delayed while Washington and his troops escaped to New Jersey after the disastrous battle of Long Island.
This watercolor by Baroness Hyde de Neuville shows Perth Amboy and Staten Island on July 28, 1809. The steamboat is the Raritan, built by Robert Fulton in 1808 to carry passengers and cargo between New York and New Brunswick. The large house on the opposite shore is the Billop House, while in the background are the Navesink Hills of Monmouth County.
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In July of 1776, there was an exchange of fire between colonists on the Jersey shore firing at a British ship anchored in the harbor. The return fire caused damage to tombstones in St. Peter's Churchyard.
Photograph courtesy Louis P. Boor
"Pleasant View," the Truxton House c. 1912, is seen at left with beach below the Bluff. On July 22, 1804, Aaron Burr, shortly after he mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton, landed on this beach, seeking help from Commodore Thomas Truxton. The Commodore, observing the Sabbath, insisted Burr spend the entire Sunday in Perth Amboy before seeing him off to Philadelphia in the morning.
Stories of tunnels dug from the elegant homes to the beaches below, allowing secret boat escapes, have been told but never verified. The Truxton House was demolished in 1935.