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Independence Day, 1821, Celebration

[From: The Daily Journal, July 9, 1882]

July 4th, 1821.

The 15th anniversary of American Independence was celebrated in Newbern with patriotism and spirit. Agreeably to the arrangements previously entered into by the Newbern Guards the day was ushered in by a discharge of cannon.

At sunrise the Guards appeared on parade, when the American colors were hoisted in various parts of the town and on the numerous vessels in the harbor, amid the discharge of artillery and musketry and the ringing of bells. During this time “Hail Columbia” and other patriotic songs were played by the band attached to the company.

At half past 10 the Guards proceeded to the Baptist Church, which was already crowded by a large assemblage of citizens, of whom the ladies constituted a majority. After prayer by the Rev. Mr. Meredith, a short but pertinent exordium was delivered by Francis L. Hawks, Esq., who with much animation read the Declaration of Independence. An oration was then spoken by John H. Bryan, Esq., one of the members. He commenced as follows:

Let it not be said, fellow soldiers, that the theme to which it is my duty to invite your attention is trite or common: as well might be the glorious orb of day be rebuked for presenting each morn his well known face as well might we refuse to partake of the bounties which the Author of all good has spread around us in such profusion because those bounties are too common, and have too often been enjoyed. Far, far distant be the day when this noble and mighty theme shall cease to awaken and rouse into rapture each patriot feeling. Like the smile of the friend we love, it surely cannot cloy from repetition alone. It blends that rare and intrinsic merit which can overcome and satisfy the “dull cold caution” of age; with all of noble and grand and sublime that can captivate and enhance the most wayward imagination of youth. As each mountain rivulet, though it transverse thousands of miles and be oft impeded and deviated in its course, will at length contribute its mite to the mass of ocean’s waters, so to swell the flood of joyous exultation on this memorable day will each American bosom, indignantly spurning the feeble barriers of party distinction and local jealousy, yield the rich and luxurious issues of a proud and grateful heart. Shall it be? forbid it, oh Shades of the mighty dead--shall it ever be that this day shall pass by unnoticed and unknown? Shall our citizens ever be so engrossed with the appetite of accumulating treasure, as to refuse one fleeting moment the best and most exalted instinct of the heart.

And Mr. Bryan concluded his eloquent oration with this paragraph:

While we, fellow citizen soldiers, should always be jealous of our rights, let us never be turbulent, and let us ever be firmly impressed with the truth of this maxim, that true liberty consists in obedience to laws which we ourselves have made.

At 12 o’clock a Federal salute was fired, and at 3 the company having formed, proceeded with music, to Mrs. Emery’s, where a dinner had been prepared for the occasion, and to which they had invited all heroes of the Revolution who were able to be found in this town and vicinity.

At half past 3 the company, and such of the citizens as had joined them for the occasion, partook of the dinner--Captain Thomas A. Pasteur acting as President, Lieutenant James C. Stevenson and Mr. Thomas Carney as Vice Presidents, and F.L. Hawks, Esq., Moderator.

We are told the utmost harmony and order prevailed, and at 6 o’clock the company retired gratified in having contributed to honor and perpetuate the recollection of a day so conspicuous in the annals of our country.

The following toasts were drank on the occasion:

1. The day we celebrate; memorable in the annals of the world; hallowed by the grateful recollections of a free people. Three cheers and six guns.


Written at the request of the Newbern Guards. Sung by Mr. Nash. Air: Pillar of Glory.

Hail to the day! When Columbia’s glory
        Dawning in splendor, gave light to the world;
Day when her sages, immortal in story,
        The Charter of Freedom exulting unfurl’d:
                Bright flash’d their eagle eye
                And their bold battle cry
Rung. “Independence! or death with the brave;”
                Then triumph rent the air
                Then slavery perish’d there
Washington planted our flag on its grave.

Hail to the patriots--our fame has excited
        To pant for the brightness of Liberty’s light
Soon may the tempest, so long that has blighted
        Wear vict’ry’s Iris to gladden their sight:
                Ev’ry green valley then
                Ev’ry dark mountain glen
Gaily shall echo the shouts of the free:
                Soon may we hear the strain
                Soon echo back again
Liberty’s peal from the lakes to the sea.

Shame to the dastards that tamely permitted
        The allies to rivet the chains they had forg’d;
Ne’er had their Roman forefathers submitted
        Till ev’ry red blade had with slaughter been gorged;
                Fierce had the struggle been
                And they died like men
Spurning existence when glory was gone;
                O! had they met the grave.
                Dear to the truly brave.
Freemen had honored, but now they must scorn.

Sons of Columbia! your spirit will ever
        Cherish the birthright that Washington gave,
Be but united, and Europe can never
        Cumber your march on the soil or the wave.
                Gird on your armor then,
                Prove yourselves gallant men,
Worthy the halo that circles your name,
                Then may our happy land
                Brave every allied band.
Kings cannot sully Republican fame.

2. The memory of the departed heroes of the Revolution.
“How sleep the brave who sink to rest,
With all their country’s wishes blest.”
Drank standing--no gun.

Song--written for the occasion--sung by Mr. Nash. Air: “Scots Wha Hae.”
Sons of those who bravely fought,
Who our independence wrought.
By whose richest blood was bought
        Glorious Liberty;
While you taste the golden prize,
Let your grateful tribute rise,
To those heroes in the skied
        Who died to make you free.
Ye! too, their survivors here,
Ye! who shared their proud career,
Ye! who dropped a kindred tear
        O’er fallen chivalry;
Let the glow of patriot flame
Fire anew your aged frame,
While, in grateful pledge, we name
        Their gallant memory.

3. The memory of General George Washington; the polar star of our political hemisphere. Drank standing--no gun.

4. The Union; cemented by the blood of our forefathers; may it be coeval with time itself. Three cheers and six guns.

5. The President of the United States; “Principles not men.” Three guns.

6. The Congress of the United States; Forgetting local prejudice, may each member feel that he represents his country. Two guns.

7. The Constitution of the United States; it stands as a beacon of light to the nations of the world, which are tossing on the troubled waves of the political ocean. Three cheers and six guns.

8. The Navy of the United States; the glory and defense of its country. Three guns.

9. The Army of the United States; may it always deserve and command the confidence of its country. Three guns.

10. The State of North Carolina; may she speedily attain the rank in the Confederacy to which her resources and patriotism justly entitle her. Three cheers and three guns.

11. The University of North Carolina. To be free we must be enlightened. Two guns.

12. Agriculture; honorable and useful in itself; dignified by a Cincinnatus and a Washington. Two guns.

13. Commerce; the chain which binds together in unity the nations of the earth. Two guns.


By Stephen M. Chester, Esq. The orator of the day; he has awakened the slumbering spirit of the Revolution. May his brilliant example be annually imitated by the eulogists of American liberty.

By Gen. Thomas A. Green. Fourth of July 76 out of which grew a great Republic. May it be commemorated by every American. Three cheers and three guns.

By Edward E. Graham, Esq. The Newbern Guards; exemplary citizens and patriotic soldiers. Long my they live to emulate the virtues and valor of the companions of Washington.

The moderator rose and replied:

MR. PRESIDENT:--On behalf of the Newbern Guards to which I have the honor to belong, and for myself individually do I rise to tender to the gentleman who has complimented us, the expression of our thanks. It is, sir, at all time, grateful to our feelings, and on this occasion peculiarly so to learn that the Guards are pursuing a course marked by the approbation of their fellow citizens, and they therefore through me beg leave to repeat that the gentleman who has proposed as a toast, receives their thanks.

By Richard D. Spaight, Esq.:--8th January, 1815: May it ever be a memento to the world that the sons of Columbia will never suffer their country to be invaded with impunity. Three cheers; two guns.

By the President. Zebulon Pike: he fell asserting his country’s rights and expired on the vanquished flag of his enemy.

By Francis L. Hawks, Esq.--The memory of his excellency Richard Caswell, first Governor of the Independent State of North Carolina:
“Fashioned much to honor from his cradle,
He was a soldier, and a ripe and good one.”

By Thomas Carney--Alexander Hamilton, The friend of Washington.

By Mr. Charles G. Spaight--Thomas Jefferson: The Declaration of Independence will ever remain the monument of his patriotism and talents. Three cheers, two guns.

By John H. Bryan, Esq.--The American Fair: A lady’s smile is the noblest boon of a sailor. Six cheers, two guns.

The President having retired.

By Mr. Charles G. Spaight--The President of the day. Three cheers.

Chester was the Poet, Bryan the Orator and Hawks the Reader of the Guards. Hawks was a reader of uncommon power and few men on the stage even could surpass him; yet the writer of this has heard Mr. Badger say that when they commenced life Thomas Carney was a reader more than Hawks’ equal but for diffidence he could not overcome. When before an audience, without stimulants, he would have been one of the most eloquent speakers in this country. Some of our citizens can still remember him as an actor on the stage equal to the best, though “appearing with the boys” as he would state “merely for the frolic.” Carney studied law with John Stanly and quite early in life was admitted to the bar. But from the diffidence heretofore referred to he soon abandoned the practice of his profession. He never made but one speech in a Court room and that was in Chatham county and it proved he possessed unusual strength of mind and all the graces of an orator. Mr. Hawks and Mr. Badger were both with him on that occasion, and while, they state, he seemed from the commencement to the finish of a speech of over an hour as bold as a lion, they never could anywhere persuade him to repeat the effort. These were then the young men of Newbern and what city or State could boast of greater?

I have taken this opportune season to present to our citizens the action of our fathers, believing it would now be of more interest to them than the history of steam boats, which I will conclude next week. D.

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