Saturday, July 4, 2020

America - A Struggle between Aspirations & Realities - July 4th as the 19C USA grows

This chronology offers a glimpse at how the 4th of July was celebrated 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."
John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Fourth of July in Centre Square Philadelphia, 1812

1814- The Fourth is celebrated in Honolulu, Hawaii, with a dinner, and artillery salutes are fired from ships in the harbor there.

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.
John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) 4th of July 1819 in Philadelphia 

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.
4th of July parade at the turn of the century in Indiana
Uncle Sam

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

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.