The 4th of July: New Hampshire 238 Years Ago

Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, the United States of America was still in its infancy. Only eleven years prior, on the 4th of July, had the Declaration of Independence been passed.  The American people were generally  appreciative of those who, during the Revolution, had accomplished the seemingly impossible. We were eager to work together to build our fledgling land into a self-sufficient country focused on liberty, equality, and self-governance.

However, as we reflect on our current times, it seems we have strayed from these foundational ideals. Political polarization, social inequality, and a lack of civil discourse often overshadow the unity and common purpose that the signers envisioned. The spirit of collaboration and mutual respect that was crucial to the birth of the nation appears to be waning, replaced by divisiveness and partisanship. To honor the legacy of the Declaration, it is imperative that we recommit to these core values, fostering a society that truly reflects the principles of justice and equality for all.

With this in mind, and with the desire to reignite in all of us that unbounded, hopeful, energetic spirit, I have selected to reprint an article published at a time when we, as a nation, seemed to be pulling together, not apart.  Found in the Freemen’s Oracle newspaper of Exeter, New Hampshire, dated Saturday July 8, 1786. (page 3):

Ink and watercolor on paper. Soldier on horseback. Horizontal rectangle. Titled in ink at top, “A View of a Private in the first / Regt. of N.H. Light-Horse on Duty”. by George Melville, before 1800. New Hampshire Historical Society.

EXETER, July 8, 1786
We hear from Nottingham, that at a meeting of the Society of Cincinnati, the following gentlemen were re-elected for the ensuing year.
His Excellency General Sullivan, President
The Hon. Major General Cilley, V. President
Col. Michael M’Clary, Treasurer
Major Cass, Assistant Treasurer
Jeremiah Fogg, Esq. Secretary

The members of the Society, together with a number of respectable citizens, in token of respect, escort his Excellency into town, and after the duties of the day, and a very agreeable entertainment, re-escorted him towards his seat in Durham.

A New-Haven paper of the 20th ult. has the following paragraph: — A correspondent wishes that as some of the neighbouring States are enacting laws making paper money, &c., a tender for the payment of debts, this State would make Oysters and Clams a tender for all debts contracted for amusement or pleasure.

Last Tuesday being the fourth of July, most of the gentlemen of the town convened at Mr. Lamson’s Assembly-Room, [editor’s note: this is probably Gideon Lamson] in the afternoon, in order to celebrate the day, on which the United-States of America entered the eleventh year of their existence as a free and independent people. The chearfulness [sic] and festivity of the company was a sufficient evidence of the pleasure they enjoyed in the recollection of a transaction, which happily liberated us from our subjection to an oppressive government, and give us rank among the nations of the earth.

About 5 o’clock were drank, under a discharge of artillery, the following toasts and sentiments, viz.
1. The United-States, and their Congress.
2. The President and State of New-Hampshire.
3. The King of France, and our other friends and allies in Europe
4. General WASHINGTON.
5. The American Ambassadors at foreign courts,
6. The memory of those heroes who fell in defence of the liberties of America
7. Agriculture, manufactures, and commerce
8. Competent powers to Congress, and patriotism to the people.
9. May the public credit of America be speedily restored, and firmly established
10. May the justice of America ever preserve her from deserving, and her resources, from fearing an enemy.
11. A permanent union among ourselves, and friendship with all the world.
12. Peace, freedom, and happiness to all mankind.
13. May the fourth of July ever be a day of rejoicing to the sons [and daughters] of freedom.

The fourth and thirteenth toasts were accompanied with three hearty cheers, which were repeated by a large number of people collected near the artillery. Animated by the occasion on which they were convened, and by the found of the cannon, which are no longer used among us as instruments of slaughter, the flame of patriotism, catching from breast to breast, spread through the company, and glowed with its original lustre.

At seven o’clock the company partook of a decent cold collation; and at sunset the customary salute was fired. This was repeated at nine o’clock; which closed the public demonstrations of joy. Every thing being conducted with decency and propriety, the afternoon and evening were spent very agreeably. At a seasonable hour, the company retired, highly pleased with the manner in which they had commemorated an event of so much importance to the cause of freedom, and the interests of humanity.


New Hampshire Tidbits: A 1944 “Sour Grapes” Party on the 4th of July

New Hampshire’s 4th of July: Freedom to those who have virtue to defend it

New Hampshire: Facts and Myths of July 4th

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