On the Fourth of July 1786
Attributed to Margaretta Mason Brown
Hail glorious day! Forever to be known,
When first Columbia’s rising glories shone;
When first she humbled haughty Britain’s pride,
And quelled of Tyranny [?] flowing tide.
‘Tis now ten years since first she claimed her own,
And scorned to bow before Oppression’s throne;
Ten years since Heaven-born Freedom first appears
And Independancy her Banner rear’d.
Join all ye Muses – join your tuneful songs,
And praise the Hero to whom praise belongs;
Such deeds as his shall never dormant be,
But on Fame’s golden Trumpet reach the sky,
And there forever will record his name,
Columbia’s glory, and Brittania’s shame,
Whilst to his worth e’en Infancy shall pay
The untutored tribute of an artless lay.
America celebrates the 236th anniversary of our nation’s independence on Wednesday.
Throughout the land, those Americans who can will use the time off from work for family activities, games, and picnics; for water sports, ball games, and fireworks; and, of course, for rest and relaxation. Some will spend part of the day reflecting on the gift of freedom and the meaning it has for our country today.
In honor of the holiday, Liberty Hall Historic Site will host its Old-fashioned Family Fourth of July at the site from 2-4 p.m. Activities will take place on the back porch of the Orlando Brown House and the surrounding grounds.
Events will feature croquet on the lawn, children’s games, and patriotic music. Free tours of Liberty Hall will be given from 3-4 p.m. There will also be a reading of Margaretta Mason Brown’s poetry about liberty and the Fourth of July, and children will be invited to make stars for our own Star-Spangled Banner.
A baking competition provides an opportunity for families and individuals to submit a red, white, and blue dessert for judging, and everyone gets free watermelon. Here are the rules for the contest:
Enter your favorite red, white, and blue dessert for the chance at a prize. The colors can come from the ingredients or the decoration – just as long as at least one of the colors is represented in your dessert.
Tell us your “intent to participate” by Monday, July 2. For an entry form, rules, and schedule, visit www.libertyhall.org, call Jennifer at 227-2560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The event is part of LHHS’s year-long commemoration of the War of 1812 Bicentennial.
Other events planned during the year include a free outdoor concert on the lawn on Saturday, Aug. 25 featuring the 202nd Army Band of the Kentucky National Guard, an 1812-inspired dinner in the Orlando Brown House for our annual “A Very Brilliant Party” event on Sept. 28-29 in which local re-enactors will portray Kentucky soldiers in that war; and a fall lecture series on Kentuckians’ and Frankfort’s involvement in the War of 1812.
Over the next few years, there will be a lot of attention paid to America’s wartime past. Each year, July Fourth provides an opportunity to revisit the American Revolution. From 2011 through 2015, historic sites and communities across the country will remember the battles and soldiers who took part in the Civil War that was raging 150 years ago. And through 2014, we will also commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, called by some the second war of Independence and “the forgotten war.”
Through these events, Americans will be able to experience the past through reenactments, demonstrations, and interactive programs. They will also be able to pay tribute to the men and women who have protected our country and preserved our freedoms as well as honor those who gave their lives in service to the causes for which they fought.
At Liberty Hall Historic Site, the stories of America’s wartime past are intricately woven through the stories of the Brown family. John Brown, the builder of Liberty Hall, was a 17-year-old student at Princeton when the war broke out.
As Princeton’s enrollment numbers dwindled, Brown moved to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., to study law where he undoubtedly took the opportunity to listen to the speeches and discussions in the Virginia statehouse that debated the pros and cons of war.
Did Brown serve?
Whether he actually served in the military during the war remains an item of conjecture. While some histories state that Brown served with a Rockbridge, Va. unit that fought under General Lafayette, and others state that Brown was actually an aide to Lafayette, there is no conclusive report that proves that either of those statements is true.
What is true is that John Brown became a friend and acquaintance of many of the leaders of the American Revolution including Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, James Madison, and James Monroe, and learned from them and others to believe in the values of freedom and to treasure the ideals that the war represented.
After moving to the Danville area in 1783, Brown set up a law practice and served as a representative of Virginia to the Continental Congress while that body wrote the Constitution of the United States.
He also worked to secure statehood for Kentucky, served as the state’s first senator from 1792 through 1804, and became a senior statesman advising governors and other state officials after he left Washington and returned to Frankfort to live.
Margaretta the poet
As a young girl, Margaretta Mason, who married John Brown in 1799, had her own means of expressing her views regarding American independence. While a schoolgirl in the 1780s, Margaretta was an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction. Intelligent and curious about ancient stories of Greek and Roman history, patriotic ideals, and recent politics, she began writing poetry.
Among the poems attributed to Margaretta are three poems focused on liberty and the Fourth of July, the first written when she was only 14 years old. On July 4, 1794, she purportedly wrote a poem entitled Independence or The Fourth of July which ended with the following verse:
Go, join again the circling year,
Go, measure Time’s momentous flight,
Let Freedom’s sons thy charms revere,
And let Despots tremble at thy might;
Go, and immortal honors claim
For Independence is thy name.
Besides two other poems found in her journal and attributed to Margaretta that focus on America’s independence, her journal also includes poems she wrote about the War of 1812 and Kentucky’s role in that war.
The variety of programs that will be offered over the next few years at historic sites across the country including Liberty Hall provide an opportunity for all Americans to discover their own preferred way to participate in activities that commemorate Kentucky and America’s military past and celebrate the freedoms those wartime efforts have secured for us all.