It’s January: Fireworks Anyone?

One SheetCome July 4th, Americans will again celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the nation’s birthday.

But declaration is one thing; realization is quite another.  And on July 4, 1776, realization was still one long, hard-fought war away.

When did the rest of the world actually recognize the United States of America as a free and sovereign nation? Certainly not on July 4, 1776.  Nor was it on October 17, 1781, when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.  American independence was consummated only when the world powers agreed to acknowledge and respect American sovereignty over the lands from Canada to Florida, the Atlantic to the Mississippi.  And that took place 224 years ago, on January 20, 1783. 

Until then, Americans feared war might break out again, or sovereignty might be compromised.  The news finally came when the French sloop Triumph sailed into the port of Philadelphia on March 24.  Then, and only then, could Americans celebrate “Peace, Liberty and Independence.”

Printer Eleazer Oswald, a former colonel in Washington’s army, got the news on a Sunday.  Breaking the Sabbath, Oswald hustled into his shop on Third Street and prepared this excited version with an exceptionally bold headline.  It hit the streets the following morning, scooping the newspapers and spreading the word that was greeted with pride, relief and joy. 

Flags, fireworks and fanfare, anyone?

[Thanks to the Library Company of Philadelphia for this reproduction of Oswald’s broadside.]

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One Comment on “It’s January: Fireworks Anyone?”

  1. Jon Yuengling Says:

    While March 24 may be as good as the 4th of July, the United States of America can be argued to of not been totaly free until after the second War of Independce also know as the War of 1812.

    For me the 4th work as it is accepted, even if it is not correct. It can also be 2nd of July when the motion was introduced or the 8th of July was it was made public.

    Jon


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