|Date(s):||June 14, 1826 to June 15, 1826|
|Tag(s):||Jubilee of Independence|
|Course:||“Professional Historian,” Marietta College|
The 50th Anniversary of Independence Day was a very significant event across the United States. The minutes recorded in Marietta, Ohio, on June 14 and 15 1826, for this celebration nearly one month prior to the jubilee illustrates how important the event would be for the first organized settlement of the Northwest Territory. Caleb Emerson was one of the many coordinators who planned the 50th Anniversary celebration of the, "Jubilee of American Independence." Besides Emerson, the committee consisted of nine men including, Augustus Stone, John Cotton, Silas Cook, John Crawford, Anselm F. Nye, David C. Skinner, Douglas Putnam and Luther Edgerton. They spent two days laying the groundwork and responsibilities for not only being a member of the committee but also for the citizens and their participation in the celebration. In the minutes of the meeting notes, Emerson suggested that all citizens be invited to the jubilee. "Resolved that the proceeding of this meeting be published," he wrote, "and the citizens of the townships be invited to unite with us in the celebration." 1 The celebration was set to include activities like, prayer, the reading of the Declaration of Independence, music, a benediction and more.
A celebration like this was so important to the Revolutionary War veterans because of the blood they shed for the sake of American independence. In the fifty years since July 4, 1776, Americans fought a revolution, wrote a Constitution, defended their new nation from empires and Indians, and expanded westward into the Ohio Valley. Many veterans from these events lived in Marietta, Ohio, where danger remained for the new nation. For example, in a letter from General Rufus Putnam to President George Washington, Putnam shared how the Indians destroyed a settlement very close to Marietta, killing eleven men, one woman, and two children. 2 Difficult times that Americans endured along the frontier made a jubilee worth celebrating. Later, Louise Zimmer remarked on what it was like during the holiday season in the first decades of living in Marietta. Celebrations of almost any kind, especially Christmas celebrations, were banned because of the need to work and defend the settlement. Working during Christmas is another example of why the jubilee was important. It was not until 1815 that the United States was able to push the British and Indians out of the Northwest Territory, providing enough safety to even consider a large anniversary celebration.3 Emerson's purpose of documenting these minutes was to provide a record on what the committee believed was important for the nation, pioneers, army and veterans, as well as the first organized settlement of the Northwest Territory in celebrating this significant jubilee.