SOLUTION: HIST 2010 MTSU July Fourth Celebrations History and Changes Capstone

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Nineteenth-Century Fourth of July Observations
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CAPSTONE
For six months in 1876, the United States gave itself a birthday party in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.
Officially called the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine, this
celebration was more popularly known as the Centennial Exposition, and by the time it was over, more
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The Centennial Exposition celebrated the one hundredth anniversary
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manufacturing, mining, and metallurgy. Machinery Hall displayed the latest technological advances in
than ten million people had passed through its gates. Previous international exhibitions had been held in
steam engines, locomotives, and other heavy industrial equipment. The Horticultural Hall showcased the
natural bounty and agriculture of the United States. Memorial Hall housed exhibits on the fine arts. The
Women’s Pavilion, the first of its kind at such international expositions, was dedicated to manufactures,
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Bartholdi’s Liberty Enlightening the World, which
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a er its completion in 1886.
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Figure 1. Colossal Hand and Torch: “Liberty” Visitors to the 1876 Centennial Exposition saw for the first time
what was destined to become an icon of American freedom, the torch held by the Statue of Liberty. The statue
was not completed for another ten years.
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The United States may have been coming together in Philadelphia in 1876, but everywhere else it seemed
Of all the exposition’s exhibits, one in particular — the Corliss Engine in Machinery Hall — symbolized the
to be coming apart. Nearing the end of his two terms in office, Grant was a lame-duck president whose
administration had been mired in serial corruption scandals. Since 1870, the Republican Party’s support for
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African Americans faced a growing tide of discrimination, disenfranchisement,
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In the nation’s cities, industrialization was not
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bankruptcies in the banking and railroad industries, reverberated throughout
leading to
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unemployment and labor unrest. Striking workers were
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forces. Mobs attacked immigrants, whomy
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black equality in the former Confederate states had waned, and without federal support or protection,
communism, socialism, and Catholicism. Violence was also endemic on the frontier, where the U.S. Army
was fighting a scorched-earth campaign against the Indian peoples of the Great Plains. Just days before the
Fourth of July celebrations in 1876, General George Armstrong Custer blundered badly by attacking Sioux,
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Not surprisingly, the Fourth of July in 1876 found many
Americans
in less than celebratory moods. William
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Lloyd Garrison, a towering figureeinfa
us thejl struggle for racial equality since the 1830s, published an essay
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titled “Centennial Reflections” that chastised his fellow citizens for their superficial approach to this
Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors encamped on the Little Bighorn River in Montana. The vainglorious
historic occasion. “Our national career, from 1776 to the present Centennial period calls for deep
humiliation before God,” he wrote, “and penitent confession that we have been guilty of dissimulation,
perfidy, and oppression on a frightful scale.” Slavery, Indian removal, wars of conquest against Mexico and
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repeatedly violated its founding ideals. Susan B. Anthony,
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unfinished business. A leading figure in the National
Association, Anthony had requested
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that her organization be included in the speakers program
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When the event’s sponsors denied her
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yourequest,
Native Americans, the abandonment of Reconstruction: all were evidence that the United States had
commandeered a musicians’ platform outside Independence Hall to read to the crowd their “Declaration of
Rights for Women,” which included “articles of impeachment” against “our rulers” for denying female
citizens their most basic civil rights and liberties.
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has existed. Much about the way we mark it has remained
over the years. Since the eighteenth
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over great distances, celebrating the Fourth
yoofuJuly
The Fourth of July has been a day of celebration on the American calendar for as long as the United States
their citizenship and claimed their right to enjoy its benefits. Patriotic rites of celebration also helped unite
Americans across political, ethnic, racial, class, and religious lines.
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have always contested its meaning. Sources
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you observations of the Fourth tell us not only about the history of a holiday,
that show us nineteenth-century
Like William Lloyd Garrison and Susan B. Anthony in 1876, however, many nineteenth-century Americans
but also about how Americans struggled to define themselves as a nation and as a people over a long and
tumultuous century.
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Using Multiple Source Types on Fourth of July
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than recycled platitudes about the genius of the Founding Fathers and glories of the Revolution, they
occasionally addressed the issues of the day in a forthright and even controversial manner. When such
orations focused on slavery, Indian removal, or some other pressing national matter, they illustrated how
Americans defined the nation’s founding ideals and tried to apply them to their own times.
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Alternative declarations of independence are another rich
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democratic ideals of the French Revolution.fa
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1826, the Declaration of Independence
culture and its public reading once again became a central part of Fourth of July observations. During the
antebellum era, it became common for groups asserting their right to partake in American liberty to
publish their own declarations of independence, modeled a er the language and organization of the
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reformers, and abolitionists offer another way for historians to examine
thow
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Americans reinvented the Fourth of July for theirsown
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By their nature, Fourth of July orations and alternative
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minded rhetoric; they offer little insight into how everyday
people
actually experienced the Fourth. Diaries
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and memoirs offer a much more intimatey
look
original. These alternative declarations made by labor groups, women’s rights advocates, temperance
accounts of the sights, sounds, and smells associated with public and private Fourth of July observations
and tell us about what went on beyond the speaker’s platform on such occasions. Some of the most critical
comments written about the Fourth of July in nineteenth-century America came from diarists distressed by
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Fourth of July celebrations also le a2rich visual record. American
artists wishing to break away from the
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work, painting portraits y
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historical
what they perceived to be the unbridled revelry of the lower classes. Of course, to write a diary or memoir
a person had to be literate, so it is harder to find examples of this source in which people from the lower
struggle for independence from Britain. Visual representations of the Fourth of July were not always
complimentary, however. Paintings and cartoons satirizing disorderly and drunken crowds offered a stark
contrast to the self-congratulatory patriotism expressed in Independence Day orations and other civic
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us kinds of sources associated with particular events in U.S.
In previous chapters, we examined
yoparticular
events. Whether they wished to satirize or encourage the expression of American patriotism through their
history. You have learned about the European-Indian encounter by analyzing captivity narratives, about
the Constitution by reading speeches from New York’s ratification convention, and about the Civil War by
examining photographs from its battlefields. In each of these chapters, the focus has been on the
advantages and disadvantages associated with a particular kind of source. This capstone chapter is
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different because it includes a variety of source types generated over a long period. Your job is to compare
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Examining multiple sources from a specific time period is the sorthof
work
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do all the time.
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No source is perfect. No source can provideo
perspective on the past free from bias or
sefadefinitive
y ausingle,
and contrast a number of different sources to see how they fit together in explaining how American
error. Historians compensate for that imperfection in their materials by identifying and working with a
variety of sources that provide multiple viewpoints on their subject. In a sense, the historian’s task is
similar to completing a jigsaw puzzle, linking individual pieces together by comparing them with and
contrasting them to one another. Historians o en call this process “triangulating evidence,” verifying the
ce.
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entirely reliable; only by putting it together
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A er examining the evidence
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historians arrange the results of their research into a
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coherent narrative — with a beginning,
middle,
and
— just as a jigsaw puzzle assumes its final shape
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om to reveal the whole.
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when the sections formed by the individual pieces
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accuracy of one source by fitting it together with several others. Alone, no single piece of evidence is
Using multiple kinds of sources can produce rich insights into a historical period, but this type of work also
requires considerable attention to detail. It is necessary to devise a system for recording notes and keeping
track of where each source came from so that you can properly document the sources later on. Although it
is important to ask some questions about each source — Who produced it? where and when? for what
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an opportunity to examine how one person experienced
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When working with any source from the past,
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sources are created, used, and interpreted. Tastes and technologies change over time, altering the effect
audience? — you also need to tailor different questions to different types of sources. A diary entry will offer
and meaning of a source from one era to another. For example, in an age before radio, television, or other
telecommunications, an oration delivered in a town square might have had a much more significant place
in a Fourth of July observation than it would today. The president of the United States still makes a speech
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every year on the Fourth, but how many Americans do you think actually see or read that speech? Use
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Source Analysis Table
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caution, then, and avoid applying the dominant beliefs or technological capabilities of one historical period
The sources included in this chapter — speeches, alternative declarations, images, diaries, and memoirs —
represent public and private attitudes about the United States in the years between 1819 and 1903. This
chapter is your opportunity to review the principles of source analysis that we have been developing
ce.
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operates as your checklist of questions to ask of each
source.
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the array of sources; identify u
differences
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Source
Source
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n@hSource Source Source What does this source tell you about
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throughout this book and to apply them to your own interpretation of the sources. The following table
July?
1. John Trumbull, Declaration of
Independence (1819)
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3. Daniel Webster, “Adams and
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Jefferson” (1826)
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2. John Lewis Krimmel, Independence
Day in Center Square (1819)
4. Trades’ Union of Boston (1834)
5. Frederick Marryat (1837)
6. Declaration of Sentiments (1848)
7. Frederick Douglass (1852)
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8. John Wannuaucon Quinney (1854)
9. Sidney George Fisher (1864 and 1866)
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10. Jacob E. Yoder (1866)
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11. Winslow Homer, “Fire-Works on the
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Night of the Fourth of July” (1868)
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12. Thomas Worth, “The Fourth of July in
the Country” (1868)
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14. Amos Bad Heart Bull, “4. July. 1903”
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13. Fernando Miranda, “The Freed Slave
in Memorial Hall” (1876)
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