Thanks to John at Transylvanian Dutch who originated the Amanuensis Monday meme, providing a framework (and nudge) for transcribing family records, news clippings and other treasures.
The recent heat wave in the Midwest drove me to extremes as I sought refuge indoors. Extreme browsing. Extreme snooping through old newspapers. And extreme laughter when I found an article in a Fredericksburg, Virginia newspaper detailing the celebration held in Kilmarnock, Virginia on July 4, 1830.
It reminded me of the scene in the old Gable movie Never Let Me Go, when Gable (in good Cold War fashion) drinks his Soviet foes under the table during a night of increasingly absurd toasts. The festivities weren't reported until July 9th, probably the first day any of the gentlemen were sober enough to put quill to paper. To be fair, there were other equally florid accounts of celebrations across Virginia.
Kilmarnock, (Lancaster,) Ju'y 9th, 1830.
The 54th Anniversary of American Independence, was celebrated with great hilarity and spirit at this place.
The morning was ushered in by the roar of the cannon, the effect of which upon our waters, was grand and imposing. At 12 o'clock, the Declaration of Independence was read by Doct. Morris Emanuel, prefaced by a concise, but highly entertaining recital of the events which led to its adoption. At 3 o'clock, the company sat down to a handsome dinner prepared by Capt. Issac Brest [sic]. After the cloth was removed, V. S. Conway, Esq was appointed Presi_ent, and Col. A. Palmer, Vice President – when the following toasts were drunk:
1. The Day we celebrate – May its return be speedily hailed with universal, as it is now with national rejoicing.
2. George Washington – When the triumphal arch of liberty shall extend o'er the earth, his name shall be inscribed thereon, as its illustrious founder.
3. Thomas Jefferson – The renowned author of the Declaration of Independence. The world is enriched by his wisdom, whilst liberty has lost her dearest votary.
4. Our Union – Let it be as the seven sealed book, torn in sunder only at the sound of the last trump.
5. Universal Liberty – Though the desolation of Kings, Principalities and Powers, be the necessary sacrifice – it must prevail –
For freedom's battle once begun
Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son,
Though battled oft, is ever won.6. The Ex-Presidents – Then light was shed like the golden beams of the meredian sun – Like the declining rays of that orb, their wisdom is reflected by other luminaries.
7. The President and Heads of Departments – By their acts, shall they be adjudged.
8. The Army and Navy – Let them command the watch-towers and battlements of the Fortress, for which they are so eminently qualified; and there let their command cease.
9. Agriculture, Commerce and Manufactures – The foundation, pedestal and pillar of national strength and individual wealth.
10. The Arts and Sciences – They may grow and prosper under the fostering hand of a king or despot – They must ever flourish in the genial soil of Republicanism.
11. The New Constitution – The work of the sages, patriots and orators of the State – May its practical good be commensurate with the exalted character of its framers.
12. Virginia – From the ashes of her illustrious dead, may the Genius of wisdom and glory, Phoenix-like, arise in regenerated splendor.
13. The Daughters of America – Not less distinguished for beauty, intelligence and love of virtue, than her sons are for wisdom, chivalry and love of liberty.
VOLUNTEERSBy the President of the day, V. Y. Conway, Esq.– The flag of our country, which floats from yon battery: How dear to our hearts is each star, and each stripe.
By Capt. Gresham – The memory of De Witt Clinton: of Liberty the friend, the genius of internal improvement: His name will ever be remembered with admiration by the friends of equal rights.
By Mr. J. W. A. Edmonds – Henry Clay: May he receive from his country's hands, that which his genius, talents and public services merit – the Presidency of the United States.
By Mr. B. M. Tomlin – The Ladies: Let us offer them hearts of devotion, and ask in return, smiles of affection.
By Dr. Emanuel – South Carolina and Georgia: A grave to their spirit of anarchy and disorganization; a monument to their attachment to the Union.
By Maj. Dulany – Of the disaffection of Carolina and Georgia, let us say – “eras credimus hodie nihil.”
By Mr. James Pollard – Friendship – May its benign influence never cease to be felt.
By Col. A. J. Palmer – The prosperity of the Union: A reduction of the Tariff.
By Capt. Gresham – Our absent friend, J. W. Chinn: May he live many hears and enjoy that esteem and admiration which his bland and amiable manners, his talents and usefulness so much entitle him to.
By Capt. Armstrong – Gen. Jackson: His bravery set at defiance the uplifted sword of a British officer, (when a boy) – his reputation has no less triumphantly set at defiance the envy, hatred and slanders of his enemies in his maturer age.
By Mr. W. Eustace – The Fair Sex: Though the theme of compliment may be exhausted, their warmest eulogium will ever reside in our hearts.
By Mr. J. W. A. Edmonds – The American Youth, the future support of our nation: May the Republican spirit of '76, ever dwell in their hearts – and may virtue direct their steps through life.
By Dr. Yerby – Washington and Liberty: The one the cause, the other the effect – The former our fortress in war, the latter our companion in peace.
By Dr. C. H. Leland – Levi Woodbury, Robert Y. Hayne and Philip P. Barbour: Able and efficient servants of the people.
By R. Smither – Whilst we commemorate the deeds of the patriots of the Revolution, we will not forget the brave defenders of our country in the second war.
By V. Y. Conway, Esq. President of the Day – Henry Clay: Like the slumbering fires of Etna, he will again burst forth in splendor, but not in terror – save to the foes of regulated liberty, or the friends of military misrule.
My giggles diminished as I read through the toasts. The second war must be a reference to the War of 1812. I was unsure what the reference to the “New” constitution meant, but discovered Virginia had just ratified a new constitution expanding suffrage, though not to the degree the growing population in the western part of the state sought.
Gov. Clinton seemed an unlikely candidate for a toast, but the Erie Canal was of great interest to the planters living along the rivers of Virginia's Northern Neck. Several of the men in attendance were investors with the steamship lines that crossed the Chesapeake Bay. The equal rights reference was surely referring only to white men. It seems unlikely that Capt. Brent (not Brest) prepared the dinner himself. Most unlikely. As to the tender toasts to the Fair Sex – why bless their hearts.
Col. Palmer is my husband's 3rd great-grandfather. At least half of the attendees are his cousins of one degree or another. Conway is likely my distant cousin, though the connection would be in England rather than this country (we descend from different Conway lines).
"Untitled," [Frederick, Virginia] Enquirer, 27 Jul 1830, p. 4, col. 1; digital images, GenealogyBank.com (accessed 6 Jul 2012), Historic Newspapers.
"Tankards," by waldopepper