Independence Day Celebrations of Yore
Fireworks were not always the center of a July 4 celebration. Pageants,
like this one, the first to be held in Indianapolis in 1821, were
“. . . the young people of the place had obtained a
keelboat that had recently come up the river, and [went] up to Anderson’s spring
for a picnic. . . .”
The following year,
in June 1822, citizens met at Hawkin’s tavern, and
made arrangements for a public celebration on the Military Reserve, which then
extended to Washington Street as well as including the present Military Park.
The celebration opened with a sermon from Rev. John McClung, from the text,
“Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people;” which
was followed by a brief speech and the reading of the Declaration of
Independence by Judge Wick, Washington’s Inaugural Address by Squire Obed
Foote, Washington’s Farewell Address, by John Hawkins, and a prayer and a
benediction by Rev. Robert Brenton. Then followed a dinner, the central feature
of which was a barbequed buck that had been killed the day before by Robert
Harding, with patriotic toasts, and ample supply of the spirit of the maize.
The toasts, fourteen in number, were written by Calvin Fletcher, the last one
being, “Indianapolis. May it not prove itself unworthy the honor the state has
conferred upon it by making it her seat of government.” At night there was a
ball at Crumbaugh’s tavern and justice shop, at the corner of Market and
Speeches were also popular. James S. Hinton, Indiana's first African-American legislator, delivered
a speech at Wood’s Hill, Vigo County, Ind., July 4, 1876
. An excerpt:
"The changes which have swept over this land by reason of
war, have at last lifted him to the plane of recognized manhood. At last,
through civil strife and fraternal blood, the negro has found himself to be a
man, if not a brother. The
forces of truth and the principles of liberty, born in the days of the
revolution, and proclaimed in the Declaration of 1776 have placed the negro for
the first time in his history on this continent in a position to realize that
he is a man and an American citizen. In this centennial year the negro
assists in nominating a President who is to stand upon a platform broad enough
to embrace all Americans, giving security to life and property, while it
extends the hand of fraternal greeting to the men who a few years ago were
engaged in sectional strife. Masters that were, and the slave that is a man
now, stand side by side in the conventions, and sit in legislative assemblies,
and mutually labor to build up a common country."
Trail of Broken Promises Walk arrives in Indiana
Submitted by Shirley Willard, Fulton County
On May 13, thirteen students, an elder and a dog named Willie left Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, Kansas, on a walk to Washington, D. C., to ask the government to stop destroying wetlands and native sacred places. The elder is the uncle of Millie Pepion, a junior at Haskell who organized the walk. She submitted her plans to Clinton Global Initiatives (CGI), Chicago, and when it was accepted, she met former President Bill Clinton and talked to him on April 30. CGI endorses people who try to effect change in their community in a positive way. Clinton has American and African initiatives and Millie is requesting that he make a Native American Indian initiative. She presented this request to him in person June 8.
Since leaving Kansas, the group walked the Potawatomi Trail of Death. This trail now has over 80 historical plaques and many highway signs across 25 counties in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Towns and communities along the way opened their hearts to the group, welcoming them with food, water, and free camping in parks and backyards.
The group entered Indiana June 4. Williamsport and Attica’s Potawatomi Festival hosted a meal for them and provided free camping at Ouibache Park. They joined Purdue’s Native American Cultural Center for dinner and a movie on June 5. On June 6 the group was led by Bill and Shirley Willard to retrace the Trail of Death from Lafayette to Rochester. Geneva Center brought canoes for the students to take a ride on the Tippecanoe River at the Trail of Courage.
The Haskell students have stopped at nearly every one of the 80 Trail of Death historical markers. All the historical markers were erected with donations at no expense to the taxpayer. Over 30 were erected by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts. You can follow the group's progress on the Trail of Broken Promises Facebook Page.