Washington's Reception by the Ladies, Nathaniel Currier
For the first 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Indpendence on the 4th of July, American women would present their appreciation of the nation's hard-won liberty as handiwork in the form of banners, flags, or standards to groups of soldiers of the United States military. The presentation ceremony would allow the women to speak about what the new nation & its defenders meant to them, even though they would not be allowed to vote until 1920.
Their speeches usually were not specifically about the signing of the document or about the founding fathers, the more immediate goal was to praise & inspire the local defenders of freedom who were alive and present at the moment.
John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Members of the City Troup and other Philadelphia Soldiery
1805 Eunice Quinby of Kennebunk, Maine
Standand presented to the Stoudwater Light-Infantry Company, Kennebunk, Maine, July 4, 1805. After a parade by the Stoudwater Light-Infantry Company, they were joined by the Falmouth Cavalry, Capt. William Brackett, and all marched to Capt. John Quinby’s “where were assembled the ladies of the village and its vicinity, who displayed their patriotism by presenting the Light-Infantry with an elegant standard," accompanied by the following address by Miss Eunice Quinby: The martial ardor which actuates the Stroudwater Light Infantry, affords a pleasing satisfaction, while the celerity, with which, from a state of ignorance, it has obtained an extensive knowledge of military discipline, is matter of surprise to every beholder. You have begun the career of glory; and we trust that that honor which is the Soldiers sole reward, will amply compensate you, in whose breasts are implanted the love of liberty, of virtue and of your country, for all the toil, anxiety, and danger, to which you are liable. Ours is the land of Liberty, and of happiness; we peculiarly enjoy the blessings of peace and prosperity; but these advantages are to be preserved only by the smiles of an over ruling Providence, and the virtue and watchfulness of our citizens. On those of the military capacity we depend for protection from foreign invasion and domestic usurpation; to effect which, unremitted vigilance, patience of discipline and scorn of danger, are absolutely necessary. Being sensible that you are deeply impressed with the truth of this observation, I have the honor, in the name of the Ladies of Falmouth, to offer this standard to your protection; let it ever by the signal of Liberty; May that which is now intrusted to your heroism and magnanimity, never be deserted; may the motto which is inscribed thereon, be indelibly imprinted on all your hearts; and may that spark of ambition, which at first warmed your breasts, and which is now kindled into a flame, never, never, by extinguished. “Party at Maj. Webster’s,” Kennebunk Gazette, 17 July 1805.
Fireboard of Early 19C Salem, Massachusetts
1807 Miss Archer of Salem, Massachusetts
On July 4, 1807, in Salem, Massachusetts, "The Mechanic Light Infantry, a new Company commanded by Capt. Perley Putnam, made their first appearance in uniform on this day, and received an elegant Standard in the morning from Col. Archer, which was delivered by the Colonel's daughter, of eleven years of age, with the following pertinent Address: To the Mechanic Light Infantry" Gentlemen, I am directed by my father, who has the honour of commanding the Salem regiment, to request the Mechanic Light Infantry Company to accept this Standard, with his most sincere wishes, for their prosperity and honour. It will be easily conceive[d], with what pleasure I obey the command, when the respectable and martial appearance of the corps is a satisfactory pledge that it will not dishonour the gift. My parent views with pleasure the ardour and emulation which inspire the citizen soldiers who compose this regiment, and feels the greatest confidence they will never forfeit that proud title by the violation of the laws of honour, of humanity, of their country, and their God. The elegant and valuable corps which is now united to this regiment, affords a lively satisfaction and well grounded hope, that the spirit, harmony, discipline, and love of order, by which it has hitherto distinquished itself, will still continue to assign it a high rank in the militia of this Commonwealth. The Mechanic Light Infantry may rest assured, that the alacrity, with which they have organized and equipped themselves, and the perseverance by which they have attained to the honourable state of proficiency which we now view, has not passed unnoticed by the commander of the regiment, nor by their fellow citizens in general. It is a maxim of our father Washington (heaven be praised that his memory, is still dear to us!) that to preserve peace, we must be prepared for war. Peace is our aim, and preparation is our security. This glorious anniversary can testify, that a nation of freemen, possessing the hearts, can never want the means, of defending their country. The American Eagle shall never wing his way to spoil the peace of other nations; but, hovering over our heads, he will animate us to victory, in defence of our wives, our children, and our firesides. Gentlemen of the Mechanic Light Infantry Company! I need not remind you of the protection which my sex, and tender years like mine, claim from the soldier. Accept this Standard, with our entire confidence in your worthyness, your patriotism, your valour and conduct; and in the name of Washington, and our common country, accept our warmest wishes for your happiness and glory. Salem Register, 9 July 1807.
1839 The Cleveland Ohio Grays in the Public Square by Joseph Parker
1814 Francis Warren Fraser, of New York
In New York, to New York Independent Veteran Corps of Artillery, under command of Capt. Chapman. "At the quarters of their Captain,” Mrs. Fraser gave the following address: Gentlemen, I congratulate you on the 38th Anniversary of American Independence—a blessing which cost you the privation, toils, and perils of a seven years arduous contest. With heartfelt pleasure do I view the warworn Veteran, claiming no exemption for age or infirmity, again draw his sword in his country’s cause. As a feeble testimony of my respect, permit me to present your honourable corps a Standard, consisting of Thirteen Stripes, the number of our Revolutionary States; Blue, predominating, is emblematic of the fidelity of our immortal Washington, and his brave comrades of the revolution; Red, indicative of that precious blood shed in obtaining our Independence; and White, studded with golden flowers, representing the blessing which accompany an honourable peace; the Pointed Cannon, in a field of white, surmounted with your appropriate motto (Pro Deo Et Patria) will forcibly remind you of the purposes and obligations of your association. Veterans! Accept this Standard! May you always display it in your country’s cause and furl it with honour! National Advocate, 7 July 1814.
1815 Mrs. Ingalls of Bridgton, Maine
In Bridgton, Maine, “a numerous and respectable collection of the Ladies of Bridgeton assembled and presented to the Bridgeton Light Infantry, a most elegant stand of new colors accompanied by the following address by Mrs. Ingalls, who was deputed by the Ladies for that purpose” Sir--The Ladies of Bridgeton, have deputed me to present to you on their behalf these colors in token of their high regard for the institutions of the militia in general, and for the Bridgeton Light Infantry, in particular. National liberty and independence are the design and end of the militia establishment of our highly favored republic. War is a casual duty, but should not be suffered to become a distinct profession in a free state. the protection of your wives, your children, your mothers and sisters, and the sacrifice of life in the defence of the rights & independence of your beloved country are duties (we doubt not) considered by the members of the Bridgeton Light Infantry company much too sacred to be intrusted to mercenary hands. Under these banners, the consecrated emblems of our national liberty and independence, we have the highest confidence that the Bridgton Light Infantry will ever in the hour of danger be found doing their duty. Permit me gr [sic], through you, to tender to each individual of your associates as well as yourself, the salutations of the high respect and consideration of the Ladies of Bridgeton.
“American Independence. Bridgeton Celebration,” Eastern Argus, 19 July 1815.
1815 Nancy Prescott, of New Sharon, Maine
On Tuesday, 4th inst. the republicans of New Sharon and a large number from the neighboring towns, met to celebrate the anniversary of independence. About 70 ladies dressed in white uniform, presented a beautiful set of colors to the Light Infantry company commanded by Capt. Baker; the Company, ladies and a large assemblage of spectators forming a hollow square, the following address on presenting the colors was made by Miss Nancy Prescott.
"Accept, Sir, this Standard from the Ladies of New Sharon as an indication of their high respect for the New Sharon Light Infantry. Feeling at the same time the strongest assurance that this Emblem of National Honor will never be tarnished in the hands of Gentlemen who have shown such an uniform attachment to virtue and sound principles; and what is of equal consequence, to the constituted authorities of their country. I therefore congratulate you upon the peace you now possess; may you ever be mindful of the privileges you enjoy. Should an offensive war be waged against your peace and tranquility, and you called to render a more active service to your country, may the God of Israel direct you; may he lead you valiantly to the fight, illuminate your path, conduct you through all difficulties which may be found in your way, until you shall have fully and honorably redressed your country's wrongs." "Celebration at New Sharon," American Advocate and Kennebec Advertiser, 15 July 1815.
James Goodwyn Clonney (American genre artist, 1812–1867) Militia Training 1841
1819 Jane Wade of Belleville, New Jersey
On July 5, 1819, a Fourth of July celebration in Belleville, New Jersey, citizens assembled in front of Capt. Ezekiel Wade's establishment. A group of young ladies were there dressed in white, to present a flag to Capt. Dow's Company of Belleville Washington Volunteers. Miss Jane Wade, escorted by two other ladies, unfurled the banner and presented it to Capt. Dow. Wade spoke on the occasion: Sir--In behalf of the young ladies of Belleville, I have the honor to present to you for the use of your Company of Belleville Washington Volunteers, a Standard of Colours. These you will please to accept as an expression of their high satisfaction in noticing the expeditious manner in which this corps have been organized, and the martial appearance which they exhibit; and they cannot but indulge the hope that in the defence and support of this Standard, the Belleville Washington Volunteers will be influenced by the same spirit of magnanimity and heroism which so highly distinguished the illustrious Chief, whose name they have assumed. "Anniversary Celebration," Centinel of Freedom,20 July 1819.
1821 Jane E. Holmes of New York
An elegant Standard, painted by that celebrated artist, Childs, of New York, was, on 4th of July, presented by Miss Jane E. Holmes, to the Federalist Artillery Company of this city. The execution of the flag, was equal to the beauty and symmetry of the design; both contributing to display, in the most striking and forceable manner, the objects for which it was intended. Miss Holmes, on presenting the Standard, delivered a very tasteful and appropriate address to the company, which was responded to by Lieut. Foster Burnet, the officer who received the colours, in terms of feeling and patriotism, peculiarly adapted to the occasion. The following is the address and response: Gentlemen of the Federalist artillery, I present you with this banner--I am sure it will never be disgraced in your hands. Should the fate of war wrest it from you, it will not be until your cannon will have ceased to roar, and your lifeless forms have slept on the bosom of your parent earth. The Star-Spangled Flag of America, has been the pillow in death, of Pike and Lawrence; but such untoward events of battle, will, I trust and hope, never be able to sever from your hands, the Standard which I have now the honor of presenting you. City Gazette and Daily Advertiser [Charleston, SC], 6 July 1821.
1821 Eletia Hubball of Alexandria, Virginia
On July 4, 1821, in Alexandria, Virginia, Eletia Hubball, "a young lady who had been elected by her associates to present the standard, made her appearance, accompanied by six of her female friends, and bearing the most beautiful flag we have seen for many days." The women presented the flag to the Company of Light Infantry, commanded by Capt. Nicholas Blasdell, at a "place appointed for the ceremony," probably near the market square. Miss Hubball "was received with 'presented arms,' and an enlivening air from the band." She then responded with the following: Citizen Soldiers, You have associated in celebrating the birth day of your independence. In compliance with a request of my female associates, I am about to present you a standard in manifestation of our confidence, & as a tribute of respect to the company of Independent Volunteers. Though the order of society, our daily habits and physical powers, restrict us to less active duties and forbid us a participation in your social, and convivial pleasures, and manly exercises of the day; yet we feel with you a glow of satisfaction. To us as to you, it recalls to our mental view events which inspire us with veneration for the memories of our Fathers of the Revolution, & excite in us, a lively interest for the honor of our common country. May this day be ever dear to the descendants of free men: Our fathers dared to will to be free, and were free: may their sons ever will it. Our motives in addressing you on this occasion are not to excite in you a sense of noble daring, or a just appreciation of your rights as freemen. The songs of freemen want no incentives to action: Liberty and honor are inate principles, fostered by paternal care. They have nobly will'd and bravely dared. The historic page records the noble achievements, and gallant actions in their country's cause; on the ocean and on the land their prowess stands pre-eminent; the haughty foe has struck his proud flag to our brave and hardy tars, and bent his proud crest to the strong arm of your brothers in arms. From pole to pole, the goddess of liberty has proclaimed the merited applause of her sons.The sons of freedom assuming the manly and dignified attitude of Citizen Soldiers, and emulating each other in the acquirements of military discipline, to enable them in the hour of danger to defend their country, maintain their liberty and protect us from licentious and daring invaders, must ever possess in our hearts an influence superior to the ordinary impressions created by social intercourse. Receive then your flag, and defend it worthy of yourselves and fathers, and we fervently trust that in your pursuit of discipline and military glory, it will never by tarnished with vice or immorality prove to the world that morality and virtue are the concomitants of the Citizen Soldier. Should the tocsin of war be again sounded, and our happy country be invaded by the enemies of liberty, while you bravely march to chide them for their presumption we will offer up to the god of battles our prayers for your protection, relying, that you will ever hold in dear remembrance, your motto, "Columbia, Fortitude and Freedom." Alexandria Gazette, 7 July 1821.
Thompkins H Matteson (American painter, 1813-1884) Spirit That Won The War - Making Ammunition 1855. In the lower right, children melt kitchenware to make bullets. Behind them, a veteran of an earlier war looks on while another man reads news of the Declaration of Independence. To the left, a woman greets 2 armed men at the door, while another group prepares food & weapons. At the center of the painting, 3 women flank a young man: one woman provides instruction, another secures his knapsack, & another offers him a satchel. He looks into the eyes of the woman to his right, possibly a tender moment between mother & son.
1821 Miss Sheppard of Baltimore, Maryland
The forty-fifth anniversary of our national jubilee was celebrated by this corps Fell's Point Columbian Blues of Baltimore, Maryland, in a manner peculiarly grateful and flattering to its members. Early in the morning, they were presented with an elegant standard by the elder daughers of Col. Thos. Sheppard, who "with great complaissance and at the sacrifice of much time had worked the flag--the embroidery displays a correctness of design, and neatness of execution, highly honorable to the ladies." The volunteers having paraded at the quarters of the captain, were marched with an excellent band of music to the dwelling of Col. Sheppard, where were assembled Brig. Gen M'Donald, and his aids Messrs. Davis and Van Wyck, with several officers and soldiers of our revolutionary stuggle. Miss Sheppard in offering the flag, addressed Capt. Brays in nearly the following words: Sir--We feel much pleasure in presenting this ensign to a corps so ancient and respectable as the Fell's Point Columbian Blues. In the discharge of this task, we will not betray a doubt of the patriotism and valour of the company under your command, by recommending the standard to their martial care. The volunteers of this land are the natural guardians of their natal soil. Standing armies are regarded with a jealous eye by the genius of our republic, and in their absence the country must rely for protection and support upon her free-born citizen soldiers. A well organized body of this description, honest in its views, undaunted in its conduct, and actuated by the sacred fire of liberty, will forever oppose an impregnable barrier to the invading foe.
Allow us to express a hope, that the God of Battles may protect you in the hour of danger; that the recollections of your wives and chldren may nerve your arms in the day of trail; and that returning with your laurels to the sympathies of home, you may evince to the world, that like Cincinnatus of old, or the departed Father of our American union, you can blend the intrepidity of heroes with the civic virtues of private men. Baltimore Patriot, 7 July 1821.
1822 Sylvia Borden of Fall River Massachusetts
At Fall River, Mass. On July 4, 1822, Miss Sylvia Borden presented an “elegant standard” purchased by the “ladies of the village” to Ensign Thomas D. Chaloner, on behalf of the Fall River Light Infantry. The event took place on the grounds in front of Col. Durfee’s Hotel. Gentlemen of the Fall River Infantry, On the day an altar was erected to liberty in this Western Hemisphere; and the blessings of Heaven hallowed the offering. May the same principles, which, in your fathers, produced our Independence, long exist in you, to defend it.” “Ensign Chaloner, The ladies of this village have the honor to present, through you, this Standard to the Fall-River Light Infantry. Accept it, sir, as a pledge of their esteem, both for your virtues and your valor—Happy, if they can furnish one motive to the brave, or contribute one ray to the glow of patriotic ardor which this day enkindles. Should our country again be invaded, and you called upon to unfurl this banner in defence of its liberties, we are confident you will preserve it untarnished and pure. You will yield to none but the hand of time, to whose alone, it can be gracefully surrendered. The temples of your God, the tombs of your fathers, and the firesides of your families, your virtues as citizens, and your courage as soldiers, will gallantly defend. But may the courage on which we so confidently rely, glow only in your bosoms—may the sound of war and the clash of arms never call it into action; and the peace and liberty of our country, like the smooth surface of the ocean, appear still more sublime, when we know her greatness in the tempest. Rhode-Island Republican, 17 July 1822.
1826 Mary Felt of New Ipswich, New Hampshire
At New Ipswich, New Hampshire, July 4, 1826, "a large and brilliant procession of ladies, who had procured a very superb standard" which was presented to the company of Grenadiers by Miss Mary Felt on the grounds of the meeting house, accompanied with the following address, In a world where it is our lot to be surrounded with dangers, and perpetually exposed to the rude attacks of the lawless and abandoned of our own species, to guard ourselves against the possible evils that may assail us, is the plain dictate of reason and prudence. To us, who are by nature weak and defenceless, belong not the daring spirit, the manly courage, and the heroic valor, to which we must be forever indebted, for the security of those inestimable rights and privileges, which, under a free government, we so abundantly enjoy. These distinguishing qualities are the peculiar attributes of those, to whom alone we can look for support and protection. But if we are dependent upon others for these invaluable blessings, we would not be unmindful of our own duty. Although, Sir, the labor, the difficulty and the danger devolve upon your sex; it is for us in the peaceful retirement of domestic life to practise those virtues and cherish those principles, which will dignify and adorn our own characters, and at the same time have a salutary and permanent influence upon the life and conduct of the guardians and protectors of our dearest rights. Desirous of offering a small tribute of gratitude, for the mentorious exertions you have made to prepare yourselves for the arduous duties of citizens and soldiers, the Ladies of New-Ipswich have procured this Standard, and in their behalf I would present it, earnestly requesting that you would accept it, with their warmest wishes for your success. Should it, in the happy times of peace, have a tendency to stimulat you to acquire a more correct and perfect discipline, and, in times of peril, should it animate you to more vigorous exertion in defence of your country, our highest anticipations will be realized. Should the gloomy shade of war, ever again in portentous darkness, hang over our peaceful horizon, may this Standard, on which are displayed the arms of our country, forever be an incentive to noble deeds and generous achievements. "Fourth of July," Farmers' Cabinet, 22 July 1826.
1827 Jane Hobbs of Pelham, New Hampshire
Jane Hobbs and a group of ladies presented a flag to the assembled Rifle Company of Pelham, New Hampshire, commanded by Capt. Enoch Marsh, on July 4, 1827. Miss Hobbs addressed the members of the Rifle Company: Permit me, gentlemen officers of the Rifle company, in behalf of a number of respectable ladies of this place, to address you, and the brave soldiers under your command. More than half a century has passed away since this memorable fourth of July became an epoch in the history of these United States. Ill would it become me on any other occasion than the present, to call your attention by an allusion of mine, to the inestimable privileges we enjoy, which cost nothing less than the blood of the hero and the patriot. Our nation is the wonder and astonishment of the civilized world; it is the freest, the happiest and most prosperous nation under the sun; its civil and religious institutions are based on the broad principles of the rights of men. None is molested or made affraid [sic], but all may rest under his own vine; everything of a temporal nature is ours; even the tiger is led as it were to flowery bands by a child. This Canaan of happiness was won by our fathers. Yes, the patriotic and gallant sons of Columbia, led on by the beloved Washington, made the purchase, endured privations, hardships, toils and fatigues, unknown to us, and for little or no reward but the gratitude of a grateful country. Most of them have passed away as the current of time passes, and have mingled their dust with its kindred dust; and we indulge the fond hope that their immortal spirits have ascended on high and entered that kingdom where their peace and joy shall be lasting as an eternity. When our political fathers fearlessly sounded the trumpet of freedom, every patriotic heart thrilled with hope and fear. The day was momentous. The threatening vengance [sic] of a tyrannic foe, like some dark terriffic [sic] cloud obscured its bright effulgence which hope painted in vivid colours. The storm of war lowers--it passes away, the scene ended and we realize every thing anticipated. These United States are looked upon as a pattern of political consistency by the civilized world; nor is their philanthropy and patriotism less regarded, nor should it be, since their brave sons so courageously presented their breasts to the shafts of battle in defence of their rights; and sprinkled the alter of their independence with their blood. And since patriots and heroes bled for this rich inheritance of ours, hold it sacred and inviolate; and as a pledge you will do so, be pleased to receive this standard from this association of ladies in this town, impressed with a simile of the freedom of our country. Be assured that we entertan the high opinion of a true patriot and soldier, which they justly merit, and shall at all times cheerfully lend our aid in any thing that may add to their happiness, or mitigate their sorrows and toils. This standard, a symbol of our dear bought rights, suffer not to be dishonoured or invaded by any. Tarnish not the achieved glory of an American soldier. and we sincerely hope that the time will soon come when the standard of the cross will supersede a standard like this, and render it useless. When the habiliments of war and the instruments of death shall be no more used in this our fallen world. When our brothers shall learn war no more. When no more garments shall be rolled in blood. When the nations shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and nation shall not lift up sword against nation. This will be the happy case when all nations shall gather around the standard of the cross, and the gospel shall have its effect upon the hearts of men; for wars and fightings come from the depravity of man. Trust not in sword and spear, nor in a coat of mail, but in Him who holds the destinies of the nations in his hands, and then should the enemy come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against them. "Communication. Fourth of July, at Pelham," Farmers' Cabinet, 21 July 1827.
1830 Anstiss W. Bradford of New Boston, New Hampshire
A flag presentation at New Boston, New Hampshire, on July 4, 1830, included "about 90 young ladies under the direction of Pearly Dodge and Waterman Burr." At the town square, "a new and elegant Standard (a present from the ladies of New-Boston to the Company of Artillery)" was presented in a ceremony. Miss Anstiss W. Bradford "in behalf of the company of ladies made the following address, Sir,--While the sons of our great and happy Republic are reminded by the return of another, anniversary of her Independence, of the unequalled blessings which Divine Priovidence has bestowed on their country, her daughters are not insensible to those distinguished favors. Nor are they ignorant of the great importance of an intelligent, virtuous and patriotic Militia, as a mean of preserving the privileges instrumentally obtained by the wisdom of our progenitors in council, and their valor in the field of battle. Actuated by these sentiments, the Ladies in New-Boston, wish on this occasion, to give a substantial token of their attachment to the interests of their country. They have accordingly directed me to request you, Sir, as the representative of the Company of Matross, here assembled, to accept this Standard. Permit me to express their confident expectation, that should the threatened liberties of our Republic call you to their defence, you will promptly rally around this banner, and display that courage, magnanimity and perseverance that will do honor to your flag. (Farmers' Cabinet, 10 July 1830, 3; "American Independence," New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette, 19 July 1830.)
1832 Cecilia F. Poor of Methuen, Massachusetts
Another flag presentation occurred in Methuen, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1832, when a group of females presented a standard to the Methuen Light Infantry. Miss Cecilia F. Poor was chosen among the 65 women present to give the address to the soldiers assembled for the celebration: Citizen soldiers: We are assembled together on this day to commemorate the birth of our national independence--a day of jubilee--to celebrate with joy the emanicipation of our country from the yoke of bondage and oppression. Dear to the recollection of every son and daughter of America, is that period when the master spirits of our revolution proclaimed to the nations of the earth, that we "were and of right ought to be free and independent.
We hail with pleasure the return of this our natal day sacred to the birth of American liberty; we raise our eyes to heaven with gratitude that we are this day permitted to enjoy the high privileges for which our fathers fought and bled. And it is to you, citizen soldiers, sons of sires so noble--that our hopes are now directed to protect those rights, and that liberty purchased at a price so dear.
Reposing implicit confidence in your patriotism and integrity, permit me in behalf of the ladies of Methuen to present to you this standard--may its folds never be unfurled but in the glorious cause of liberty and freedom. Should hostile foes invade our shores, should the clarion of war echo over these now peaceful hills, may the recollection of this event inspire your hearts with patriotism, and nerve your arm to protect your homes and your fire sides. Around this banner, should your country call you to the field, make you rally, and when once the glittering steel has left its scabbard, drawn in defence of trampled rights, let it never return again to rest till success shall crown your arms with victory and the olive branch of peace return again to our peaceful vallies.
Essex Gazette, 14 July 1832.
1839 Mrs. Elijah Boyden of Marlborough, New Hampshire
The ladies of Marlborough having procured a military standard for the Marlborough Cadet Company, deemed the 4th instant  an appropriate day for the presentment. For this purpose the company paraded on that day, under the command of Capt. N. Converse, and proceeded to the grounds of the house of Charles Holman, Jr., where the ladies were assembled. At 11 o'clock, A.M. the standard was presented to the company by Mrs. Elijah Boyden, with the following address: Cadets,-- The ladies of Marlborough have procured this standard, which they have directed me to present to your company. One motive we have in making you a present of this military ensign, is to testify our respect for the company, and our approbation of the gentlemanly and soldierlike conduct of the members since its organization. But we are prompted to this act by another, a higher, and as we think, a nobler motive. As women, we appreciate the high privileges we enjoy in this happy, this blessed country. When we contrast our own condition with that of our sex in some other parts of the world at the present day; when we reflect that by the institutions and laws of this country, our rights and privileges are duly protected, and that woman rises to her proper elevation in society, --we cannot but feel gratitude to God, and the soldiers of freedom, for the high privileges conferred upon us. Upon you, Cadets, devolves the duty, in part, of defending the country from foreign aggession, and its institutions and laws from the perils of domestic insurrection. Accept this standard, and let it at all times incite you to the conduct of good citizens and good soldiers. "Proceedings at Marlborough on the Fourth," New Hampshire Sentinel, 17 July 1839.
1853 Catharine Sinclair of California
Another flag presentation by a woman occurred in California on July 4, 1853, when Mrs. Catharine Sinclair presented a banner, accompanied by a speech, to the First California Battalion. Mrs. Sinclair said to the militia assembled in the outdoor heat: I tender you this flag. It tolls of the energy and sublime courage of the men who established your independence. . . .Take it from the hands of a woman. Be true to it and to the principles it represents, and all women will bless you. Take it, not only of the flag of California, but as the flag of the Union --as the flag of Mankind! Daily Alta California, 6 July 1853.
For much, much more on July 4th celebrations, see
The Fourth of July Encyclopedia by James R. Heintze (2007)
Music of the Fourth of July: A Year-by-year Chronicle of Performances and Works Composed for the Occasion, by James R. Heintze (2009)