Wednesday, July 11, 2018

American Colonial Era Artists & Society Look At Older Women

1730-40 Artist: John Smibert 1688-1751. Subject: Sarah Middlecott 1678-1764 (Mrs. Louis Boucher). Henry Francis duPont Winterthur Museum. Mr. Louis Boucher, who had been born in France, was lost at sea in 1715. They had been married in 1702, in Boston by Cotton Mather.


An essay aimed at older women trying to look and act like their younger counterparts, "Search After an Old Man" appeared in The Lady’s Magazine and Repository of Entertaining Knowledge published in Philadelphia, in 1792.

The time…is past when nature has attractions for love; and wisdom and discretion ought to supply the place of personal Beauty. They ought to be counsellors to the young, and not imitators of folly; they ought now to use that experience which they have acquired, to teach the young to avoid the errors into which themselves may have fallen, by an overweening attention to external ornament, and being more desirous to catch men, than to attract minds.

This view that women should be high-minded & virtuous heightened after the Revolution. In the new Republic, many believed that natural feminine virtues of humility & sensibility made women more religious & thereby, the perfect guardians for the nation's moral integrity.

It soon became expected that American women would instill traditional values in their children while protecting them in a refuge removed from the temptations of the outside world. American men would use their rational minds to make farms & businesses & government flourish. Little girls would be taught the domestic arts; little boys would be taught classical critical thinking.

Older women, who no longer had young children & could offer little help with household chores, were expected to be the ultimate repositories of conservative feminine virtues.
new nation. 1771-76 Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Mrs Benjamin Simons. Metropolitan Museum of Art
1790 Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Mrs Nathaniel Taylor. Newark Museum.


1791 Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Mrs. John Watson. Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute of Art.

1792 Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Mrs. Richard Alsop. National Museum of American Art.
1796 Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Sarah Bostwick (Mrs. Sherman Boardman) New Milford Historical Society, Connecticut.


1798 Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). Anna de Peyster. San Antonio Museum of Art..

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) - Mrs. John Adams, Disagrees with George Washington's Ownership of Slaves

Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818), Mrs. John Adams, by Gilbert Stuart, ca. 1800-1815. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

By Elizabeth Bissell Miller, “Abigail Adams,”
The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington

George Washington owned slaves from an early age, & held conflicting views about the institution of slavery throughout his life. Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818), Mrs. John Adams, was impressed with Washington in general, but spoke of her disagreement with his position as a slaveholder.

Throughout her life, Abigail Adams held steadfast to core principles: she was a humanitarian, activist, & leader with an acute sense of both America's successes & failures. Adams advocated for gender equality in public education & the need to pay attention to the social, political, & educational needs of women. She also firmly believed in the necessity for the emancipation of African Americans from slavery &, like her husband, firmly believed in dissolving the political union with Great Britain. In one final act of rebellion, Adams, a married woman whose property was controlled by her living husband, wrote a will & left the majority of her possessions to her female kin.

Frequently forsaking private joy for the greater public good, Adams voiced her views not only in quasi-political situations—such as during her appointment to the Massachusetts Colony General Court in 1775—but also to her husband during his numerous domestic & overseas diplomatic missions. It was in her role as unofficial advisor that she made her greatest contributions to the early American nation. It is believed that Abigail & John Adams exchanged more than 1,100 letters on topics ranging from government & politics to women's rights. Her firm views on American independence were succinctly expressed in a 1775 letter, explaining: "Let us separate, they are unworthy to be our Brethren. Let us renounce them..."
1792 George Washington before the Battle of Trenton by John Trumbull (1756-1843)

Abigail Adams first met George Washington shortly after he took command of the Continental Army. Adams had initial hesitations regarding Washington as a slaveholder & member of the Virginia planter elite. However, after meeting, Adams wrote her husband that she was "struck with General Washington," & that his appointment was received with "universal satisfaction." Adams further explained that Washington was marked by "Dignity with ease. . .the Gentleman & Soldier look agreeably blended in him."

An ardent advocate for the cause of American liberty, Adams was uniquely able to express herself with eloquence at a time when women received little formal instruction. In a series of letters written beginning in 1776, Adams boldly argued for women’s rights. After learning that her husband would serve on the committee that would draft the Declaration of Independence, Adams admonished him to: "Remember the Ladies..." Although John Adams did not follow his wife's advice, ultimately his political agenda was shaped as much by his own opinions as by his valuable discourse with Abigail.

Abigail was John's all-encompassing aide-de-camp, chief of staff, & brain trust. However, her influence was not appreciated by all, particularly those who scathingly called her "Mrs. President." Abigail accompanied John to his diplomatic post in Paris in 1784. In 1785, she carefully handled the complex role of wife of the first United States Minister to Great Britain. And later she was wife of the first U.S. Vice President, & wife of the second U.S. President, serving as First Lady from March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801.

A granddaughter of pre-revolutionary era politician John Quincy, & the daughter of a Congregationalist minister, Abigail married John Adams in October 1764 at the age of nineteen. Abigail's lifelong enjoyment of philosophy, theology, ancient history, government, & law, which was championed by her grandmother & other relatives, helped both Abigail & the young American nation chart a new course. Abigail played a vital role in America until her passing in 1818. She advocated for women's education, women's social & political needs, & the abolition of slavery.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Notes of President John Adams on the Slavery of Men & Women

President John Adams

John Adams did not own slaves.

1776: John Adams discussed trade resolutions before the continental congress: "There is one Resolution I will not omit. Resolved that no Slaves be imported into any of the thirteen colonies." (Peabody, p 197)

1776: John Adams was delighted with Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence and its “flights of oratory... especially that concerning Negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly would never oppose.” (Peabody, p 201)

1819: “Negro Slavery is an evil of colossal magnitude.” (Ellis, p 140)

1820: “I shudder when I think of the calamities which slavery is likely to produce in this country. You would think me mad if I were to describe my anticipations…If the gangrene is not stopped I can see nothing but insurrection of the blacks against the whites.”(Smith, p 138)

1821: “Slavery in this Country I have seen hanging over it like a black cloud for half a century…”(Ellis, p 138)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Women, Tea Parties, & the American Revolution

Philip Dawes, A Society of Patriotic Ladies at Edenton in North Carolina. Published in London in 1775.

The Boston tea party occurred in December 1773, when angry gentlemen of Boston, some costumed as Native Americans, destroyed property of the East India Tea Company on ships in the Boston harbor in protest of British taxation & trade policies.  There were other 18C colonial patriotic tea parties as well.

The livid English Parliament quickly passed a set of laws to punish the upstart colonials in Massachusetts, closing the Boston port & limiting all British American colonial rights to self-government. Many American colonists up & down the Atlantic called these the Intolerable Acts” — the final proof that Great Britain intended to destroy their liberty.
W. D. Cooper.Boston Tea Party, The History of North America. London E. Newberry, 1789.

After the Boston tea party, gentlemen began meeting in local groups throughout the colonies to lend their support to the rising talk of revolution. (Mostly men were meeting, because women did not vote or hold office in the 18C Britain or her colonies.)

In July 1774, gentlemen of the Cape Fear region, led by transplanted Boston attorney William Hooper (1742-1790), met at Wilmington, North Carolina, calling for a provincial congress & for a congress of all the colonies to respond to Britain. One of the resolutions passed at this meeting stated, "That we will not use nor suffer East India Tea to be used in our Families after the tenth day of September next, and that we will consider all persons in this province not complying with this resolve to be enemies to their Country."

The Edenton Tea Party first became known throughout colonial British America from a London newspaper article reporting the event, which appeared in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser in January of 1775.  The newspaper reported that in North Carolina on October 25, 1774, 51 prominent women from the Edenton area gathered at the home of Elizabeth King, with Penelope Barker (1728-1796) presiding, to sign a petition supporting the American cause. It was extremely rare, if not unheard of, for British women, especially colonial women, who had no legal powers, to petition for political change.

At the meeting, Barker reportedly said, “Maybe it has only been men who have protested the king up to now. That only means we women have taken too long to let our voices be heard. We are signing our names to a document, not hiding ourselves behind costumes like the men in Boston did at their tea party. The British will know who we are.”

The Edenton petition doesn’t actually mention tea, but it supports the July Wilmington “resolves” against importing British products such as clothing & tea. Many angry colonists participated in the resistance to Britain through nonimportation, simply refusing to buy goods imported from Britain. Colonials did not have to pay taxes on goods they did not purchase, and the loss of income might persuade British merchants & shippers to support the colonial cause.

The text of the petition by the women gathered in Edenton, North Carolina, on October 25, 1774, reads: As we cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country,
and as it has been thought necessary, for the public good, to enter into several political resolves by a meeting of Members deputed from the whole Province,
it is a duty which we owe, not only to our near and dear connections who have concurred in them, but to ourselves who are essentially interested in their welfare, to do every thing as far as lies in our power to testify our sincere adherence to the same;
and we do therefore accordingly subscribe this paper, as a witness of our fixed intention and solemn determination to do so.


Abagail Charlton, Mary Blount, F. Johnstone, Elizabeth Creacy, Margaret Cathcart, Elizabeth Patterson, Anne Johnstone, Jane Wellwood, Margaret Pearson, Mary Woolard, Penelope Dawson, Sarah Beasley, Jean Blair, Susannah Vail, Grace Clayton, Elizabeth Vail, Frances Hall, Elizabeth Vail, Mary Jones, Mary Creacy, Anne Hall, Mary Creacy, Rebecca Bondfield, Ruth Benbury, Sarah Littlejohn, Sarah Howcott, Penelope Barker, Sarah Hoskins, Elizabeth P. Ormond, Mary Littledle, M. Payne, Sarah Valentine, Elizabeth Johnston, Elizabeth Cricket, Mary Bonner, Elizabeth Green, Lydia Bonner, Mary Ramsay, Sarah Howe, Anne Horniblow, Lydia Bennet, Mary Hunter, Marion Wells, Tresia Cunningham, Anne Anderson, Elizabeth Roberts, Sarah Mathews, Elizabeth Roberts, Anne Haughton, Elizabeth Roberts, Elizabeth Beasly.

From England, in January 1775, 16 year-old Arthur Iredell wrote to his older brother who was a judge based in Edenton, James Iredell (1751-1799), describing the British reaction to the Edenton Tea Party. According to Arthur Iredell, the incident was not taken seriously in England, because it was led by women.

British journalists & cartoonists depicted the women in a negative light, as bad mothers & loose women. In a satirical cartoon published in London in March of 1775, the North Carolina ladies were drawn as female versions of the much maligned macaroni characters of the period.

Arthur Iredell sarcastically wrote to his brother James, who would later become one of the first associates of the United States Supreme Court, back in North Carolina, I see by the newspapers the Edenton ladies have signalized themselves by their protest against tea-drinking. The name of Johnston [the maiden name of Mrs. James Iredell] I see among others; are any of my sisters relations patriotic heroines?
Is there a female congress at Edenton, too? I hope not, for we Englishmen are afraid of the male congress, but if the ladies, who have ever since the Amazonian era been esteemed the most formidable enemies: if they, I say, should attack us, the most fatal consequence is to be dreaded.
So dextrous in the handling of a dart, each wound they give is mortal: whilst we, so unhappily formed by nature, the more we strive to conquer them, the more we are conquered.
The Edenton ladies, conscious, I suppose, of this superiority on their side, by a former experience, are willing, I imagine, to crush us into atoms by their omnipotency: the only security on our side to prevent the impending ruin, that I can perceive, is the probability that there are but few places in America which possess so much female artillery as Edenton.


Perhaps because of her husband James Iredell's official position, Hannah Johnston Iredell refrained from signing resolutions supporting the First North Carolina Provincial Congress, which voted to boycott certain British products. However, Hannah's sisters & her sisters-in-law signed the petition.

Not about to be outdone by their neighbors & not at all deterred by the sarcastic English press, the patriotic ladies of Wilmington, North Carolina, held their own “party” in the spring of 1775, actually burning their tea.

Janet Schaw, a visitor from Scotland who had no sympathy for the colonial rebellion, reported the event in her journals, noting that not everyone in Wilmington approved of the protest: The Ladies have burnt their tea in a solemn procession, but they had delayed however till the sacrifice was not very considerable, as I do not think any one offered above a quarter of a pound. The people in town live decently, and tho’ their houses are not spacious, they are in general very commodious and well furnished.
All the Merchants of any note are British and Irish,and many of them very genteel people. They all disapprove of the present proceedings. Many of them intend quitting the country as fast as their affairs will permit them, but are yet uncertain what steps to take.


But the women patriots had just begun to fight. Purdie's Virginia Gazette reported on May 3, 1775, that women were giving their jewelery to support the Continental Congress like “Roman Females” before them and will “fearless take the field against the ememy” for their glorious cause if their services are needed.

Women began to write letters about the revolutionary cause to their local newspapers. One anonymous women wrote a letter urging her fellow women to sacrifice for the war in Dixon's Virginia Gazette of January 13, 1776. Anne Terrel of Bedford County, Virginia also wrote in the same newspaper to support of the Revolutionary War on September 21, 1776.

During the Revolution more than 20,000 women became army camp followers--cooking, laundering, mending, and acting as nurses for the soldiers. Camp followers received half the food ration, when there was food at all, and minimal compensation. When the British occupied a town, they sometimes brutalized colonial women & their children. Hundreds of women took up arms to serve as soldiers & others served as spies for the colonial army.

Even those women left at home to raise the family & manage the business or the farm helped as they could. One woman passing an evacuated house in Woodbridge, New Jersey, looked in the window & saw a drunken Hessian soldier. She went home, got an old firelock, returned to take the Hessian’s firearms & then walked him about a mile to the patrol guard of the New Jersey regiment to delivered her prisoner. The incident was reported in Dixon's Virginia Gazette on April 18, 1777.

As the war progressed, women began collecting & contributing funds to equip local troops, where their kinfolk & neighbors were serving. The light horsemen of General Nelson of the Virginia Cavalry received just such donations according to Purdie's Virginia Gazette of June 12, 1778.

After the successful war, most male landowners could vote in the new republic. Women were granted the right to vote in the United States of America in 1920.

A Brief History of Tea in England & her Colonies leading to American "Tea Parties"

Dirk Stoop (Dutch painter, c 1610-1685) Catherine of Braganza Wife of Charles II c 1661

The first recorded drinking of tea is in China, where the earliest records of tea consumption date back to the 10th century BC. It was a common drink during Qin Dynasty (around 200 BC) & became widely popular during Tang Dynasty, when it was spread to nearby Korea & Japan.
Charles II by Adriaen Hanneman (England, 1603-1671)

Tea, then called cha, was imported to Europe during the Portuguese expansion of the 16th century. Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, wife of England's Charles II, took the tea habit to the court of Great Britain around 1660.
Joseph Van Aken  (Antwerp-born British painter, c.1699‑1749) A Tea Party 1719-1721.

London coffee houses also were responsible for introducing tea to everyday England. One of the 1st coffee house merchants to offer tea was Thomas Garway, who owned an establishment in Exchange Alley in London. He sold both prepared & dry tea to the public as early as 1657.
Attributed to Johann Zoffany (German-born British painter, 1733-1810), A Family of Three at Tea, 1727

Three years later he issued a broadsheet advertising tea at £6 and £10 per pound touting its virtues at "making the body active and lusty" & "preserving perfect health until extreme old age."
Charles Philips (British artist,  1703–1747) Tea Party at Lord Harrington's House, St James detail 1730

Tea was an expensive commodity, as were all the items related to its consumption: the tea table, silver, and porcelain. Tea was normally kept locked by the lady of the household. 
Charles Philips (British artist,  1703–1747) The Strong Family detail

Portraits of families at tea demonstrated their wealth, domesticity, and genteel informality.  Tea-drinking came to epitomise civilized behavior in the eighteenth century.
Man and Child Drinking Tea, circa 1720  Artist unknown, England

Tea gained popularity quickly in England's coffee houses, & by 1700, over 500 coffee houses sold it.
Charles Philips (British artist,  1703–1747) The Cromwell and Thornhill Families Taking Tea detail 1730

The rise in popularity of tea drinking distressed the British tavern owners, as tea cut their sales of ale & gin, & it was bad news for the government, who depended upon a steady stream of revenue from taxes on liquor sales.
Joseph Van Aken  (Antwerp-born British painter, c.1699‑1749) An English Family at Tea 1725

As the century progressed, the use of enslaved labor increased the production of tea and sugar to such an extent that it became available to all classes in society. 
Detail The Wollaston Family, William Hogarth, 1730

By 1750, tea had become the favored drink of Britain's lower classes, as well as the wealthy.
A British Family Served with Tea 1745 Unknown

Charles II tried to counter the loss of tax income from spirits arising from the growth of tea, with several acts forbidding its sale in private houses. This measure was designed to counter sedition; but it was so unpopular, that it was impossible to enforce.
Philip Reinagle (British painter, 1749-1833) A Lady and Two Gentlemen seated at a tea table

A 1676 act taxed tea & required coffee house operators to apply for a license.  Failing to curb the popularity of tea, the British government decided to profit from tea.
Gawen Hamilton (British artist, 1692-1737) An elegant family at tea

By the mid 18th-century, the duty on tea had reached an absurd 119%. This heavy taxation had the effect of creating a whole new industry - tea smuggling.
Unknown 18th-Century British Artist, A Tea Party

Ships from Holland & Scandinavia brought tea to the British coast, then stood offshore, while smugglers met them unloading their precious cargo in small vessels. The smugglers, often local fishermen, snuck the tea inland through underground passages & hidden paths to special hiding places. One of the favorite hiding places was in the local parish church.
Joseph Van Aken  (Antwerp-born British painter, c.1699‑1749) An English Family at Tea detail 1720

Even smuggled tea remained expensive for the common man; however, and therefore extremely profitable. Many smugglers began to adulterate the tea with other substances, such as willow, licorice, & sloe leaves. Used tea leaves were also redried & added to fresh leaves.
Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789) Still Life Tea Set, 1781-83

During the 18th century, tea drinking was as popular in Britain’s American colonies as it was in Britain itself. Legally, all tea imported into America had to be shipped from Britain, & all tea imported into Britain had to be shipped in by the East India Company. 
Francis Hayman (1708-1776), Jonathan Tyers and his family, 1740

However, for most of the 18th century, the East India Company was not allowed to export directly to America. But during the 1770s, the East India Company ran into financial problems: illegal tea smuggling into Britain was vastly reducing the amount of tea being bought from the Company.
Ladies Having Tea c 1740 Unknown British artist

Smuggling led to a downturn in its profits, as well as an increase in its stockpile of unsold tea. In an attempt to revive its flagging fortunes & avoid bankruptcy, the Company asked the British government for permission to export tea directly to America, a move that would enable it to get rid of its surplus stock of tea. The Company actually owed the government £1 million, so the government had no desire to let the Company go bankrupt.
Johann Zoffany (German-born painter, 1733-1810) John, Lord Willoughby de Broke, and his Family.  c 1766

Thus in 1773, the Tea Act was passed, granting the Company’s wish, and allowing a duty of 3d per lb to be levied on the exports to America. The Tea Act, passed by Parliament on May 10, 1773, would launch the final spark to the revolutionary movement in Boston. The act was not intended to raise revenue in the American colonies, & imposed no new taxes. It was designed to prop up the East India Company which was floundering financially & burdened with 18 million pounds of unsold tea. This tea was to be shipped directly to the colonies, and sold at a bargain price. 
Francis Hayman (1708-1776), The Gasciogne Family

The Townshend Duties were still in place, however, & the radical leaders in America found reason to believe that this act was a maneuver to buy popular support for the taxes already in force. The direct sale of tea, via British agents, would also have undercut the business of local merchants.The colonials were growing increasingly resentful of "taxation without representation."
Drinking tea in the British American colonies, the John Potter Overmantle at the Newport Historical Society in Rhode Island

The British government did not anticipate this being a problem for the colonials. By being exported directly to America, the cost of tea there would actually become cheaper, & 3d per lb was considerably less duty than was paid on tea destined for the British market. But it had underestimated the strength of the American resistance to being taxed at all by Britain. The issue of the taxation in America had been hotly debated for some years.
Drinking tea in the British American colonies, Gansevoort Limner, possibly Pieter Vanderlyn 1687-1778 Susanna Truax.

Many Americans objected on principle to being taxed by a Parliament which did not represent them. Instead, they wanted to raise taxes themselves to fund their own administration. But successive British governments reserved the right to tax the colonies, & various bungled attempts to impose taxation had hardened American opposition. In the later 1760s, opposition took the form of boycotts of taxed goods. As a replacement for them, the Americans either bought smuggled goods or attempted to find substitutes for tea made from native products.
Gawen Hamilton (British Painter, ca.1698-1737) The Sharpe Family Maryland State Archives

Colonists in Philadelphia & New York turned the tea ships back to Britain. In Charleston, the cargo was left to rot on the docks. In Boston the Royal Governor was stubborn & held the ships in port, where the colonists would not allow them to unload. Cargoes of tea filled the harbor, & the British ship's crews were stalled in Boston looking for work & often finding trouble. This situation lead to the Boston Tea Party.

Ordinarily conservative shippers & shopkeepers were directly impacted by the new law & were vocal in their opposition. Previously, American ships brought much of the tea from England, but that trade was now reserved for the East India Company. The shop owners objected to the new practice of using only selected merchants to sell the tea; many would be excluded from this trade in favor of a new monopoly.  The radical patriots found allies in the formerly conservative business community.

Ladies of the gentry class in colonial America did not have the opportunity to attend public meetings, debate, vote, or have a real voice in democracy. Some women, such as Mrs. Charles Carroll & Mrs. William Paca of Annapolis, supported the patriotic cause in other ways. During the years of the American Revolution, these women grew a variety of herbs that replaced English teas. These included varieties of mint, chamomile, rosemary, lemon balm, and valerian root.

Rather than pay tea taxes, even before the Revolution, colonials were looking for tea alternatives, An article in the November 21st, 1768 Boston Gazette advised,  "Tea made from a plant or shrub (Ceanothus americanus) grown in Pearsontown about 20 miles from Portland, Maine, was served to a circle of ladies and gentlemen in Newbury Port, who pronounced it nearly, if not quite, its equal in flavor to genuine Bohea [one of three Chinese black teas tossed overboard later in 1773]. So important a discovery claims attention, especially at this crisis. If we have the plant, nothing is wanted but the process of curing it into tea of our own manufacture."

In 1774, Manasseh Cutler wrote of the Liberty Tea called the New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus Americanus) "The leaves of this shrub have been much used by the common people, in some parts of the country, in the room of India tea; and is, perhaps, the best substitute the country affords. They immerse the fresh leaves in a boiling decoction of the leaves and branches of the same shrub, and then dry them with a gentle heat. The tea, when the leaves are cured in this way, has an agreeable taste, and leaves a roughness on the tongue somewhat resembling that of the bohea tea."

Finally at the end of the resulting war with America, in 1784, William Pitt the Younger introduced the Commutation Act, which dropped the tax on tea from 119% to 12.5%, effectively ending smuggling. And tea did return to the New Republic of the United States of America.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

How 18C Presidents celebrated the 4th of July while in Office

George Washington

1789- 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
John Adams

1797- 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

For much, much more on July 4th celebrations, see:
The Fourth of July Encyclopedia by James R. Heintze (2007)
Music of the Fourth of July: A Year-by-year Chronicle of Performances and Works Composed for the Occasion, by James R. Heintze (2009)

Depictions of Lady Liberty in the 18C Early Republic

For the first 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Indpendence on the 4th of July, American women would present their appreciation of the nation's hard-won liberty as handiwork in the form of banners, flags, or standards to groups of soldiers of the United States military. These Independence Day presentation ceremony would allow the women to speak about what the new nation & its defenders meant to them, even though they would not be allowed to vote until 1920.  These female orators could be viewed as the embodiment of Lady Liberty herself.

Symbols, like those of Lady Liberty illustrated here, are visual shorthand. The English and the colonists had begun depicting America as a lady even before the American Revolution. Americans in the 18th & 19th centuries invented or adopted emblems (images accompanied by a motto either understood or written) and personifications (usually historical allegorical figures) to express their political needs & beliefs.

In the 18C, European and American artists used the images of Native American women as allegorical representations of the American continent, the American colonies, and the United States of America.  These fanciful images had changed in form and substance during their several hundred of years of use.  First depicted as an "Indian queen" in printed engravings, tapestries, and sculptures, this representation of a native woman carried implements of war and postured near severed heads and exotic plants and animals.  These images reflected European reactions to the "new world," which they perceived as a foreign and hostile environment.  As European exploration progressed, artists began to depict an opulent, heavyset Indian queen sitting or standing among the abundant natural resources of the Americas. 

From 1755 to the War of Independence, an Indian princess replaced the queen as a symbol of America.  The younger, thinner, less warlike princess became a representation of the American colonies, distinct from Great Britain.  A feathered headdress and skirt became her customary dress and her complexion became lighter.  This new allegorical native woman adorned political and non-political prints, serial publications, map cartouches, figurines, medals, and other objects.  She most frequently appeared in images pertaining to British-colonial relations, the American pursuit of liberty, and issues of commerce and trade.  Following the Revolutionary War, Columbia and neo-Classical female figures gradually replaced the Indian princess as the symbol of America.

These symbols were propaganda tools to draw together the country's diverse peoples, who spoke many languages, in order to promote national political union & purpose. Lady Liberty evolved throughout the decades of the early republic to meet the propaganda needs of the current situation.
This 18C Early Republic Lady Liberty freeing a bird from its cage, giving political liberty to the new United States from Britain, while holding a liberty cap hung on a pole. Lady Liberty was almost always depicted in a classical costume. Before the Roman Empire, similar felt caps were worn by liberated slaves from Troy & Asia Minor to cover their previously shorn heads, until their hair grew back. Here the cap symbolized a more intimate emancipation from personal servitude as a subject of the British Empire rather than united, national liberty. The caps were sometimes referred in Latin as pilleus liberatis. In classical literature, the cap atop a pole was a symbol of freedom evolving from the period when Salturnius conquered Rome in 263 BC; and he raised the cap on a pikestaff to show that he would free the slaves who fought with him. The cap was such a popular symbol that it was also depicted on some early US coins.
Lady Liberty is holding a musket & powder horn, ready to fight for freedom. 1779 Broadside. New York Historical Society. SY1779 No. 2.

Venerate the Plough, 1786, etching Columbian Magazine

1790 Design on an American Coverlet Winterthur Museum

1792 Genius of Lady's Magazine kneels before Columbia (Lady Liberty) with a petition for the rights of women. Lady's Magazine. Library Company of Philadelphia

Edward Savage Liberty in the Form of the Goddess of Youth Giving Support to the Bald Eagle, 1796

Liberty in the Form of the Goddess inspired by Edward Savage's print in Embroidery by a young woman.

Abijah Canfield Liberty in the Form of the Goddess of Youth Giving Support to the Bald Eagle, a painting after Edward Savage. 1800

Enoch Gridley Pater Patriae Memorial for George Washington with Lady Liberty at the base holding a spear and a sword as she weeps. 1800

Lady Liberty 1800 Brown University

18C The earliest 4th July Celebrations 1776-1800

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.

For much, much more on July 4th celebrations, see:
The Fourth of July Encyclopedia by James R. Heintze (2007)
Music of the Fourth of July: A Year-by-year Chronicle of Performances and Works Composed for the Occasion, by James R. Heintze (2009)