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Historical Flavors: 1875 July 4th Celebration in Atlanta

English: Potter's House in Atlanta housed Conf...
English: Potter’s House in Atlanta housed Confederate sharpshooters until Union artillery made a specific target of it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1875, Georgia’s Atlanta Herald put together a pamphlet about that year’s Independence Day celebration. Inside, they included articles they had published about the schedule and letters from notables who were invited.

During the ten years after the war, celebrating anything had been a tough effort for the South. For several years, they suffered through Reconstruction, battled bitterness, and avoided what they perceived as cheering on the Union’s victory.

The Atlanta Herald pushed this celebration, inviting numerous men who held respected positions. Most agreed with the program and accepted the invitation. Some sent regrets due to other commitments. But some sent regrets because they opposed it.

One invitee (who accepted with reluctance) shared this opinion:

“No man would excel me in enthusiastic exultation at the commencement of the hundredth year of our government as our fathers gave it to us (emphasis mine), with our State rights and our normal-glorious institution of slavery, with its clear social distinctions of race and color, under the absolute control of the several States.

But there is something mournfully sad in being summoned to celebrate the ninety-ninth anniversary of a country rent and lacerated by civil war, culminating in the destruction of private property unprecedented in the history of the civilized world. In my heart I feel that the existence of the government which dawned on the memorable 4th of July, 1776, perished in 1861, and this is the fourteenth year of the present government. I can’t perceive how any Southern man can, with patriotic pleasure, participate in the celebration of the anniversary of a government that has long ceased to exist.”

The numerous letters in this publication give us a greater understanding of the thinking of southerners in that first decade after the war. Thankfully, there were those who chose to move on and worked to bring us together to form an even greater nation. 

You’ll find the whole 24-page pamphlet here. It makes for interesting reading if you’re history and/or Civil War-minded. 

If you had been a Southerner in 1875, do you think you would have moved on enough to celebrate the 4th?

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As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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