Cover image for Celebrating the fourth : Independence Day and the rites of Nationalism in the Early Republic
Celebrating the fourth : Independence Day and the rites of Nationalism in the Early Republic
Travers, Len, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Amherst, Mass. : University of Massachusetts Press, [1997]

Physical Description:
x, 278 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E286 .A184 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In Celebrating the Fourth Len Travers traces the origins and functions of the quintesssential American holiday from the first festivals in 1777 to the Jubilee of Independence in 1826. Applying anthropological analyses of social rituals, he skillfully explicates the rich symbolic content of such activities as processions, banquets and entertainments. By examining Fourth of July celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia and Charleston, he is able to discuss the interplay between local/regional and national identities and interests.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In a richly documented work that will appeal to historians, social scientists, folklorists, and general readers alike, Travers examines the rituals and symbols associated with the US celebration of the Fourth of July. Concentrating primarily on rites and festivities in Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston, South Carolina, between 1777 and 1826, the author traces the metamorphosis of a day set aside initially to commemorate separation from England to one that celebrated the values and behavior essential for a republican society, and, ultimately, to one that glorified who Americans had become as a people. As new purposes for the holiday surfaced, new rites and symbols emerged. In the 1780s the Fourth was shaped by partisan considerations and it continued to be politicized until after the War of 1812, as parties struggled to cultivate and legitimize a national character and purpose in their own image. Generally, the festivities of the Fourth have extolled the past, hyperbolized the present, and anticipated the future, even as they have obscured dangerous ambiguities and contradictions within American society. Travers's careful examination of the Fourth before 1826 offers valuable insights into Americans' national vision and ceremonies of the present. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. G. S. Rowe; University of Northern Colorado