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July 4th, 1862
July 4, 2012 6:46 AM   Subscribe

“If ever men should celebrate the day with the rapt ardor of devotees, it is the soldiers of the Union,” bent on “saving the Union of the revolutionary fathers from destruction.” The residents of Fredericksburg VA didn't celebrate Independence Day in 1862. It was no longer their Independence Day. However, just across the river, within both sight and sound of the residents of Fredericksburg, the Union Army threw a raucous celebration, complete with fireworks, artillery salutes, mule races, a greased pole, and a greased pig.
posted by COD (10 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Call me old fashioned and cynical, but it's just not the 4th without a greased pig.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:12 AM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


a greased pole

His name was Jarosław, and, to be honest, he wasn't all that enthusiastic about it.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:34 AM on July 4, 2012 [20 favorites]


Elsewhere in the Confederacy, the Lost Causers of Vicksburg, Mississippi refused to celebrate Fourth of July for 81 years following the Union victory there on that day in 1863.

Happily, the the tradition of the 4th of July greased pig continues to be celebrated in the US.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:36 AM on July 4, 2012


My kind of party.
posted by greasepig at 7:39 AM on July 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Vicksburg thing is a myth, reportedly created by someone at the National Park Service in 1945 as a publicity thing. 4th celebrations among whites and blacks there are well documented. Whether they were municipality sponsored or not, I don't know. Doubt it. But that apparently wasn't as common a thing then.

I do know that I saw pics yesterday of a 4th celebration in nearby Jackson, in 1900, with American flags hanging near the old state capital. This was all done in connection with the state fair, however.
posted by raysmj at 8:34 AM on July 4, 2012


Call me old fashioned and cynical, but it's just not the 4th without a greased pig.

Have you been watching Congress lately? Plenty of grease there...
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:53 AM on July 4, 2012


Have you been watching Congress lately? Plenty of grease there...

And yet they seem to be completely stuck in place and not actually doing anything. Odd how that works.
posted by hippybear at 9:11 AM on July 4, 2012


Anyway, all this talk of greased pigs makes me want to hang the sling and get new cans of crisco.

Wait, what? That's not what we're talking about?
posted by hippybear at 9:12 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you been watching Congress lately? Plenty of grease there...

Sure, but completing that comparison is downright insulting to the pig.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:14 AM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Vicksburg thing is a myth, reportedly created by someone at the National Park Service in 1945 as a publicity thing.

If it's a myth, it's one picked up by PBS and the Encyclopedia Britannica. TIME had a news item about it in 1945. Historian Shelby Foote even tells one anecdote from the 1930s about "a family from Ohio in town, God knows why, and on July Fourth they drove their car up on the levee and spread a blanket and had a picnic. They didn't set the brakes on the car and it ran down into the Mississippi River and everyone said, 'It served them right for celebrating the Fourth of July.'"

Historian Chris Waldrep argues in his book Vicksburg's Long Shadow: The Civil War Legacy of Race and Remembrance that there were "numerous celebrations of the Fourth of July by white and black people in Vicksburg between 1863 and 1945", but for years during reconstruction, celebrations were limited to those held by the black posts of the Grand Army of the Republic rather than municipal events. Meanwhile, Vicksburg has had more than its share of civic problems celebrating Veterans Day and Memorial Day in light of its legacy of segregation and racism.

Thankfully, there will be an Independence Day "fireworks extravaganza" in Vickburg tonight.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:26 AM on July 4, 2012


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