Monday, July 4, 2016

1950s 4th of July in Alaska


1950s 4th of July in Alaska which became a state in 1959


1939 & 1940 4th of July Celebrations in South Carolina


1939 Fourth of July celebration, St. Helena Island, South Carolina by Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990) 


1939 Fourth of July celebration, St. Helena Island, South Carolina by Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990) 



1940 Picnic Photo by Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990)


1904 Arkansas 4th of July Picnic


1904 Fourth of July Picnic, Rogers, Arkansas


1876 The Day We Celebrate - July 4th - Independence Day


Frederick Augustus Chapman, (German-born American artist, 1818-1891) The Day We Celebrate 1876

"The Day We Celebrate" 1876 painted by F.A. Chapman ; engraved by John C. McRae, N.Y. This engraving shows a large gathering of people picnicking, playing games, & enjoying the Independence Day celebration outdoors among large trees & open lawn, with a distant view of a railroad train passing & of ships on a waterway in the background.


4th of July Historic American Seed and Plant Catalogs from Smithsonian Institution Libraries




4th of July Historic American Seed and Plant Catalogs from Smithsonian Institution Libraries




1868 Winslow Homer 4th of July


1868 Winslow Homer wood engraving featured in Harper's Weekly titled, Fire-Works On the Night of the Fourth of July.


A small mid-western town celebrates the 4th of July in the 19C


Community Pride was important in this mid-western town. The Evansville, Wisconsin newspaper would publish the grand prize winner of the Tallest Corn Stalk Contest - here, an unidentified couple stands proudly with their seven-foot tall stalks.

I have not seen another account of a century's year-by-year compilation of a small mid-western American town celebrating the 4th of July in public spaces across the 1800s.  This rather amazing journey was written about 1800s Evansville, Wisconsin by Ruth Ann Montgomery, Evansville, Wisconsin historian  at RMontgomery@litewire.net  Also see The Library at the University of Wisconsin here.

Evansville, Wisconsin. 104 West Main  High Victorian Gothic The home of Dr. John M. Evans (1819-1903), the city’s first physician, first postmaster, first mayor, and namesake of Evansville

Evansville, Wisconsin, was settled in 1839,  by New Englanders who were attracted to the area by its pristine wooded landscape & the placid Allen Creek. 


Evansville, Wisconsin. 

By 1855, the city recorded its first plat and was building homes, shops, and churches.  In 1863, the Chicago and North Western Railway came to Evansville, accelerating growth. At this point, Evansville's economy was based on industry and manufacturing of carriages, wagons, pumps, windmills and iron castings. The economy was also based on agriculture: dairying; farming (production of wheat and tobacco; and stock raising.)  


Evansville, Wisconsin. Seminary

In 1856, the Wisconsin Methodist Episcopal Conference reported that the Evansville Seminary was one of their new interests. The report stated that by the winter of 1856, the building was partially completed. 


Evansville, Wisconsin. 103 West Main  – circa 1858 – Greek Revival

The Evansville Seminary, a high school & later a junior college, first operated by the Methodist Church and later by the Free Methodist Church, was a training institution for 100s of students. 


Evansville, Wisconsin.  Downtown

By the turn of the twentieth century Evansville had over 1900 residents.


Evansville, Wisconsin. 128 West Main – 1863 – Italianate

The town has been celebrating the 4th of July since at least 1844, when a young Byron Campbell moved to Evansville with his family.   The first 4th of July that Campbell could remember was a Sunday School picnic in a grove of trees on South Madison Street.  At an early 4th of July celebration, Campbell & others remembered a small parade.  Children from a school in Green County & their teacher participated.  In preparation for the event, the children purchased fabric & sewed their own flag.   On the morning of the 4th, the father of one of the girls hitched a team of large oxen to a lumber wagon with a hay rack.   The wagon was decorated with green boughs.  The children & their teacher waited for the wagon at the school house.  The girls wore white dresses with red sashes & a blue bonnet.  With the wagon loaded & their homemade flag flying in the breeze, the group headed for Evansville’s parade.


Evansville, Wisconsin. 128 West Main – 1863 – Italianate

Evansville’s 4th of July celebration usually started with a gun salute at dawn.  Later in the morning there was a parade to a picnic area where a stand & seating was built for the comfort of the crowd.   For many years, the celebration was held in the grove of trees north of the home of Dr. John M. Evans, Evansville’s namesake.  His home faced West Main Street & extended to the mill pond.  

Evansville, Wisconsin. 114 West Main and 120 West Main – 1893 – Picturesque

In 1870, the Evansville Review newspaper described the location as “a most delightful spot.  A stand had been erected & seats provided, but not half sufficient for the crowd assembled.  Friendly trees afforded good leaning posts besides cooling shades to compensate for the lack of seats.”  


Evansville, Wisconsin. 117 West Main – 1896 – Queen Anne

Another popular location for the 4th of July activities was Leonard’s Grove, the land behind Levi Leonard’s house at the northeast corner of West Main & Second Street.  In the 1880s, the northern most portion of the land was sold to the Village of Evansville for the first park. 


Evansville, Wisconsin. 44 West Main – 1881 – High Victorian Italianate

Evansville’s 4th of July parade began at 10 a.m. & often included a company of “ragmuffins” dressed as animals & birds.  The Evansville Cornet band, provided music.  The parade also included carriages carrying local dignitaries, parade marshals, men on foot & on horseback.  Following the parade was the reading of the Declaration of Independence, a three gun salute, a prayer, music, patriotic resolutions & speeches by local ministers, village trustees, & professors from the Evansville Seminary.   After the speeches, there was a picnic & each family or group provided their own food.   During the noon meal the band played & sometimes a community choir provided music.  When the picnic was done, there were games of croquet, rope swings for swinging & boat rides on the mill pond. 


Evansville, Wisconsin.  Downtown

Tub races were a popular afternoon event.   The 1870 tub races were described in the Evansville Review“The tub race, which was set down at two o’clock, came off in fine style, witnessed by the whole audience, who lined the banks of the pond & crowded upon the dam to witness the sport.  The race was entered by Messrs. Gray, Hamilton & Newton, for a purse of ten dollars, & won in fine style by Mr. Gray.  The performances were exhilarating in the highest degree & carried out in fine style both by the winner & the defeated.” 


Evansville, Wisconsin. 111 West Main – American Foursquare

When the events at the picnic site & the activities at the mill pond were completed, another parade was formed to march the units back to the corner of Main & Madison Streets where the parade originated.  In the evening, there was a public dance with dinner served at the hotel at the corner of Main & Madison, followed by fireworks.    The Evansville Review described the conclusion of the 4th of July celebration in 1876, the Centennial of the Declaration of Independence:  “Noisy boys & detonating fire crackers, loungers, & snarling curs, with a drenching midnight rain closed up our Centennial Fourth.”


Evansville, Wisconsin. 137 West Main – 1886 – Home built for George Pullen (1860-1938).

Early in the spring of 1878, the Evansville Review began calling for a planning committee for the 4th of July.   “Evansville has not had a real national celebration for some years,” the Evansville Review editor complained.  “Now let this our second centennial year, 1878, be characterized with the burning fire of patriotism that will take the wings right off the old eagle & make her scream with rapturous delight.”  The call for a 4th of July celebration in 1878 was met with a good response from the community.  Several committees were formed to find speakers, organize the parade & provide other entertainment.  The Evansville Cornet Band agreed to furnish the music.  Vendors were on the grounds with food for those who did not bring a picnic.  Tub races were replaced with baseball games & glass ball shooting.  At 8 o’clock in the evening there was balloon ascension & the Evansville Fire Department demonstrated their equipment.  The owner of the Spencer House hotel held a dance & dinner.   The day was declared a success.  “In all, the crowd was the largest & the most orderly we have ever seen in Evansville on an occasion of this kind,” the Evansville Review noted in reporting the event.


Evansville, Wisconsin. Lenonard-Leota Park & Lake Leota

There was enthusiasm for continuing the annual celebrations.  It was good for local businesses & was widely supported.   In 1882, the finance & soliciting committee had no trouble raising $200 to pay for the festivities.   The hardware firm of Snashall & Mygatt & another local businessman, Charles H. Hollister were in charge of getting a cannon, powder & cartridges that could be fired during the celebration.  The committee reported that “a thing of that kind could be had in payment of cost of transportation.”  Five years later, the enthusiasm had worn down & there was no celebration in 1887, except the tolling of the church bells at midnight, as the day began.   Many sleepy townsfolk mistook the bells for fire bells, but when fully awake realized that it was the 4th of July.  With no events planned for Evansville, the local newspapers reported that a good sized crowd, 200 people, went to Janesville to enjoy the festivities.


Evansville, Wisconsin. 138 West Main – circa 1865 – Greek Revival  This home was built by pioneer settler Levi Leonard (1815-1908) who came to “The Grove” in 1840.

Evansville business & civic leaders regained their community spirit & held a celebration in 1888.  Local residents decorated their homes & yards.  The residence of C. B. Morse was declared by the Evansville Tribune, “the most beautifully ornamented for the 4th.”  However, the celebration was marred by one of the few fireworks accidents reported in the 1800s in Evansville.   A special platform had been built to shoot off the fireworks.  No one noticed that Ray Clifford, the little son of Mr. Charles Clifford, was hiding under the stand.  Ray was seriously burned by the debris from the fireworks.  There were also complaints about the cannon that the 4th of July committee had rented for the celebration.   The big gun was fired from the Church Street bridge.   Allen S. Baker reported to the weekly newspaper, the Tribune, that 36 windows were broken out of the Baker Manufacturing Co’s., machine shop & foundry.  There was no report of whether the 4th of July committee paid Baker’s for the damage.  However the Tribune said in the July 7, 1888 issue, “The cannon was an expensive luxury to our Fourth, without any pleasure or comfort to the day.  It seemed to detract from it.”


Evansville, Wisconsin. 1899

The following year, in 1889, there was no Fourth of July celebration in Evansville.   The Evansville Review reporter lamented that fifty years ago, (1839) the first settler had arrived.  “Their children & grandchildren are with us today, & it would have been a fitting tribute to their memory & patriotism could we have commemorated the event with a formal gathering.”  The Evansville Review suggested an Old Folk’s Picnic, but there was no one enthusiastic enough to volunteer to organize it.  Evansville residents had to go elsewhere to find the usual activities.  "Before you go, don’t forget to hang out the bunting & to give every boy you see a nickel to buy the fire crackers & the pop guns—young America’s emblems of patriotism,” the reporter advised.   Citizens apparently followed his advice as the next issue of the newspaper reported “Young kids kept up an incessant fusillade of firecrackers.”  In the evening some private parties set off some rockets & Roman candles for fireworks.


Evansville, Wisconsin. Elephant crossing Main Street  1898

There was a small celebration in 1890.  The main gathering took place in the park at the end of Second Street.  The Rev. E. L. Eaton delivered a lecture that lasted 1 hour & 15 minutes.   The first 45 minutes was devoted to the history of the United States & the remaining half-hour to an anti-liquor & anti-tobacco speech.   Women sold homemade ice cream to earn funds to cover the expenses of the day.  Celebrations during the 1890s were more elaborate with a planning committee starting early to plan for National Independence Day.   Local business & professional men established a finance committee to solicit donations & other named other committees to plan music & set up the stage & seating at the park.   According to reports after the event, the fireworks for the 1891, “were grand.  There were many new pieces never before seen here.”   The Episcopalians sold dinners & lemonade at the celebration & earned $26 to repair the bell on their church steeple.  In June 1894, there were plans for a street parade, floats that represented the 13 original colonies, & industrial exhibit on a float drawn by a steam locomotive, bicycle riders, a re-creation of Coxey’s army.   The marshals for the 1894 celebration represented not only Evansville, but many of the townships & villages in the surrounding area. 


Cooksvillestore, just outside of Evansville, established 2 years before Wisconsin became a state

The 1898 festivities were especially patriotic as the nation was at war for the first time since the 1860s.  Evansville’s young men were being asked to serve in the United States Army for the Spanish American War.  There was a rousing send off for the young men.   The event was described in the local newspaper:  “When the band gave the notice, with some of their most patriotic music, that the boys were about to start.  A large crowd gathered upon the public square to bid them God-Speed & a safe return, but it was hard for mothers, relatives & friends to restrain their feelings & tears flowed freely, as all realized that not all of these boys would ever see their homes & friends again.”  Sixteen young men reported for duty on the same day all joined the Army & went in a group to the depot for induction.  


1834 New York City 4th of July Celebration


1834 Looking south on Broadway from the corner of Cortlandt Street, 1834. Harper’s Weekly


Celebrations of the Fourth of July in New York City included street vendors selling all sorts of food & spirits. Branded a "highly improper" social evil, the Fourth of July booths were accused of corrupting the nation's holiday with "disgusting scenes of vulgarity, profanity, rioting, and drunkenness" (Commercial Advertiser, June 11, 1827).

"Our wives and children, who might else ramble through [the booths], in the enjoyment of innocent mirth and healthful pastime, are shut out by whiskey kegs and cider barrels, rum sellers and rum drinkers, until the grass plats which adorn the Park are strewed with drunken men and women, and its paths thronged with reeling sots. And all of this on the Fourth of July—our national jubilee!" (Commercial Advertiser, June 27, 1840).

Unexpected mayhem & death at several 19C July 4th celebrations



Explosion On A Crowded New York City Street On The Fourth Of July.

This chronology offers a glimpse at how the 4th of July was celebrated in public spaces with unexpected & sometimes tragic results in 19C America.  Some of these outdoor celebrations turned into unexpected calamities.

1815- In New York, a group of "patriotic tars" tries to "haul down the British colors" but they are dispersed by the police.

1831- Fourth of July celebrations near Washington DC, going nearly unnoticed, A tribe of Pequoad indians celebrate the Fourth of July with a series of war dances at a wigwam, south of Alexandria, Va.


1837 Cartoon of a 4th of July celebration

1840  In Portsmouth, N.H., a large pavilion erected in the form of an amphitheatre for 4th of July celebrations collapses throwing nearly a 1,000 people to the ground, resulting in many injuries but no deaths.

1841 At Parrott's Woods, near Georgetown (D.C.), the speaker's platform collapses, throwing celebraties D.C. Mayor William W. Seaton, George Washington P. Custis, and others dignitaries to the ground, but no one is injured.

1843- In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a church burns to the ground as a result of a firecracker "carelessly thrown by a boy."

1845- In Washington, D.C., on the grounds south of the Executive Mansion, 12 rockets are accidentally fired into the crowd, killing James Knowles and Georgiana Ferguson and injuring several others.   In Ithaca, N.Y., 3 persons are killed by an exploding cannon.

1853-  Some 500 residents of Baltimore go on an excursion to Annapolis, MD., and while there, some of them fight with a group of Annapolitans resulting in 2 persons killed, and several injured. 

1854-  The mayor of Wilmington, Delaware, is mobbed by a group of angry citizens after putting City Council member Joshua S. Valentine in jail for setting off firecrackers.

1855- In Worcester, Mass., angry citizens demonstrate against the city officials there who had refused to fund the town's Fourth of July celebration; in Columbus, Ohio, a parade of firemen, Turners and other societies, turns into a huge riot, resulting in one dead and several injured.

1856- The first Fourth of July celebration "west of the Big Woods" in Minnesota occurred and consisted of a bear hunt by several hunters. No report of any bears being killed or maimed.

1857- In Boston at the Navy Yard, the frigate Vermont is set on fire when "a wad" from an artillery salute "was blown on board of the hull"

1858-  At Niagara Falls, N.Y., at the celebration of the opening of the hydraulic canal, the dam gives way and water floods the area, but no one is critically injured.  

Alfred Cornelius Howland (American painter, 1838-1909) Fourth of July Parade

1860- In Jamestown, N.Y., the Museum Society, made up of children between the ages of 10 and 15, take charge of the celebration there, because most of the adults are not in town, but in Randolph, N.Y., celebrating without their children.

1863-  In Gettysburg, Pa., as the Rebel troops are making their escape from the great battle just fought there, when someone throws firecrackers among the ambulances carrying the wounded and causes a stampede of the horses and panic among the troops. 

1864- Secretary of State William Seward, riding in a carriage celebrting the 4th, narrowly avoids fatal injury when a rocket, set off by a young boy, strikes him above his eye.

1866- One of the worst fires ever to occur on Independence Day takes place in Portland, Maine, the blame was placed on an errant firecracker.

1867- In Washington DC, two members of the House of Representatives are arrested for violating a city ordinance prohibiting the setting off of firecrackers in the public streets. And a freight train carrying a "large quantity of fireworks" on route to a celebration in Springfield, MA derails near Charleston and the train is completely wrecked.

1868-  In Groton, Mass., the Lawrence Academy, is destroyed by fire due to a firecracker "thrown on the piazza by a boy." In Buffalo, NY, St. John's Episcopal Church burns to the ground due to a rocket that exploded in its spire.

1870-  In Marysville, Pa., at a picnic held by black military companies, a riot ensues with several persons shot.

1875- Several blacks and possibly one white are killed when a fray erupts at a Fourth of July celebration held at the Court House in Vicksburg, Miss.

1876- In Hamburg, South Carolina, an incident results in a massacre of African-Americans occurs.  

1880- The first Fourth of July celebration held in Uintah County, Utah, occurs and "only eight men and women were present."

1884- In Swan City, Colorado, angry miners blow up the town's Post Office, because they are not supplied with fireworks.


July 4th Parade with Goat Cart - Hayne Street in Monroe, NC

1893- In the Battery in New York, a gunner is put under arrest for inaccurate counting of a 21-gun national salute in which 23 rounds were fired.

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)


July 4th celebrations across 19C America as the number of states grew


"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."  John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776.  Although Adams was wrong about the date, his ideas carry forth until this day.

William P. Chappel (1800-1880) Tammany Society Celebrating the 4th of July, 1812. This scene depicts the Tammany Society celebrating the Fourth of July, 1812, in front of its "Wigwam" on Park Row; the Society's "Wigwam" is on the left; City Hall is on the right; in the distance is the Brick Presbyterian Church and St. Paul's Chapel.


This chronolgy offers a glimpse at how the 4th of July was celebrated in public spaces, in good times and bad in 19th-century America.  Some of these outdoor celebrations turned into unexpected calamities. John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail,  “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival...It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”



1800- In New York, the first local advertisements for fireworks appear and at the Mount Vernon Garden there a display of "a model of Mount Vernon, 20 feet long by 24 feet high, illuminated by several hundred lamps" is presented; Henry Clay gives an oration at the Lexington, Kentucky, Court House.

1801- In Boston, the frigates U.S.S. Constitution and U.S.S. Boston and the French corvette Berceau fire artillery salutes.

1804- The first Fourth of July celebration west of the Mississippi occurs at Independence Creek and is celebrated by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

1806- Two Revolutionary officers march in a parade in Bennington, Vt.

1807- In Washington, DC, the eagle which crowns the gate of the Navy Yard in Washington City is unveiled to the sound of a federal salute and music.

 1809 In New Haven, Conn., the citizens there have a "plowing match,"

1815- In New York, officers from the French frigate Hermione sit on reviewing stands in front of City Hall in order to review parading troops

1817- Near Rome, New York, a ground breaking ceremony occurs for the construction of the Erie Canal.

1818- At Fell's Point in Baltimore, the steamboat United States is launched from the shipyard of Flannigan and Beachem.

1819- An early and rare example of an Independence Day oration presented (to a group of women) by a woman ("Mrs. Mead") occurs on July 3 at Mossy Spring in Kentucky.

1820- Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins attends ceremonies in New York and the Constellation is decorated with numerous national and foreign flags in New York harbor; Signer Charles Carroll of Carrollton attends the celebration at Howard's Park in Baltimore with his copy of the Declaration of Independence in hand.

1822- At Mount Vernon, Judge Bushrod Washington announces that he will no longer allow "Steam-boat parties" and "eating, drinking, and dancing parties" on the grounds there; in Saratoga County, New York, 5000 citizens and 52 soldiers of the Revolution assemble there to celebrate the Fourth on the field where Gen. Burgoyne surrendered (October 17, 1777).

1823- An elaborate ceremony takes place at Mount Vernon with Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins in attendance.

1824- in Poultney, Vermont, 200 men celebrate the day by repairing a road, after which the "ladies of the neighborhood" serve them a "plenteons repast"; Fort Atkinson (Nebraska) celebrates the Fourth of July with artillery salutes, a military parade, and a dinner replete with toasts and music.

1825- President John Q. Adams marches to the Capitol from the White House in a parade that includes a stage mounted on wheels, representing 24 states; in Brooklyn, New York, the cornerstone for the Apprentices' Library is laid and Lafayette is in attendance.

1826- 50th anniversary ( referred to as the "Jubilee of Freedom" event) in Providence, R.I., four men who participated in the capture of the British armed schooner Gaspeduring the Revolutionary War ride in a parade; in Arlington, Va., Washington's tent, the same which the General used at the heights of Dorchester in 1775, is erected near the banks of the Potomac and is used for a celebration.

1827-  the Ohio Canal opens in Cleveland with Governor Allen Trimble arriving there on the first boat, State of Ohio.

1828- Charles Carroll, last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, participates in a Baltimore celebration and assists in the laying of the "first stone" of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; the frigate Constitution arrives at Boston returning from a cruise and fires "a salute in honor of the day"; the ground-breaking ceremony of the C & O Canal, north of Georgetown, takes place with President John Quincy Adams officiating.

1829- the embankments at the summit of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal are opened and water fills the canal, with large crowds and the Mayor of Philadelphia Benjamin W. Richards in attendance; in Cincinnati, an illuminated balloon, 15 feet in diameter, is sent aloft.

1831- in Alexandria, Va., a ground breaking ceremony for the Alexandria branch of the C&O Canal occurs, with G.W.P. Custis and town mayor John Roberts providing the speeches; in Georgetown, a " beautiful new packet boat, called the George Washington," commences her first run on the C&O Canal; in Charleston, S.C., citizens march in a parade carrying banners "on which were inscribed the names of battles fought in the Revolution, and in the late War"

1832- in Washington, Henry Clay attends the National Republican Celebration that's held on the bank of the Potomac River.


1837 Cartoon of a 4th of July celebration

1838- In Providence, Rhode Island, 29 veterans of the revolution take part in the procession there.

1839- In Hagerstown, Md., the only 2 surviving soldiers of the Revolutionary War there ride in a carriage pulled by white horses; in the New York harbor, 1000 ships converge, "all gaily dressed in honor of the day"; at Norfolk, an elephant "attached to the menagerie" there swims across the harbor from Town Point to the Portsmouth side and back.

1840-  in Providence, R.I., a "Clam Bake" is held and 220 bushes of clams are eaten; Oshkosh, Wisconsin, celebrates its first Fourth of July

1841- In New York, the steamship Fulton is anchored off the Battery and displays fireworks and "glittering lamps" in honor of the day.

1842- In New York harbor, the U.S. North Carolina, the frigate Columbia, and the English frigate Warspite exchange artillery salutes, and in the harbor as well, Sam Colt's "sub-marine experiment" for blowing up enemy ships is tested successfully; in Washington, D.C., the "Grand Total Abstinence Celebration," made up of several temperance societies, takes place there;

1843- The beginning of the annual tradition of lighting the Spring Park with candles in the Moravian community of Lititz, Pa.

1844- In Charleston, S.C., the faculty and trustees of Charleston College march in a city-wide "Festival of the Teachers and Scholars" parade; "Liberty Pole Raisings" and flag raisings in support of the Whigs political party take place in Louisville, Ky., Wheeling and Harper's Ferry, W.V., and Montrose, Pa.

1845- in Nashville, Tennessee, the corner-stone of the State House is laid.

1848- In Washington, the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington Monument takes place with the President of the United States, Dolley Madison, and other persons of distinction in attendance;

1850- The laying of a block of marble by the "Corporation" in the Washington Monument in the District of Columbia takes place.

1851- In Washington, President Fillmore assists in the laying of the "cornerstone of the new Capitol edifice" while Daniel Webster gives his last Fourth of July oration there; Greenville, S.C., holds an anti- secession celebration with 4,000 persons in attendance.

1853-  Williamsburg, Va., fires off a national salute of 32 guns by Captain Taft's Company of Light Artillery;  in Providence, R.I., the original carriage used by George Washington when he was in Providence is used in a parade there;  In Cowlitz, Washington, a liberty pole is raised and the crowd there is addressed in French by "Dr. Pasquirer" who reminds them to thank "Lafayette for aid in our struggle for independence."

1854- Henry David Thoreau gives a "Slavery in Massachusetts" oration at Framingham Grove, near Boston; in Farmingham, Mass., 600 abolitionists meet and watch William Lloyd Garrison burn printings of the Constitution of the U.S. and Fugitive Slave Law, "amid applause and cries of shame";

1855-  Lawrence, Kansas, holds one of the largest outdoor celebrations in that part of the country, with a crowd of over 1,500 persons.

1856- The "inauguration" of an equestrian statue (29 feet high) made by Henry K. Brown of George Washington is dedicated in New York;

1857-  near Lexington, Kentucky, a corner stone of a national monument to the memory of Henry Clay is laid.

1858- Illinois Central Railroad workers attempt to launch a "monster balloon" called the "Spirit of '76" in Chicago; in Brooklyn, N.Y., the corner-stone of the Armory is laid;  Jefferson Davis gives a 4th of July speech on board a steamer bound from Baltimore to Boston and declares "this great country will continue united."

1859- Denver celebrates its First Fourth of July at a grove near the mouth of Cherry Creek. Dr. Fox read the Declaration of Independence, Jas. R. Shaffer delivered the orations, and music was provided by the Council Bluffs Band.


Alfred Cornelius Howland (American painter, 1838-1909) Fourth of July Parade

1861- An artillery salute of 15 guns is fired at Camp Jackson near Pigs Point, Va., in honor of the Southern States that have declared and are declaring their independence; in Baltimore, the citizens there present a "splendid silk national flag, regimental size," to the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment; in Washington, D.C., 29 New York regiments are reviewed by the President at the White House; Gov. John A. Andrew of Massachusetts celebrates the 4th with the 1st Massachusetts Regiment at Camp Banks near Georgetown, D.C.

1862- A pyrotechnic depiction of the battle between the Monitor and Merrimac takes place in New York.

1863- In Concord, N.H., former president Franklin Pierce addresses 25,000 persons at the "Democratic Mass Meeting" held there; in Buffalo, N.Y., 17 veterans of the War of 1812 march in a parade there; at Annapolis, a "flag of truce" boat filled with Secessionist women from Philadelphia and elsewhere leaves on July 3rd and travels south;


 May 15, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Agricultural Act that established the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

1865- One of the first "Freedmen" celebrations occurs, in Raleigh, N.C.; Lincoln's "Emanicipation Proclamation" is publicly read in Warren, Ohio, and Belpassi, Oregon; the National Monument Association lays the cornerstone of the Soldier's Monument in Gettysburg; in Boston, a statue of Horace Mann is "inaugurated"; the celebration by the Colored People's Educational Monument Association in memory of Abraham Lincoln occurs in Washington, D.C.in Albany, N.Y., 100 "tattered" Civil War battle flags are presented to the state and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant is in attendance;  Union General William Tecumseh Sherman participates in a 4th of July civic celebration in Louisville, Ky., and witnesses a balloon ascension there; in Hopewell, New Jersey, a monument to the memory of John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, is dedicated and New Jersey Governor Joel Parker delivers an oration; Helena, Montana celebrates its first Fourth of July, at Owyece Park, with an oration by George M. Pinney.

1866- General George G. Meade watches 10,000 war veterans parade in Philadelphia;

1867- The cornerstone of the new Tammany Hall is laid in New York while the cornerstone for a monument to George Washington is laid at Washington's Rock, N.J.; the Illinois State Association celebrates on the grounds of the Civil War battle field at Bull Run in Virginia;

1868- in Richmond, some black "societies" parade, "but there is no public celebration by the whites";
1869- A monument dedicated to George Washington is unveiled in Philadelphia; in New York, 350 Cuban "patriot" residents parade "to evoke sympathy for the Cuban revolutionary cause"; blacks celebrate the Fourth on July 3rd in Columbia, S.C.; the Declaration of Independence is read in English and German at a public celebration at Diamond Square in Pittsburgh.

1870- President Ulysses S. Grant participates in Fourth of July opening exercises in Woodstock, Conn.;


1871 4th of July parade on North Main Street Los Angeles

1871- The New Saenger Hall is dedicated in Toledo, Ohio;  the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence on the grounds of Mount Vernon takes place, the reader is John Carroll Brent, a member of D.C.'s Oldest Inhabitants Association.

1872- A monument representing an infantry soldier of the Civil War is unveiled in White Plains, N.Y.; Richmond, Va., publicly celebrates the Fourth, the first time in 12 years.

1873- In Philadelphia, the transfer of Fairmount Park for use by the Centennial Commission in preparation for the International Exhibition and Centennial Celebration in 1876 takes place;  in Buffalo, N.Y., a "large delegation" of native Americans and Canadians attend a ceremony there.


Fourth of July celebration, Snohomish, Washington, c 1874

1874- In Saybrook, Conn., the Thomas C. Acton Library is dedicated;  in Lancaster, Pa., the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Penn Square is dedicated; Modesto, California, holds its first Fourth of July celebration and music was provided by the Modesto Brass Band.

1875- In Augusta, Georgia, the white military celebrates the Fourth, the first time in that town since the Civil War; on the Centennial Grounds in Philadelphia, the Order of B'nai B'rith hold "exercises" incident to the breaking of the ground for their proposed statue to religious liberty; at Atoka, "Indian Territory," a celebration of the Fourth by Native Americans takes place with 3,000 persons participating. 


1 Grand Army of the Republic in Parade

1876- Centennial celebrations (many are three-day celebrations, 3-5 July) occur throughout the United States and abroad; in Philadelphia at Fairmount Park, two separate celebrations include the German societies unveiling a statue of Baron Alexander von Humboldt; in Philadelphia as well, General Sherman reviews the troops as they parade;  the long-standing tradition of Navy vessels participating in July 4th celebrations in Bristol, R.I., begins with the presence there of the U.S. sloop Juniata; in Washington, 300 artillery blasts are fired, 100 at sunrise, 100 at noon, 100 at sunset; in Richmond, Va., the U.S. and Virginia flags are raised on the Capitol for the first time on the Fourth in 16 years;  in New Orleans, Louisiana, the monitor Canonicus fires a salute from the Mississippi River; in Joliet, in Quincy, Illinois, the cornerstone of the new Court House is laid; in San Francisco, a mock engagement with the iron-clad Monitor occurs and there is a parade there that is over 4 miles long, with 10,000 participants; in Savannah, Georgia, a centennial tree is planted, accompanied by appropriate speeches; in Utica, New York, 30 veterans of the War of 1812 join in a parade along with two of Napoleon's soldiers.


Confederate Fife & Drum Corps

1877- In Woodstock, Conn., Roseland Park is dedicated and Oliver Wendell Homes reads his poem, "The ship of state, above her skies are blue."

1879- at Sunbury, Pa., Gov. Hoyt unveils a statue of Col. Cameron; in Charleston, S.C., the Lafayette Artillery, "a white militia company," fires an artillery salute, the first since 1860.

1880- Gen. James A. Garfield, is guest speaker at the dedication of the Soldiers' Monument in Painesville, Ohio; in Boston, a statue of Revolutionary War patriot Samuel Adams is unveiled; in San Francisco the first daytime fireworks ever exhibited in the country takes place at Woodward's Gardens;


4th of July parade float in Huntsville, Alabama

1882- Buffalo, N.Y., celebrates its 50th anniversary as the laying of a cornerstone for a soldiers' monument takes place there; the chapel of Dutch Neck Church in Princeton Junction, N.J. is dedicated.

1883- The Declaration of Independence is read in Swedish at a celebration at Bergquist Park in Moorhead, Minn.; 700 Yankton and Sautee Sioux participate in a Fourth celebration in Yankton, S.D.; a monument to George Cleaves and Richard Tucker, "the first settlers of Portland," is unveiled in Portland, Maine; in Woodstock, Conn., John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, "Our Country," is read at the public celebration there; Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show opens at North Platte, Neb.; former President Rutherford B. Hayes is in Woodstock, Conn., attending the ceremony and giving a speech; in Plainfield, N.J., a Revolutionary cannon (dating to 1780), known as the "one-horn cannon," is fired.


1885 The 1862 gold town of Canyon City, Oregon, The Independence Day parade

1884- The formal presentation of the Statue of Liberty takes place in the Gauthier workshop in Paris;  in Swan City, Colorado, miners blow up the town's Post Office because they are not supplied with fireworks.


July 4th Parade with Goat Cart - Hayne Street in Monroe, NC

1885- Gen. Abraham Dally, 89-year old veteran of the War of 1812 raises the flag at the Battery in New York while the French man-of-war La Flore, decorated with flags and bunting, holds a public reception on board in New York harbor; in Jamestown, N.Y., a mock Civil War battle is fought.


4th of July float on the brick streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma

1887- First Fourth of July celebration in Yellowstone National Park takes place;  in Providence, R.I., a statue of Union Army General Ambrose Burnside is unveiled.


1890 4th of July Parade, Denver, Colorado.

1888- A commemoration of Francis Scott Key and dedication of the first monument of him in the West is unveiled in San Francisco; in Amesbury, Mass., a statue of Josiah Bartlett, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, is unveiled.


  Deadwood, South Dakota 1888

1890- In Chattanooga, Tenn., 2,000 Confederate veterans march in a parade, without Confederate flags, while four generals (Gen. George B. Gordon, La.; Gen. W.S. Cabell, Tex.; Gen. E. Kirby Smith, Tenn.; Gen. "Tige" Anderson, Georgia) give speeches there; in Portland, Maine, General Sherman and other generals attend the Army of the Potomac celebration there.


Grange float 4th of July parade in Evansville, Indiana

1891- A Tioga County, N.Y., soldier's monument is unveiled in Owego, N.Y.; in Plainfield, N.J., a cannon used in the War of 1812 is fired; in Newark, N.J., at Caledonian Park, 5,000 German Saengerbunders, accompanied by an orchestra of 200 pieces, sing the "Star-Spangled Banner"; on this day, Cheraw, S.C., is the first town in that state to celebrate the Fourth in over 30 years; the Seventy-Second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers from Philadelphia dedicates a bronze monument in Gettysburg; in Buffalo, N.Y., the Society of Veterans parade in honor of the Army of the Potomac.


 4th of July 1800's at Bridge Main Street Catesville, TX

1892-  in New York, ground is broken for the statue of Columbus, a gift from Italy to the city; in New York harbor, the Brazilian cruiser Almirante Barroso is gayly decorated with a 40-foot American flag.


Calaveras County, California 4th of July parade

1893-  a bronze statue made by Thomas Ball of P.T. Barnum is unveiled in Bridgeport, Conn.


Deadwood, South Dakota 1890s

1894- In Huntington, N.Y., a memorial to Captain Nathan Hale is unveiled; Vice President Stevenson gives a speech on the historic battlefield of Guilford Court House in Greensboro, N.C.; in Cleveland, the dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument takes place and Gov. William McKinley gives a speech at the ceremony; at the state fair of Illinois, the corner stone of the exposition building is laid; in Montevideo, Minnesota, the Camp Release Monument, commemorating the Dakota Conflict of 1862, is dedicated;


Turn of the century 4th of July parade New York

1884- in Laconia NH merchants agreed to close their businesses at 12 noon on the 4th, so all could attend the Ancient Order of the Hibernian picnic at Lake Shore Park, where $200 worth of fireworks would top off a day anticipated to bring “a monster crowd of four or five thousand people, largely from Concord and Manchester and low rates have been obtained on the railroads.”


4th of July parade in Minnesota

1896- In Brooklyn, N.Y., a bronze statue of Maj. Gen. Gouverneur Kemble Warren, commander of the Fifth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, is unveiled.


Early 1900s 4th of July Celebration, Seaside, Oregon

1897-  in Avondale, Ohio, Thomas C. McGrath unveils a statue of Thomas Jefferson "on the lawn in front of his beautiful residence on Rockdale and Wilson Avenues."


Westward Expansion float

1898- At Washington Grove, Md., a few miles outside of Washington, D.C., Mrs. J. Ellen Foster is the orator of the day and gives a traditional Fourth of July address; in Auburn, Calif., the Placer County Courthouse is dedicated; in Waynesburg, Pa., the cornerstone for the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument for Civil War veterans of Greene County is laid.


1900 Fourth of July Parade in Salida, Chaffee County, Colorado

1899- "Horseless-carriages" take part in a Fourth celebration in Dyersville, Iowa; in Helena, Montana, the cornerstone of the new State Capitol is laid.


Alaska July 4th Celebration


4th of July parade at the turn of the century in Indiana



1912 Frederick, Maryland 4th of July Parade


Uncle Sam

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)