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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Independence Day in Brattleboro, 1858


A report on plans for Independence Day celebration in Brattleboro of July 3, 1858, written in The Phoenix. (It was celebrated on the 3rd of July back then...)

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"INDEPENDENCE - The celebration on the 3rd by the fire department of Brattleboro and the several companies from abroad will be one of more than ordinary magnificence. The number of firemen who will be present, the reputation of the companies into which they are organized, and the arrangements for the occasion all give evidence of an unusual and unprecedented display. Information has been received by the committee of arrangements of the attendance on Saturday of Companies from Claremont, Keene, and Hinsdale in New Hampshire, from Greenfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield, South Royalston and Baldwinville, in Massachusetts. These with our own excellent companies will make a special pageant.

The day will be ushered in by the ringing of bells and the firing of a national salute of thirty-two guns. Upon the arrival of the trains, about nine o’clock in the morning, the fire department of Brattleboro will meet their friends from abroad. A procession will immediately be formed which will march from the depot grounds through Main street to the Commons; thence through Main street, Canal street to Thomasville, through Elliot, Green, and High streets to Main street again, when the several companies will be dismissed for dinner. At twelve o’clock dinner will be served in the Town Hall, where over five hundred plates will be laid, by W.C. Perry. It is needless to say that part of the entertainment will be all that can be expected. After the repast sentiments, speeches, songs and music will be in order.

The prize playing will commence at 2 o’clock from the cistern on the corner of Elliot and Main streets. The several companies will play through three hundred feet of hose, raising their stream against a pole on Elliot street that is 182 feet six inches in height. If the weather is favorable some good elevations may be confidently expected.

The procession, decorations, playing &c., will form a greater attraction than has ever been witnessed in this region. We shall be surprised if the attendance does not exceed that of any other gathering ever before held in this vicinity.

Special police have been appointed to enforce the village by-laws and preserve peace and order during the day. It is confidently expected that all good citizens will lend their assistance in this desirable work. The reputation of Brattleboro has never suffered on such an occasion; it is hoped that the character of her community in this respect will be fully maintained."

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The firing of a national salute of thirty-two guns

I guess in 1858 our nation had only 32 states to salute for the July 3rd celebration. The issue and importance of what day was the document actually signed had not yet resolved itself to the pre-Lincoln national consciousness, notwithstanding that Jefferson and Adams died just 32 years before on July 4th.

I really enjoy these Grotkesque strolls through General Brattle’s borough history. They are a transport to another time and place far removed from ours, yet not without familiar emphasis on our social strata as when “Special police have been appointed to enforce the village by-laws and preserve peace and order during the day.”

Each year, then as now, holds the promise of past glories overlayed on our ever-present present.

There’s still time to wish, “Happy July 3rd!”

 

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