Monday, November 5, 2012

July 4 Celebration In 1859

A patriotic spirit seemed to pervade the entire community. The arrival of the annual visitor was announced by the cannon’s deafening peal and the ringing of bells. Our hearts leaped with joy when we reflected we were fulfilling the prophecy of one of our revolutionary ancestors who said while urging his countrymen to declare their independence, “This day will be celebrated by our posterity with bonfires and illumination.”

The patriotic lines of Whittier’s …

“Go ring the bells and fire the guns
And fling the stormy banner out
Cry Freedom! Till our little ones
Shout back their tiny shout.”

 This 33-star Flag became the Official United States Flag on July 4th, 1859. A star was added for the admission of Oregon (February 14, 1859) and was to last for 2 years.

At half past ten a procession composed of the citizens, proceeded by martial music, marched to the courthouse. Elder C. B. Hassell offered up a fervent prayer in our behalf as a nation after which the marshal of the day, L. E. Satterwaite, Esq., introduced Theodore Hassell as the reader of the Mecklenburg Declaration.
Mr. Hassell performed his duty in a manner perfectly satisfactory to all.

Reading slowly and distinctly, Dr. Chas. W. Knight was next presented as the person selected to read the National Declaration.
Dr. Thos. C. Pugh arose and after an introduction proceeded to deliver the oration for the day. On taking his seat he was greeted with rounds of applause.

The exercises being over, a procession moved down to Main St. and then dismissed. At night a cotillion party was given at the old hotel.
The amusement was kept up until a late hour when the company, wearied from exertion, dispersed.

[This account is from the newspaper,  Democratic Banner, and describes the 1859 celebration at the Martin County Courthouse in Williamston. The article was first printed in the Tales Along The Roanoke by Louise R. Booker, Illustrated by Bailey Phelps, Edited by Deane R. Phelps: 1974.]