We know from an article which appeared in The Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 5, 1777, that the first Independence Day anniversary was celebrated with the discharge of thirteen cannons in the port of Philadelphia in honor of the original thirteen states. The ships were decorated in red, white and blue streamers. Congress gathered for an elegant dinner to which the president and numerous other guests of honor were invited.
A captured band of Hessian musicians played suitable tunes interrupted by repeated toasts. Bonfires and fireworks lit up the evening sky, and the peals of bells closed out the day.
Not much has changed since then. Food, fireworks, parades and the national colors are still at the center of today’s celebrations, and the Glorious Fourth continues to capture the national imagination. The Library has a wealth of information in both print and electronic form for those who would like to learn more about the history of the Declaration of Independence.
On our shelves:
Andrew Burnstein’s America’s Jubilee takes a critical look at the fifty year anniversary of independence in 1826, which also happens to be the day on which two of the Declaration’s signers, frenemies John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, died. William Hogeland takes a close look at the nine weeks leading up to July 4, 1776, in his Declaration, and Alan Dershowitz follows the sources which influenced Jefferson’s text in America Declares Independence.
David Armitage’s The Declaration of Independence: A Global History delineates the impact of the U.S. Declaration as it resonated around the world. Armitage looks at over one hundred declarations of independence to demonstrate the global influence of the U.S. Declaration, and Alexander Tsesis’ For Liberty and Equality synthesizes the continuing impact of the Declaration on American life.
Noteworthy among Falvey’s digital primary-source collections are the American Founding Era collection which contains the papers of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James and Dolley Madison, and Alexander Hamilton; the American State Papers with the executive and legislative documents of the first fourteen U.S. Congresses; and America’s Historical Newspapers, which includes early American newspapers back to 1690.
Happy Independence Day from the staff at Falvey Memorial Library!