Saturday, July 4, 2020

America - A Struggle between Aspirations & Realities - July 4th in NYC's Public Gardens 1790s -1810

Many 4th of July celebrations took place in American commercial gardens. A public pleasure garden was a privately owned (as opposed to governmentally owned) ornamental ground or piece of land, open to the public as a resort or amusement area, and operated as a business. Shortly after the ratification of the Constitution--by the early 1790's--the 4th of July emerged as the most popular holiday celebration in America's commercial gardens. Garden owners believed that they could not survive in the new nation offering the traditional mindless, "decadent," entertainments that characterized their British prototypes.

Their gardens would now serve as stages for presenting the new nation's ideologies & symbols. Their goal was to draw a broad spectrum of citizens past their admission gates to share in the exciting inspiration of commonly recognized symbols.

Garden proprietors recognized that some garden guests were classically educated, while others could not read. They hoped the commercial garden would serve as the common denominator. If man could be clever enough to order & regulate the nature that had ruled his life for thousands of years into an artful, inspirational, & still profitable garden, surely he could be clever enough to create a government that would allow him the freedom to order & regulate his own life.

Proprietors needed to attract patrons from across the social spectrum to remain financially successful. Profits depended on the volume of the sales of admissions, food, candles, & drinks. If partons were inspired to higher levels of patriotism & morals while spending their money, all the better. But the number of public gardens was growing, & the new citizens now had their choice of a variety of commercial gardens to patronize. People were attracted to gardens that were most comfortable for them.

Conservative citizens usually patronized the sober tea & coffee gardens, while their less inhibited compatriots enjoyed the drinks & conviviality at the tavern gardens. Many traditional garden owners relied on simple symbols to stimulate their patrons' patriotism. This was particularly true in the conservative, predominately Federalist gardens.

When inclement weather caused Baltimore's John Jalland, owner of Jalland's Gardens, to reschedule his annual 4th of July ceremony in 1794, the proprietor promised his disappointed, tea-drinking patrons that the rain-delayed garden illumination would "take place with splendor, in commemoration of a day which every tyrant must abhor, but which every friend of liberty must venerate as the first dawn of Gallic freedom." Jalland also vowed to provide music "suitable to the occasion" of the anniversary of his nation's Declaration of Independence.

Symbolism was important on the 4th of July, but so was the enthusiastic commemoration of freedom, both national & personal. Because of this, the holiday was often a time of unbridled celebration during the 1790s & the early years of the 19th century; and sometimes Independence Day festivities, even at the most elegant public pleasure gardens, got out of hand.

During its regular entertainments & special celebrations, Gray's Chatsworth Garden in Baltimore was usually the scene of "politeness, delicacy, and uniform conviviality;" however, occasionally rogues & "unprincipled fellows" disrupted the civility of the town's most pretentious pleasure garden. Shortly after the annual July 4th illumination & musical celebration in 1794, at Grey's Chatsworth, a notice in a local Baltimore paper reported that "a number of Lamps were destroyed and carried off from the Garden...which rendered the illumination...incomplete." The proprietor declared that he was outraged by this "shameful conduct" and offered a generous reward to anyone who would "inform him of the depredators."

A few public garden proprietors had the luxury of not worrying about their financial success, & sometimes these owners were not interested in attracting the general public into their gardens. In 1793, when the exclusive Belvedere House and garden opened in New York City, the Sons of Liberty rented the private clubhouse & grounds to celebrate the 4th of July with an outdoor ceremony featuring 13 exploding cannon salutes followed by a long evening of dining & drinking.

Apparently the affluent gentlemen of the Belvedere Club decided that the freedom's sons & their roaring cannon bursts were a little too egalitarian & too boisterous for the regualar members' more refined tastes; and for the next several years, the pseudo-aristocratic Society of the Cincinnati discreetly toasted the 4th of July at the club's estate. No more rentals to those rowdy Sons of Liberty. But most 4th of July celebrations in commercial pleasure gardens were not limited to specific groups.

The general public could attend any one of several celebrations in cities throughout the new republic during the 1790s. At Gray's Gardens in Philadelphia in 1790, concerts & fireworks filled the air. The colors of each state draped across the floating bridge which was decorated with masses of flowers & shrubbery. One of the exhibits from Philadelphia's federal procession celebration of 1789, a ship "Union" flying the flags of all nations, lay in the waters near the gardens. Here was the a symbol of the new nation taking its rightful place among the other great countries of the world.

Also in Gray's gardens, a "Federal Temple" displayed a vault representing the federal union, which held 12 stones plus a keystone representing Rhode Island. The Constitution was now ratified, & the stronger union was finally secure. Thirteen young women dressed as shepherdesses plus 13 young men attired as shepherds emerged from the grove in the garden & surrounded the "Federal Temple," where they joined to sing an ode to liberty consisting of solos, choruses, & responses. The shepherds & shepardesses emerging from the grove reminded the audience of the pure virgin land that spawned the virtuous new republic. As evening fell, the whole garden was lighted as all eyes were drawn to an illuminated portrait of Predident George Washington.

In New York, French immigrant garden owners prepared the most elaborate symbolic spectacles to present in their gardens, which usually catered to a more Democratic-Republican audience. Joseph Delacroix announced his 1st Independence Day Celebration at his public garden Vauxhall in New York City in July of 1797, "Vauxhall Garden...will be decorated and illuminated in a beautiful manner, and the ever memorable day will be celebrated with music & singing." Delacroix declared that his goal was to transform his public garden into a series of inspiring symbols "to call to mind the American Heroes who...contributed to its independence."

Delacroix chose one of the new nation's most enduring symbols for the entrance to his garden. He decorated the main entrance facade to represent that untouched forest symbolizing the pristine genesis of the virgin nation which Gray's Garden in Philadelphia had also emphasized. Most garden guests would understand the significance of this recreation on at least some level.


After Joseph Delacroix's New York garden guests paid their admission fees & passed through the symbolic virgin forest entrance, they were surrounded by a nature highly improved by man. Here was gardening as an art form, full of symbols & layers of meanings. Delacroix represented each of the now 16 states in brilliant colors designating each state's individual name & star at stopping points along the lighted paths of his garden . Delacroix "re-united" each of the separated individual state symbols with a chain of flowers. The chain of flowers represented the still new United States Constitution.

The Frenchman honored the nation's heros by placing an illuminated transparent painting of "the brave Gen. Washington" in one corner of the garden and "the venerable Franklin" in another area. Delacroix also commissioned transparencies representing the myths & legends of ancient Greece & Rome plus emblems personifying qualities & ideals.

One transparency depicted "Fortune" rising from the ocean's waters emblematic of the prosperity of the nation's commerce. A depiction of Apollo playing on a lyre presided over the celebration. One of Apollo's duties in ancient Greek myth was to act as the god of music. As the new republic began to look at Washington as a god, and to its war heros as demi-gods, it seemed natural for Apollo to entertain.

Another of Delacrois's illuminated garden transparencies represented "Presi. Washington on a pedestal, with his successor, Mr. Adams, with this inscription Omni pro Patria." Gardens guests could remain secure in their belief that the country would not fall with the passing of one leader but would continue in an unbroken chain of democracy. And to remind the revelers of the price of this democracy, an obelisk honoring Revolutionary War heros Montgomery, Warren, & Greene sat nearby in the garden.

Delacroix hired an artist to paint a Lady Columbia supporting the arts of the United States, while "reposing on a bank of flowers" underscored by the inscription, "The wisdon of her government makes her happy." In her left hand she balanced the part of the globe representing America, plus a brilliant Sun "darting on its rays on that part more than any other." In her right hand she held a scroll "in which is wrote the Federal Constitution, Bill of Rights."

The 1797 celebration at Delacroix's Vauxhall ended with a grand fireworks display climaxing a concert "of Vocal and instrumental Music." Tickets costing 6 shillings entiitled each person to a glass of ice cream, punch, or lemonade. "To obviate difficulties and confusion, no other liquors will be furnished that evening." One New York City newspaper sent a reporter to review the whole spectacle. He reported that Delacroix's patriotic extravaganza "excited the most pleasing emotions" in the city's citizenry.

In 1798, Delacroix presented several allegorical representations of America on 4 new transparent paintings each 16 feet high. One depicted Columbus landing in America; another represented the 13 original states; a third represented the English evacuation of New York at the end of the Revolution; and the fourth was Jupiter standing amid American emblems & mottos. In Roman mythology Jupiter represented the essence of all divine power;and as Jupiter Latiaris, he presided over Rome's important holiday festivals.

The climax of Delacriox's 1798 4th of July celebration centered around a depiction of a Temple of Independence, where Lady Liberty stood on the globe of America, pointing to the tombs of Revolutionary war heros who died in defense of the rights of their country, with the inscription "Imitate Them."

Delacroix did not design his symbolism to be subtle. His Temple of Independence was surrounded by the American frigates The Contellation, Constitution, & The United States. As a climax to the evening's festivities, the owner unfurled an American flag above the temple & shot a rocket into the air above the garden from the temple, while the the frigates simultaneously fired 16 exploding stars representing each of the states, to join the rocket of independence lighting the evening air above the scene.

Delacroix planned an even more elaborate thematic allegory for his commercial garden Vauxhall in 1799. He dotted the garden squares & paths of his grounds with 16 wooden summer houses representing each state & individually decorated in the colors of each. Patrons arriving early enough could sit in the summer house of their choice to celebrate the confederation.

Garden owner Delacroix added to his previous year's flat, painted Temple of Independence a three dimensional representation of the Constitution depicted as a gold column. He also commissioned a full size bust of George Washington & a 6 foot tall companion figure of Fame holding a laurel crown in one hand & a trumpet in the other proclaiming that fame "crowns real Merit."

In another section of the garden, a Temple of Mercury "80 feet front, 40 feet high, and 130 in circumference" displayed large models of George Washington's plantation, Mt. Vernon in Virginia; the John Quincy Adam's town home in Quincy, Massachusets; and the Warren monument at Bunker Hill in Massachusettes.

To highlight the evening, Delacroix hired actors to present a living tableau depicting various aspects of George Washington's public & private life in allegory.

For the 4th of July in 1806, garden entrepeneur Delacroix offered a moving diorama nearly 1000 feet long depicting the procession held in New York in 1788 honoring the adoption of the Federal Constitution. In 1807 & 1808, Delacroix presented allegorical designs honoring liberty, peace, patriotism, battles won & lost by America's military heros, particularly George Washington.

In 1798, Delacroix gained a strong competitor. When French immigrant Joseph Corré opened Columbia Garden in New York City, he commissioned 6 giant transparent paintings the inspire the 4th of July garden revelers visiting his new pleasure grounds. Corré's transparencies stood 18 feet tall.

Corre chose to have his obligatory portrait of George Washington supported by the "Geniuses of commerce, and the God of the Sea" who were grouped on a foundation of dolphins. Sea trade had traditionally been the key to the new nation's economic well-being. Garlands of flowers ornamented the painting. A companion portrait of President John Adams was also surrounded by symbolic geniuses.

Corre's remaining 4 paintings were purely emblematic. One depicted widsom as Minerva holding an olive branch to remind the viewer that the maintainance of virtue promised peace both within the new republic & with other nations. Fidelity was painted as a woman holding a basket of flowers & ears of corn, accompanied by a faithful dog close by her feet. A veil convered another female figure representing Piety. She held a cornucopia in her right hand, while her left hand rested on the head of an innocent child.

To counterbalance the peaceful images, Hercules depicted force. He held a club in one hand & stood next to a lion which symbolized heroic virtue, reminding garden revelers that virtuous force might be needed to maintain & expand the new republic. Corré enriched the whole display "with flags & warlike trophies." The next year he added a carved "figure of Fame" to his July 4th lineup of heros & emblems.

Corré declared that "as Public Gardens are for the amusement and recreation of the public, something new should be added yearly" to the Independence Day festivities. In 1801, he imported a collection of "large Busts...the immortal Washington, Socrates, Cicero, Demonsthenes, Mercury, Juno, Flora, Niobe, Ariadne, Vestal, Amour" & Narcissus. Socrates, Cicero, & Demonsthenes added classical wisdom to the garden surroundings. Amour suggested the more intimate pleasures of the garden setting.

Corré's initial public garden was so successful, that he opened a 2nd commercial garden in New York City called Mount Vernon in honor of the nation's 1st president shortly after Washington's death. For his first Independence Day ceremony at the new garden in 1800, Corré erected a pyramid near his garden fountain featuring a classical vase "lately imported from Europe" in addition to 19 garden statues representing Socrates, Cicero, Cleopatra, Shakespeare, Milton, "the illustrious and immortal Washington," plus various figures from Greek mythology.

Corre climaxed the event in his new garden with an evening fireworks display. In 1801, Corré's program at his Mount Vernon garden revolved around Washington including full length portraits of Washington, Warren, Mercer, Greene, Montgomery, Putnam, DeKalb, & Franklin. Illuminated paintings of national allegorical figures & scenes as well as a fireworks "battle between 26 ships of the line, being a representation of the battle fought between the British and French fleets in the Bay of Albankiv" concluded the spectacular.

In 1802, Corré climaxed his 4th of July celebration with fireworks depicting the coat of arms of the United States; the Cross of the Society of the Cincinnati with an eagle in the center; and a profile of President Jefferson in fire. Each of Corre's Independence Day celebrations during these years revolved around George Washington. Most commercial pleasure garden 4th of July celebrations for the ten years after George Washington's death in 1799, centered around the hero's life.

Even before Washington's death in 1799, Joseph Delacroix offered a fireworks in June of 1798, especially in his honor which ended with "a nosegay of fire...(leaving) a golden column standing, on which is placed the goddess 'Fame' 8 feet high, holding a wreath of Laurel in one hand & Washington with the other." Within 4 years of his death, the garden owner added a permanent tribute to Washington to his garden ornamentation. One visitor described the scene, "The illuminated walks on every side were irresistably inviting, and the lofty statue of Washington standing elegantly conspicuous in a brilliant area drew the general gaze."

After Washington's death, displays in New York City's French-owned public pleasure gardens began to deify him, especially those of competitors Joseph Corré & Joseph Delacroix. In his 1802 Independence Day commemoration, Delacroix presented a personification of Washington arriving on the scene at Vauxhall Garden in a triumphal carriage pulled by six horses driven by the figure of America and then being placed by America's heroes (Warren, Otis, Putnam, Greene, etc) on a military trophy in the Middle of the Temple of Immortality. After a proper musical & rifle salute, two geniuses descended from above bearing a civic crown placed on Washington's head by the Figure of Gratitude.

In 1803, Delacroix unveiled his bronzed life-size equestrian statue of President George Washington standing on a pedestal composed of 16 columns, representing the 16 states, surrounding a large center shaft. Washington, in full military attire, pointed "his sword towards the Narrows, the passage through which the British retired at the final evacuation of the United States."

Delacroix redecorated the area of his garden where he set the statue--which he named "the field of Mars" -- with gilt military trophies, garlands of white roses, & drawings illustrating Washington's military career. Washington was the American Mars. Mars represented the ancient Roman god of war who the Romans worshiped in three capacities: as Mars Gradivus, the warrior god; as Mars Silvanus, a rustic divinity who presided over agriculture; and as Mars Quirinus, the protector of the state. As Ultor, the avenger, the Roman Mars punished the enemies of Rome just as the military Washington vanquished the British ememies of America. Washington was the Mars of the new republic.

Of his 1801 Independence Day celebration at his new garden Corre advertised that "The tomb in which Gen. Washington was buried at the foot of Mount Vernon will be exactly represented. While Mr. Fox delivers a monody at the door of the vault...the ghost of Washington will arise! and (be) borne to heaven by cherubs amidst a flourish of trumpets, in the presence of the audience."

Here Washington was more than the American Mars, Washington was a new national savior figure rising to heaven to sit somewhere near the right hand of the Father and Son. After dispatching Washington to heaven in 1801, Corre could hardly bring him back the for the next year's 4th of July celebration, so he had Fame descend from heaven in 1802 "in a cloud surrounded by the sun" carrying a portrait of Washington, that she placed in the Temple of Independence which Corré had erected in his garden.

By the end of the first decade of the 19th century, commercial pleasure gardens had pushed the celebration of the 4th of July about as far as they could. Attendence dwindled; and in 1809, French entrepeneur Joseph Delecouix placed his New York City garden for sale.

Amazingly, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1826, two of the most famous signers of the document, Presidents John Adams & Thomas Jefferson, died. And ironically on that same day, in Maryland, the Frederick-Town Herald decided to no longer publish 4th of July celebrations & toasts, which they declared to be "generally dull, insipid affairs, about which few feel any interest."

America - A Struggle between Aspirations & Realities - July 4th Ceremonies Before 1850

After the Revolution, friends & strangers, rich & poor, would gather together in sweltering July weather in public parks and in neighbors' gardens to celebrate the new nation's independence.
John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Fourth of July in Centre Square Philadelphia, 1812

In Maryland, Rosalie Stier Calvert wrote to her father of attending a 4th of July party of more than 100 people, held on the banks of the Potomac under a 70 foot long tent decorated with garlands of laurel. The table was "very well provisioned" for the garden feast.  Guests were asked to come in "American made clothes," and only wines and liquors made in Virginia were served -- apple & peach brandy and whiskey. "It was a completely patriotic fete." Fourth of July picnics and barbecues often were set up in near water or under the shade of a grove of trees to protect the celebrants from from the heat of the day.

The Reverand Mr. William Bentley, pastor of the East Church in Salem, Massachusettes, noted in his diary on July 4, 1792, "The day of our INDEPENDeNCE, to be celebrated in every part of the United States. Boston has given notice of its intentions, & the patriotic Sons of Gloucester have published the same purpose. For ourselves a few are to enjoy a Turtle feast at the Fort."

In the new Washington City in 1795, over 100 persons gathered to celebrate the Declaration of Independence near the tree-lined banks of the meandering Rock Creek with a dinner prepared by the owner of the Washington Tavern. (Columbian Chronicle, 7 July 1795)

In Frederick, Maryland, in 1805, the town's residents assembled for a 4th of July dinner at Mr. John Dare's spring, near the shady banks of the beautiful Monocacy River. (The Hornet, 9 July 1805)

And at St. Johns College in the old Maryland capitol of Annapolis in 1812, "a handsome dinner prepared by Mr. Isaac Parker, on the College Green, under the shade of that majestic Poplar" to celebrate the nation's independence. (Maryland Gazette, 9 July 1812)

Near Philadelphia on July 4, 1814, an organization called Tamanny Society's Wigwam met at Richmond, on the shady banks of the Delaware River and "sat down to two tables, of 160 feet each in length, well and plentifully supplied with the best products of the season." (Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 6 July 1814)
John L. Krimmel (1785-1821), a German artist who came to the US in 1810 & settled in Philadelphia. 4th of July in Center Square, 1819.

One of the drawbacks of having 4th of July public dinners and other meals, especially those where the food was left outdoors in the hot weather for a considerable period of time, was the likelihood that people would get sick. The spread of disease, especially cholera, through the sharing of eating utensils and condiments was also of concern. In 1820, in Washington DC, the editor of the National Intelligencer described in an editorial the danger of public celebrations and suggested that eating in taverns might not be the best thing to do: There are many objections, indeed, to the usual manner of commemorating the day; and it is hardly a subject of regret that ceremonies have been dispensed with which serve little other purpose than to fatigue those who engage in them, and are, to many the foundations of disease. We yet hope to see some mode devised of honoring the day, which shall not necessarily connect itself with exposure to a boiling sun, nor yet with tavern dinners. (National Intelligencer, 4 July 1820, 3.)

To celebrate the 4th of July in 1821, in Amherst, New Hampshire, the entire town decided to not have the traditional town ceremony but to gather together to go fishing in a nearby pond and then to cook up two large pots of fish chowder for all to enjoy. (Hillsboro Telegraph, 6 July 1821)

At some outdoor public celebrations, commercial vendors set up booths & tables to provide refreshments for citizens, as they attended Fourth of July events. During the 1820 4th of July celebration in Washington D.C., turtle soup was offered at Lepreux & Kervand's "near the 7 buildings," from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and at Burckhart & Koenig at the Columbia Garden beginning at 12 noon. Both vendors offered carry-out service. (National Intelligencer, 3-4 July 1820)

Clam soup was a New York City favorite. Actually, New Yorkers strolling through Central Park in 1824, could chose from more than soup. Vendor booths in shady Central Park offered "baked beans, roast pig and punch, custards and clam soup." (New York Daily Advertiser, 5 July 1824)

Another large outdoor dinner took place on the Washington Parade grounds in in 1826 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Tables were arranged in lines 500 feet in length under a temporary covered arbor and "were tastefully decorated with flowers and evergreens." For this huge celebration, the butchers of Greenwich Market cooked & served "roasted oxen" The Governor of New York was served first. He took the first cut of an ox. A crowd of citizens & military then pressed forward, formed a line the whole length of the arbour, and commenced a spirited attack upon the eatables & drinkables, in the most gallant style of epicurean emulation. The attack continued with unabated ardour until the victory was complete, and the whole assailing force, satisfied with their share of booty when they retired in a peaceable and creditable manner at an early hour. (Richmond Enquirer, 14 July 1826)

The same newspaper reported that in nearby Petersburg, Virginia, 200 citizens gathered at Poplar Spring for dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fourth of July. (Richmond Enquirer, 11 July 1826)

Four years later, turtle soup had been added to the take-out menu on the Fouth of July in New York City. "Flushing Bay Clam and Turtle soup . . . [was] served up in the usual style, at the Flushing Hotel," while "green turtle soup" was available at the Washington Hall dinner in July of 1828. (New-York Enquirer, 4 July 1828, 2-3).

Tickets were required for most 4th of July celebrations, but at the 1826 dinner 50th anniversary commemoration in Charlotte, North Carolina, soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War "were invited to partake 'without money, and without price." (Charleston Courier, 21 July 1826)

Outdoor public dinners often allowed for the presence of women, but females were typically not invited to organization celebrations. At such fetes, the food was usually prepared & served by men only. In 1802, a Mr. Kindig served a 4th of July dinner to men at Good Spring near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (10 July 1802)

On Maryland's Eastern Shore, on July 4, 1816, "a meeting of gentlemen" was held on the property of Mr. Rue's tavern, where the gentlemen reportedly enjoyed a "sumptious dinner." Republican Star, 9 July 1816)

Several years later in New Haven, Connecticut, Col. George Ward provided the 1834 Fourth of July dinner for a large assemblage of "republicans."  (Columbian Register, 28 June 1834)

Although they would not be allowed to vote in the United States until 1920, the often excluded woman were not above taking matters in to their own hands on occasion. At Mossy Spring, Kentucky, in 1819, a group of determined pioneer women "seated themselves on the grass" and celebrated the holiday with food which each had brought from home. Copying the typical progression of the gentelmen's dinners, a patriotic oration was presented by one of the female diners followed by an offering of 13 "resolutions," not toasts, which the ladies feared might "be deemed unfeminine." (Commentator, Frankfort, Kentucky, 30 July 1819)

The seriousness with which the people at that time viewed the separation of the sexes as regards their roles played out in a July Fourth celebration is best exemplified by this unusual occurrence that took place in Peterborough, N.H., in 1829. Apparently the men in that town shirked their responsibility in arranging for their usual Fourth of July dinner, so the women took matters into their own hands, causing considerable surprise, A rare instance of female patriotism took place in Peterborough, N.H. on the 4th inst. As we are informed. The ladies of that flourishing and intelligent borough, gave the gentlemen a dinner. This is somewhat a novel instance; but strikes us as being a mode which is peculiarly well calculated to show the gentlemen how far they have swerved from their duty; and learn them by an example of the kindest hospitality that they are either deficient of courtesy, or of a laudable share of patriotism--or, possibly it might have been done from the purest sympathy for them to cheer and comfort their hearts while they are brooding over the misery which the "searching operation" of the "virtuous President" has brought or is speedily bringing about in the land ("Female Patriotism," Boston Daily Journal, 5 July 1855, 2).

To celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence at Northampton, Massachusettes, in 1824, the town's genteel ladies held a "Tea Party on the Green, presenting a brilliant and enchanting scene." (Boston Evening Gazette, 10 July 1824

Another similar unusual instance occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1842, when the ladies of Franklin gave a "dinner party" for the "Cadet Boys" resulting in what "was a very magnificent affair." As reported by a participant, "Those unsophisticated country lasses presented, I do assure you, a most lovely appearance. The dinner they gave us was superb" (New York Herald, 6 July 1842, 2).

Occasionally the women made a brief appearance before the meal began and then quickly "retired" as was the case at a dinner held at Piping Tree in King William County, Va., in 1830 (Richmond Whig, 13 July 1830, 2).

Some of the large outdoor gentlemen's celebrations could last for hours, include numerous rounds of toasts, and become a little boisterous. The editors of the Rhode Island Providence Patriot & Columbian Pheonix suggested on July 4, 1828, that public dinners "often" result in "excess, noise, riot and intemperance" and that dinners are not "calculated for social enjoyment." To solve the problem, the newspaper recommended that Independence Day dinners be "eaten at home with a few friends, without a drop of ardent spirits of any kind, but conclude with a temperate use of unadulterated wine."

In Washington, D.C. in 1831, at a dinner for the Association of Mechanics and Other Working Men, 300 to 400 persons were seated at 3 tables, each 160 feet in length, "with seats on each side, extending throughout the whole line, and were covered with plank, except towards the summit, which was covered with canvass" (Daily National Journal, 6 July 1831, 3).

One of the largest dinners to take place prior to the Civil War occurred in 1855 in Dorchester, Mass., where 2,000 persons assembled in a large tent "erected on Meeting House Hill" to dine (Boston Daily Journal, 5 July 1855, 1).

In Smithfield, Va., in 1855, it took an entire day prior to the Fourth to prepare for their town's dinner, which called for a wide assortment of meats and baked goods: Tuesday was a great "preparation day" in Smithfield, Virginia, for the Democratic jubilee and banner presentation was to take place on Wednesday. Chickens and ducks were decapitated by the hundred; fat pigs, lambs and calves, were slaughtered by the dozene, and a number of busy cooks were engaged in preparing immense bacon hams, and large joints and sides of fresh meat, as well as untold quantities of pies, puddings and cakes for the long tables that were spread for the numerous guests expected from Norfolk, Portsmouth, and elsewhere on the glorious Fourth (Daily Southern Argus, 7 July 1855, 2).

America - A Struggle between Aspirations & Realities - July 4th by 19C Presidents

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)    1801-1809

1803- The President holds a reception at the Executive Mansion between the hours of 12 and 2 p.m. for the various heads of departments, foreign ministers, military officers, and others. He also reviews a military parade.

1804- The President hosts a reception with refreshments at the Executive Mansion and reviews a military parade.

1805- The President holds a reception at the Executive Mansion to the sounds of "a powerful band of music, playing patriotic airs at short intervals."

1807- The President "standing in the north portico" of the Executive Mansion reviews a military parade and thereafter receives the officers, and opens the Mansion for guests.

1808- The President hosts a reception at the Executive Mansion and reviews a military parade.
James Madison (1751-1836)    1809-1817

1810- The President attends the ceremony in the Baptist Meeting House in Washington and hears an oration given by Robert Polk there. Following, the President entertains the assemblage at the Executive Mansion.

1811- Madison attends a church on F street, reviews a military parade, and entertains guests in the Executive Mansion.

1812- The President attends a ceremony held in the Capitol and then returns to the Executive Mansion to review a military parade and to entertain guests.

1815- Madison attends a ceremony held at the Capitol and later entertains the assemblage at the Octagon House.
James Monroe (1758-1831)    1817-1825

1817- The White House is not yet ready for receptions, so Monroe, on tour in New England, is in Boston with various government officials and naval commodores and participates in the ceremony there by giving a speech. He visits the ship-of-the-line Independence 74, Fort Warren, and stops off at the Exchange Coffee House.

1819- The President is in Lexington, Kentucky, in the company of General Andrew Jackson, and visiting the Lexington Athenaeum and attending a ceremony at Dunlap's Hotel there.

1824- The President rides in a carriage in a procession to the Capitol, attends a ceremony there, and later holds a reception at the Executive Mansion.
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)    1825-1829

1825- Adams is at the White House where he hears the Marine Band perform; at 10 a.m. he and various Secretaries review several volunteer companies. He then proceeds to the Capitol to hear the Declaration read. Following that, he returns to the White House to receive numerous guests.

1826- The President, accompanied by the Vice President and others, joins a procession that marches to the Capitol and later returns to the Executive Mansion to receive guests.

1828-John Quincy Adams attends ground-breaking ceremony for the excavation of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at Little Falls located just above Georgetown, and gives an address, with music supplied by the U.S. Marine Band.
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)    1829-1837

1829- President Jackson holds a public reception at the White House at 1 p.m. and at 3 p.m. is supposed to participate in a ceremony for the laying of a cornerstone of one of the "Eastern locks of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, near the mouth of Rock Creek," but a driving rain forces the cancellation of the ceremony

1831- Jackson celebrates at Fortress Monroe in Norfolk and turns down an invitation to a public dinner there. Later, he returns to the Executive Mansion in the steamboat Potomac.
Martin Van Buren (1782-1862)    1837-1841

1837- The President reviews a military parade in Washington.

1839- Van Buren is in New York attending an outdoor festival and sabbath school celebration with thousands of children participating.
John Tyler (1790-1862)    1841-1845

1842- The President is in the White House receiving "an unusually large number of citizens. President Tyler, dressed in a full suit of black silk, from the manufactory of Mr. Rapp, of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, received them with his accustomed frank courtesy, and all seemed in the highest spirits." In the morning, the President received the Sunday Schools, listened to two addresses made to him by children, and the "temperance people made a desent upon the White House, too, and the President made a capital speech to them."
James K. Polk (1795-1849)    1845-1849

1846- Polk is at the White House and briefly addresses about 200 young students.

1847- From Polk's Diary: "Spent the day in Portland [Maine] and attended a Unitarian church in the morning, in company with the Hon. John Anderson; and a congregational church in the afternoon, in company with the Mayor."

1848- The President receives guests in the Executive Mansion, attends the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington Monument and then reviews a military parade.
Zachary Taylor (1784-1850)    1849-1850

1849- Taylor receives guests at the White House, including the E Street Baptist School children, and Master R.W. Wilcox.

1850- Taylor attends a ceremony at the Washington Monument, eats a bowl of cherries and milk, gets sick, and dies a few days later.
Millard Fillmore (1800-1874)   1850-1853

1850- Vice-President Fillmore attends a ceremony held at the Washington Monument and takes over as President on July 9, upon the death of Zachary Taylor.

1851- The President has a busy day attenting a ceremony at the Washington Monument in the company of various military officials and other dignitaries, then joins a procession from City Hall to the Capitol, where he ceremonially participates in the laying of the "cornerstone of the new Capitol edifice."
Franklin Pierce (1804-1869)    1853-1857

1854- Pierce is in the Executive Mansion and receives guests, including members of the Western Presbyterian Sabbath School. Pierce later views the fireworks set off on Monument Square.
James Buchanan (1791-1868)    1857-1861

1858- Buchanan is at the White House entertaining guests.
Abraham Lincoln  (1809-1865)   1861-1865

1861- Lincoln reviews 29 New York military regiments in front of the White House and also raises the stars and stripes (the flag presented to the city of Washington by the Union Committee of New York) on a 100-foot high flagstaff located at the south front of the Treasury Department.

1863- The President issues an address to the people honoring the Army of the Potomac and "for the many gallant fallen." There was a ceremony on the grounds of the Executive Mansion. Upon hearing of the news of the surrender of Vicksburg, the President gives a "Fourth of July" speech on July 7 from the upper window of the White House to an "immense" crowd.
Andrew Johnson (1808-1875)    1865-1869

1866- Johnson is at the White House entertaining guests, including members of the Survivors of the Associated Soldiers of the War of 1812.
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)    1869-1877

1870- Grant is on the Presidential train in New England on his way to Woodstock, Conn. He stops in several towns along the way where he is received by cheering crowds. In Woodstock, he participates in that town's celebration and hears speeches by several persons, including one given by Henry Ward Beecher.

1872- Grant is at Long Branch, N.J., amidst a crowd enjoying canons firing, bells ringing, and fireworks going off.

1875- Grant visits Heightstown, N.J., and returns to the "President's Cottage" at Long Branch later that evening.
Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893)    1877-1881

1879- Early on the Fourth, Hayes is on the grounds of Fort Monroe in Virginia with Secretaries of the Treasury, War, Navy, the Attorney-General, and others, and witnesses test firing of bombs and large guns. Later that afternoon, he spends two or three hours on the U.S. steamboat Tallapoosa cruising around in the ocean. The evening is spent viewing fireworks.
James A. Garfield (1831-1881)    1881


Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886)  1881-1885 


Grover Cleveland (1837-1908)    1885-1889 & 1893-1897

1885- In the early evening, he receives a cable dispatch from Cyrus W. Field in London which announces the celebration of the Fourth there. The President ends the evening with a drive around Washington which lasts about two hours.
Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)    1889-1893

1889- Harrison is in Woodstock, Conn., giving a traditional Fourth of July speech

1892- Harrison spends "a very quiet and uneventful day [in Washington]. In the morning he drives to the Monument Grounds with Secretary Halford to witness the celebration there, returning to the Executive Mansion about 11 o'clock.
William McKinley (1843-1901)    1897-1901

1900- McKinley is in Canton, Ohio, reviewing a parade.

For much more about the 4th of July, see;
The Fourth of July Encyclopedia by James R. Heintze (2007)

America - A Struggle between Aspirations & Realities - July 4th in the 18C

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
While John Adams may have chosen the wrong day, he certainly predicted how Americans would come to celebrate the day that the states of the union declared their independence from England. In fact, celebrations of the Declaration of Independence began soon after its signing and long before freedom had been secured.

Christopher Marshall wrote in his diary from Philadelphia on July 6, 1776, "the King's arms there are to be taken down by nine Associators, here appointed, who are to convey it to a pile of casks erected upon the commons, for the purpose of a bonfire, and the arms placed on the top."


On July 8, 1776, Marshall reported that he "went to State House Yard, where, in the presence of a great concourse of people, the Declaration of Independence was read by John Nixon. The company declared their approbation by three repeated huzzas. The King's Arms were taken down in the Court Room, State House same time...Fine starlight, pleasant evening. There were bonfires, ringing bells, with other great demonstrations of joy upon the unanimity and agreement of the declaration."

As the news spread throughout the colonies, other celebrations took place. The Virginia Gazette of July 26, 1776 which was published in Williamsburg reported that most of the townsfolk were joyful on July 25, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was read aloud for all to hear "at the Capitol, the Courthouse, and the Palace, amidst the acclamations of the people." Citizens in Williamsburg celebrated even further with a military parade and the firing of cannon and muskets.
The Gazette also reported that in July of 1776 in Trenton, New Jersey, at a gathering of the militia & citizens: "The declaration, and other proceedings, were received with loud acclamations"

In New York, the "Declaration of Independence was read at the head of each brigade of the continental army posted at and near New York, and every where received with loud huzzas and the utmost demonstrations of joy...the equestrian statue of George III" in New York City was torn down. The Virginia Gazette reported that the lead from the New York monument would be turned into bullets for upcoming battles.
In one short but bloody year, the 4th of July celebration in Philadelphia had grown considerably. A newpaper account described the 1777 event,  "Yesterday the 4th of July, being the Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demon stration 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 of freedom and the righteous cause of their country.  Each toasts 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 Publish
ed in Williamsburg. )

A much less elaborate but heartfelt celebration took place a year later. In the midst of the Revolutionary War on July 4, 1778, at his headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, General George Washington directed his army to put "green boughs" in their hats; issued them a double allowance of rum; and ordered a Fourth of July artillery salute.

Throughout the Revolution, men & women spontaneously celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, before it became an officially sanctioned holiday at the end of the war. In 1781, the Massachusettes Legislature resolved to have the 1st official state celebration of the Fourth.

Boston was the first municipality to designate July 4th as a holiday, in 1783.  In the same year, Alexander Martin of North Carolina was the first governor to issue a state order for celebrating the independence of the country on the Fourth of July.

Other proclamations by governors included Governor William Livingston of New Jersey who declared on July 4, 1787, that "the present day naturally recalls to our minds an event that ought never to be forgotten, and the revival of the military spirit amongst us, affords a happy argument of our determined resolution to maintain under the auspices of heaven, that glorious independence, the anniversary of which it has pleased God to preserve our lives this day to celebrate" (Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser, 14 July 1787)

1776- The Pennsylvania Evening Post is the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence, on 6 July 1776;

The Pennsylvania Gazette publishes the Declaration on 10 July;

The Maryland Gazette publishes the Declaration on 11 July;

The first two public readings of this historic document include one given by John Nixon on 8 July at Independence Square, Philadelphia, and another on the same day in Trenton;

The first public reading in New York is given on 10 July;

The first public readings in Boston and Portsmouth, N.H., take place on 18 July;

Three public readings take place on the same day (25 July) in Williamsburg;

A public reading in Baltimore takes place on 29 July;

in Annapolis on 17 August at a convening of the convention, "unanimous" support of the tenets of the Declaration are expressed

1777- At Portsmouth, N.H., Americans are invited by Captain Thompson to lunch on board a Continental frigate;

In Philadelphia, windows of Quakers' homes are broken because Quakers refuse to close their businesses on holidays that celebrate American military victories;

The first religious sermon about Independence Day is given by Rev. William Gordon in Boston before the General Court of Massachusetts

1778- From his headquarters in New Brunswick, N.J., General George Washington directs his army to put "green boughs" in their hats, issues them a double allowance of rum, and orders a Fourth of July artillery salute;

At Princeton, N.J., an artillery salute is fired from a cannon taken from Burgoyne's army;

In Philadelphia, guns and "sky rockets" are fired, but candles are not used for illuminations due to their scarcity;

At Passy, France, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin host a dinner for "the American Gentlemen and ladies, in and about Paris;"

The first Independence Day oration is given by David Ramsay in Charleston, S.C. before "a Publick Assembly of the Inhabitants;"

On Kaskaskia Island, Ill., George Rogers Clark rings a liberty bell as he and his Revolutionary troops occupy Kaskaskia (under British rule) without firing a shot;

At Mill Prison, near Plymouth, England, Charles Herbert (of Newburyport, Mass.) and other captured American prisoners of war celebrate the Fourth of July by attaching home-made American flags to their hats which they wear the entire day

1779- The Fourth falls for the first time on a Sunday and celebrations take place on the following day, initiating that tradition;

In Boston, continental ships fire a "grand salute" from their cannons;

In Philadelphia, although 14 members of the Continental Congress object to having a celebration, an elegant dinner at the City Tavern, followed by a display of fireworks, is given.

1781- The first official state celebration as recognized under resolve of a legislature occurs in Massachusetts;

At Newport, R.I., the militia hosts French officers at a celebration dinner

1782- At Saratoga, N.Y., the "officers of the Regement" of the Continental Army celebrate with toasts and a "volley of Musquets at the end of each"

1783- Alexander Martin of North Carolina is the first governor to issue a state order (18 June) for celebrating the Fourth and the Moravian community of Salem responds with a special service and Lovefeast;

Boston is the first municipality to designate (by vote on 25 March) July 4 as the official day of celebration;

The governor of South Carolina gives a dinner at the State House in Charleston and at the celebration there, 13 toasts are drank, the last one accompanied by artillery guns firing 13 times and the band playing a dirge lasting 13 minutes

1786- In Beaufort, N.C., the Court House burns down, the result of an errant artillery shell during a celebration there

1787- John Quincy Adams celebrates the Fourth in Boston where he hears an oration delivered at the old brick meeting house and watches no less than 6 independent military companies process

1788- Fourth celebrations first become political as factions fight over the adoption of the Federal Constitution; pro- and anti-Constitution factions clash at Albany, N.Y.;

In Providence, R.I., an unsuccessful attempt is made by 1,000 citizens headed by William Weston judge of the Superior Court, on July 4, to prevent the celebration of the proposed ratification of the Constitution;

In Philadelphia, a "Grand Federal Procession," the largest parade in the U.S. to date, occurs under the planning of Francis Hopkinson;

In Marietta, Ohio, James M. Varnum delivers the first Independence Day oration west of the Alleghany Mountains, in what was then known as the Northwestern territory

1791- The only Fourth of July address ever made by George Washington occurs at Lancaster, Pa.

1792- In Washington, a cornerstone for the "Federal Bridge" is laid by the Commissioners of the Federal Buildings

1794- Forty Revolutionary War soldiers celebrate near Nicholasville, in Jessamine County, Kentucky, at the home of Colonel William Price

1795- A mock battle engagement with infantry, cavalry and artillery units occurs in Alexandria, Va.;

in Boston, the cornerstone for the Massachusetts State House is laid by Paul Revere and Gov. Samuel Adams

1796- In Baltimore, the Republican Society meets at Mr. Evan's Tavern

1798- George Washington attends the celebration in Alexandria, Va., and dines with a large group of citizens and military officers of Fairfax County there; in Portsmouth, N.H., the keel of the 20-gun sloop of war Portsmouth is laid

1799- The "musical drama," The Fourth of July or, Temple of American Independence (music by Victor Pelissier?), is premiered in New York;

George Washington celebrates in Alexandria, Va. by dining with a number of citizens at Kemps Tavern there.

America - A Struggle between Aspirations & Realities - July 4th 1st at the White House

Thomas Jefferson by Charles Peale Polk

The White House Historical Association tells us that although John Adams was the first president to occupy the executive mansion, it was Thomas Jefferson who established the traditions of a July 4th celebration at the White House or President’s House as it was called in his time. Jefferson opened the house and greeted the people along with diplomats, civil and military officers, and Cherokee chiefs in the center of the oval saloon under Gilbert Stuart’s famous portrait of George Washington. Jefferson also added music to the celebration. The Marine Band, already "The President’s Own," played in the Entrance Hall performing "The President’s March" and other "patriotic airs."

The north grounds of the President’s Park—the "common"—came alive at daybreak with the raising of tents and booths, soon followed by crowds of people. A festival took place just for the day. Food and drink and cottage goods of all types were sold. There were horse races and cockfights and parades of the Washington Militia and other military companies. A bare headed Jefferson with his "grey locks waving in the air" watched from the steps of the White House. Then he invited everyone in to partake of his hospitality and his thanksgiving for the preservation of independence.

An Account of July Fourth at the President’s House, 1801, from a letter from Mrs. Smith to her sister Mary Ann Smith: "About 12 o'clock yesterday, the citizens of Washington and Geo. Town waited upon the President to make their devoirs. I accompanied Mr. Sumpter (?). We found about 20 persons present in a room where sat Mr. J. surrounded by the five Cherokee chiefs. After a conversation of a few minutes, he invited his company into the usual dining room, whose four large sideboards were covered with refreshments, such as cakes of various kinds, wine, punch, &c. Every citizen was invited to partake, as his taste dictated, of them, and the invitation was most cheerfully accepted, and the consequent duties discharged with alacrity. The company soon increased to near a hundred, including all the public officers and most of the respectable citizens, and strangers of distinction. Martial music soon announced the approach of the marine corps of Capt. Burrows, who in due military form saluted the President, accompanied by the President's March played by an excellent hand attached to the corps. After undergoing various military evolutions, the company returned to the dining room, and the hand from an adjacent room played a succession of fine patriotic airs. All appeared to be cheerful, all happy. Mr. Jefferson mingled promiscuously with the citizens."

Source: Margaret Bayard Smith, The First Forty Years of Washington Society, ed. Galliard Hunt (New York: Scribner’s, 1906), 30.

America - A Struggle between Aspirations & Realities - July 4th by 18C Presidents

1789- George Washington is in New York and is ill but writes a letter to the New York State's Society of the Cinncinati letting that organization know that he received their congratulations.

1790- Washington is in New York on the Fourth attending services at Trinity Church. (Writings of George Washington, 31:67). However, the actual celebration occurs on the 5th. Together with members of Congress and other officials, Washington attends a celebration held at St. Paul's Chapel. On that day he also receives many guests.

1791- Washington is in Lancaster, Pa. giving an address, dining, and walking "about the town."

1793- Washington is home at Mount Vernon writing a letter to the Secretary of State; on that day he also attends a public celebration in Alexandria, VA

1795- Washington is in Philadelphia

1796- Washington is at Mount Vernon writing letters to the Secretaries of State and Treasury and he also attends a public celebration in Alexandria, VA
1797- John Adams is in Philadelphia where the Society of the Cincinnati and House of Representatives "and a great concorse of citizens" waited on him. "The volunteer corps pertook of a cold collation prepared for them in the President's garden, drank his health with three huzzas, and then filed off thro' the House."

1798- Adams is in Philadelphia reviewing a parade of military companies and later that afternoon receiving and entertaining guests

1799- President Adams is at the Old South Meeting House in Boston listening to an oration presented by John Lowell, Jr.

1800- the President is in Quincy, Massachusetts

America - A Struggle between Aspirations & Realities - Already in battle, Geo Washington reacts to 1776 Declaration Days Later

George Washington (1732-1799) By Charles Willson Peale Dated 1772

By the summer of 1776, American & British forces had been engaged in armed conflict for 15 months. The Declaration came 442 days after the opening shots of the American Revolution at the Battles of Lexington & Concord in Massachusetts. General George Washington was Commander of the Continental Army defending New York City on July 4, 1776; when the Declaration of Independence changed the purpose & nature of that conflict. On the evening of July 9, 1776, thousands of Continental soldiers who had come from Boston to defend New York City from the British marched to the parade grounds in Lower Manhattan. Washington had ordered them to assemble promptly at six o'clock to hear a declaration approved by the Continental Congress calling for American independence from Great Britain. Only 19 years old in the summer of 1776, Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) was a face in the crowd of the Continental Army in New York City, when the Declaration of Independence was drafted, approved, & signed.

Mount Vernon tells us that Washington, like many others in the army, had been waiting for this declaration for some time. He had grown impatient with representatives who hoped for reconciliation with the mother country. To those who believed peace commissioners were on their way to the colonies to effect this reconciliation, Washington responded that the only people heading to the colonies were Hessian mercenaries. Even as his men waited to hear the proclamation read aloud to them, Washington knew that thousands of Hessians & even more redcoats were landing on Staten Island, preparing for an attack on New York.

The Continental Congress had voted for independence on July 2. Two days later on July 4, a declaration explaining the reasons for independence, largely written by Thomas Jefferson, had also been adopted.  Jefferson was credited with writing the first draft, but the "Committee of Five" actually worked on  it, including: Thomas Jefferson(1743-1826), Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Robert Livingston (1746-1813), John Adams (1735-1826) & Roger Sherman (1721-1793).  Washington received official notification when a letter dated July 6 arrived from John Hancock (1737-1793), the president of the Continental Congress, along with a copy of the declaration.

Hancock explained that Congress had struggled with American independence for some time, & even after making this momentous decision many members were worried about its consequences. He concluded that Americans would have to rely on the "Being who controls both Causes & Events to bring about his own determination," a sentiment which Washington shared.  For the commander-in-chief, who needed to lead his untrained army against Great Britain, the decision for independence came as welcome news, especially since his men would now fight not merely in defense of their colonies but for the birth of a new nation.

Washington sent out orders that all the troops should be assembled on their parade grounds at 6pm on July 9th. The parade grounds were on New York's Commons, which is very near today's City Hall. As Washington's soldiers stood ready for the brigadiers & colonels of their regiments to read the Declaration of Independence, they first heard words written by their commander. Washington explained that Congress had "dissolved the connection" between "this country" & Great Britain & declared the "United Colonies of North America" to be "free & independent states."

With hundreds of British naval ships occupying New York Harbor, revolutionary spirit & military tensions were running high. Commander Washington had the document read aloud in front of City Hall. Numerous citizens came out for the reading as well, which sparked a celebration through the streets. Part of the crowd, including many soldiers, rushed to the Bowling Green where a large equestrian statue of King George III stood. Lieutenant Isaac Bangs (1752-1780) wrote a description of the statue in his journal: “Near the Fort, is the Equestrian Statue of King George … The Man is represented about 3 feet larger than a natural Man; the Horse, in proportion, both neatly constructed of Lead gilt with Gold raised on a Pedestal of White Marble, about 15 feet high, enclosed with a very elegant Fence about 10 feet high; the enclosure was oval.” 

The 4,000 pound lead statue was torn down. The iron fence surrounding the Green had posts topped with little crowns, all of which were sawed off as well. The horse statue was cut in pieces. The crowd hacked King George's head off of the statue. After the statue was broken up, Captain Oliver Brown's (1753-1846) troops hoisted the lead pieces, except the head, onto wagons & headed for a schooner which delivered it to the foundry at Litchfield, Connecticut to be melted down & transformed into musket balls. Washington expressed displeasure at the destruction of property, writing in his diary the next day he hoped in the future people would leave this sort of thing "to the proper authorities."  Pulling down a statue of the King was a symbolic gesture indicating that the time had come to change from the rule of a monarchy to the rule of a democracy.

George Washington issued these General Orders, July 9, 1776. "The Hon. The Continental Congress, impelled by the dictates of duty, policy & necessity, having been pleased to dissolve the Connection which subsisted between this Country, & Great Britain, & to declare the United Colonies of North America, free & independent States: The several brigades are to be drawn up this evening on their respective Parades, at Six OClock, when the declaration of Congress, shewing the grounds & reasons of this measure, is to be read with an audible voice. The General hopes this important Event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer, & soldier, to act with Fidelity & Courage, as knowing that now the peace & safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms: And that he is now in the service of a State, possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit, & advance him to the highest Honors of a free Country."

Washington wrote to the  Continental Congress, New York, July 10, 1776. "Sir: I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your two favors of the 4th & 6th instants, which came duly to hand, with their important inclosures. I perceive that Congress have been employed in deliberating on measures of the most interesting Nature. It is certain that it is not with us to determine in many instances what consequences will flow from our Counsels, but yet it behoves us to adopt such, as under the smiles of a Gracious & all kind Providence will be most likely to promote our happiness; I trust the late decisive part they have taken, is calculated for that end, & will secure us that freedom & those priviledges, which have been, & are refused us, contrary to the voice of Nature & the British Constitution. Agreeable to the request of Congress I caused the Declaration to be proclaimed before all the Army under my immediate Command, & have the pleasure to inform them, that the measure seemed to have their most hearty assent; the Expressions & behaviour both of Officers & Men testifying their warmest approbation of it. I have transmitted a Copy to General Ward at Boston, requesting him to have it proclaimed to the Continental Troops in that Department...If our Troops will behave well, which I hope will be the case, having every thing to contend for that Freemen hold dear, they will have to wade thro' much Blood & Slaughter before they can carry any part of our Works, if they carry them at all; & at best be in possession of a Melancholly & Mournfull Victory. May the Sacredness of our cause inspire our Soldiery with Sentiments of Heroism, & lead them to the performance of the noblest Exploits. With this Wish, I have the honor to be, etc."

Washington ordered that all Continental Army soldiers hear the document read, but the reading required sufficient copies to be made & distributed to the headquarters of the various Continental Army commands. Even with dispatch riders, the troops had to wait to celebrate the Declaration until Continental regiments in the faraway south could actually hear the momentous words. The Declaration made it to Captain Joseph Bloomfield (1753-1823) of the 3rd New Jersey Continental Regiment on July 15th. He recorded the orders of the day in his journal, which read: "The Declaration of Independency being read, the whole present signifyed their hearty & sincere Approbation by Three Cheers and cheerfully drinking the following Patriotic Toastes, Harmony, virtue, Honor and all Prosperity to the free and independent United States of America, Wise Legislatures, brave & Victorious Armies, both by Sea & Land to the American States." It took until August 5th, for the text of the Declaration to be read in South Carolina. Henry Drayton (1742-1779), in John Drayton's (1767-1822)Memoirs of the Revolution¸ stated that it was received in Charleston "with the greatest joy" by "all officers civil and military, making a grand procession in honor of the event." 

General Washington believed that the Declaration would serve as a "fresh incentive" for his men to stay committed to the fight against Great Britain. His troops were now fighting for the birth of a new nation. Washington also knew that the only countries with the motivation & the military & naval capabilities to defeat Britain were France & Spain.

While Washington & John Adams & Thomas Jefferson certainly intended to motivate the troops & the early American colonials, they also hoped that the Declaration of Independence would spur the French & Spanish to join the battle. And they did.  Comte of Vergennes (1719-1787), foreign minister of France, directed the resulting European alliance both with America & Spanish minister Conde de Floridablanca (1728-1808). The French admiral the Comte de Grasse (1722-1788) kept the British from reinforcing the usually successful British General Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) in 1781 Virginia. And Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, (1722-1807) commander of all French forces in America during the War for Independence, actively assisted American military leaders & troops. Washington & Rochambeau covered 680 miles of roads with the Continental Army under the command of Washington & the Expédition Particulière under the command of Rochambeau during their 1781 march from Newport, Rhode Island, through New England, Pennsylvania, & Maryland to victory at Yorktown, Virginia.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Biblical Gardens - The Garden of Eden & Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

Illuminated Manuscript, Bible (part), Creation of the world, and Eve, Walters Manuscript W.805, fol. 6v detail
Illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."
Animals & Humans Emerging from the Earth Together; from an illustrated manuscript version of Augustine's City of God, c. 1475 (The Hague, RMMW, 10 A 11, fol. 300v)
Secrets d'histoire naturelle Centre-ouest de la France, vers 1480-1485  Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manuscrits, Français 22971 fol. 15v
Genesis, The Creation of the Animals.  Oxford MS. Douce 135 fol-017v
God Creating the Birds and Animals Vatican Library Collection
French illuminated manuscript, Image du Monde, attributed to Gautier de Metz, portraying God creating animals and birds; Harley 344, folio 1. British Library
 Adam and Eve in The Garden pf Edem Eating the Forbidden Fruit (detail), by Willem Vrelant, early 1460s
The Garden of Eden, Paradise Garden, The Temptation of Adam and Eve (detail) in Concerning the Fates of Illustrious Men and Women, about 1415, Boucicaut Master. J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 63, fol. 3