The Southern Historical Collection would like to wish you a very happy Independence Day! We may think of Fourth of July celebrations that include fireworks and barbecues, but this may not have been how we historically celebrated the nation’s founding.
In a letter dated 10th of July 1858, Joseph Nathaniel Allen described the Independence Day celebration in his hometown in North Carolina. He explained that there were large crowds of people, and a traveling band. The highlight of the day for him involved a reading of the Declaration of Independence, though he complained of people being too noisy for him to hear properly and lamented his ignorance about the contents of the document.
The Southern Historical Collection also has preserved records from one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. William Hooper helped found the government of North Carolina during the Revolution, and was elected to the First and Second Continental Congresses. He split his time between North Carolina and Philadelphia, and both of his family homes, in Finian and Wilmington, were captured by the British. The collection here includes documents from North Carolina’s revolutionary government, and a biographical sketch completed by his nephew.
This isn’t all we have on the American Revolution of course, but is a small sample related to the history of the holiday as we know it today.