The Glorious Fourth

Fourth Of JulyAn American Holiday, An American History

From the Jacket:

The Glorious Fourth, the first popular
history of Independence Day from the 18th century to the present, is a distinguished addition to Facts on File’s An American Holiday, An American History series.

Author Diana Karter Appelbaum details Fourth of July celebrations from the first days of independence to the Bicentennial and beyond. Her delightful history charts the growth and evolution of the holiday form generation to generation, opening a one-of-a-kind window on Americana.

Readers will learn, for instance, that celebrations in the new republic were clearly split along party lines, with typical towns hosting separate festivities for the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. In contrast, after the national bloodletting of the Civil War, the holiday was used as an occasion to reconcile former rivals. This aspect of the holiday culminated in the 1876 Centennial celebration in Philadelphia, where Southern dignitaries and military companies were accorded high honors.

Independence days have been exuberant during times of national triumph, and muted during the hardships of war; they have been hard-drinking affairs on the American frontier, and have seen lazy backyard barbecues in postwar suburbia. Through all these metamorphoses, the distinct ways that Americans have chosen to celebrate their nationhood can tell us a great deal not only about how they have lived their highest ideals but also how they have lived their daily lives. And The Glorious Fourth allows each period of American history to tell its tale.

An abundance of drawings, photographs, speeches, and contemporary toasts adds to the charm of this delightful yet authoritative history.


“A thorough treatment of the genesis and development of July 4th celebrating.”
Book News

The Glorious Fourth: An American Holiday, an American History by Diana Karter Appelbaum
Review by: Marc L. Harris
Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Winter, 1989), pp. 584-586


George Washington University Professor Amitai Etzioni, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, references ‘The Glorious Fourth’ as a key work on the social history of holidays..