Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday mornings I love to watch fishing shows on ESPN...today, however, they've got hunting and outdoors programs. So, in surfing around, I found an interesting website about all things related to the Fourth of July.

James Heintze, American University's assistant university librarian, is the researcher and author of the information on this site. It includes notable July Fourth celebrations and music events, speeches, and a listing of what the presidents did each holiday. It even notes Independence Day weather and cuisine.

"People need to know the history of their country in terms of the impact of the Declaration of Independence and what it means to them today,” continued Heintze, whose 300-page Fourth of July Encyclopedia will be published by McFarland later this fall. (from an article by Adrienne Frank for the American Weekly Summer News)

In reading his history of the "first" holiday celebration, I found the similarities to our current activities somehow reassuring. Enjoy!

Philadelphia, July 4, 1777


One of the most elaborate celebrations in 1777 and the first organized celebration of its kind occurred in Philadelphia. This event had all of the elements of typical future celebrations--the discharge of cannon, one round for each state in the union, the ringing of bells, a dinner, the use of music, the drinking of toasts (it would subsequently be traditional to have one toast for each state in the union), "loud huzzas," a parade, fireworks, and the use of the nation's colors, in this case the dressing up of "armed ships and gallies" in the harbor. The following is a description of the event as printed in a local newspaper:


  • Yesterday the 4th of July, being the Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demonstration of joy and festivity. About noon all the armed ships and gallies in the river were drawn up before the city, dressed in the gayest manner, with the colours of the United States and streamers displayed. At one o'clock, the yards being properly manned, they began the celebration of the day by a discharge of thirteen cannon from each of the ships, and one from each of the thirteen gallies, in honour of the Thirteen United States. In the afternoon an elegant dinner was prepared for Congress, to which were invited the President and Supreme Executive Council, and Speaker of the Assembly of this State, the General Officers and Colonels of the army, and strangers of eminence, and the members of the several Continental Boards in town. The Hessian band of music taken in Trenton the 26th of December last, attended and heightened the festivity with some fine performances suited to the joyous occasion, while a corps of British deserters, taken into the service of the continent by the State of Georgia, being drawn up before the door, filled up the intervals with feux de joie. After dinner a number of toasts were drank, all breaking independence, and a generous love of liberty, and commemorating the memories of those brave and worthy patriots who gallantly exposed their lives, and fell gloriously in defence [sic] of freedom and the righteous cause of their country. Each toast was followed by a discharge of artillery and small arms, and a suitable piece of music by the Hessian band. The glorious fourth of July was reiterated three times accompanied with triple discharges of cannon and small arms, and loud huzzas that resounded from street to street through the city. Towards evening several troops of horse, a corps of artillery, and a brigade of North Carolina forces, which was in town on its way to join the grand army, were drawn up in Second street and reviewed by Congress and the General Officers. The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal. Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen, and amen (Virginia Gazette, 18 July 1777). (emphasis added)

4 comments:

Kate said...

Very nice post Maggie. You are a history buff? I love it.

Happy fourth to you and your family!

Amen and amen.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Great stuff Maggie!

And a Happy Fourth of July to you and yours!

May the day's celibration be both joyous and safe!

heartofdarkness said...

Maggie, great post. Happy 4th of July!

BrianInVero said...

Happy Independance Day!!

In England, they recognize July 4th and their Thanksgiving Day, where they were "thankful" to get the "freaks" out of their country.

(I had to assure my wife that American won that war ;))

On the 4th, as I celebrate with my Marine brother, we will be boating to Cape Canaveral to watch the shuttle launch from the intracoastal.

As the rockets red glare into the night, I will be hugging my bro, not only because he is my brother, not only because he is a Marine, he is my hero.

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