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150 Canadian Review of American Studies Revuecanadiennedetudes americaines But Waldstreicher's book is not primarily about ideologies, and herein lies its real accomplishment. He argues that we have misunderstood American nationalism by focussing on ideology instead of everyday practice, for it was through everyday practice that nationalism was expressed and transmitted. In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes is a wonderful, nuanced account of those practices. Waldstreicher has re-created the toasts and dinners, parades and parties, presidential rides and party meetings in which early American nationalism was expressed, debated, and created. While never losing sight of the ideas which animated them, he has rightly given pride of place to the people from whose actions American nationalism sprung. Jonathan F. Vance University of Western Ontario Len Travers. Celebrating the Fourth: Independence Day Rites of Nationalism in the Early Republic. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997. Pp. x + 278 and bibliography and illustrations. In the period between 1776, when the thirteen colonies declared their independence from British rule, and the aftermath of the War of 1812, when the United States reaffirmed its status as an independent nation, Independence Day emerged as an established public ceremony in the major cities along the Atlantic seaboard marked by spirited debate over the meaning of independence and the character of the new nation. Building on recent scholarly interest in rituals of commemoration and the construction of national identity, Len Travers, in Celebrating the Fourth: Independence Day Rites of Nationalism in the Early Republic, examines the evolution of Independence Day ceremonies and celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston, South Carolina, during the half century between 1777 and 1826. Although no standardized pattern of celebration crossing geographical boundaries developed, rituals of celebration that emerged in all three cities reflected the conscious attempt to construct a shared political identity for the nascent nation. The year after colonists declared their independence, spontaneous expressions of unity in support of the Revolutionary War marked the first Book Reviews 151 Independence Day celebrations. In Boston and Philadelphia, crowds gathered on 4 July 1777 to parade in the streets and reaffirm their commitment to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. City residents lit their windows in the evening and sporadic canon fire punctuated the revelry. In Charleston, South Carolina, patriots celebrated Palmetto Day on 28 June 1777 to commemorate the successful defence of Sullivans Island the previous summer. Borrowing traditional forms of celebration formerly associated with the king's birthday and religious festivals, patriotic colonists began to develop a new series of rituals to define and commemorate their struggle for independence and a shared identity grounded in the principles of the Revolution. During the war, enthusiasm for the annual celebrations waned as patriots were forced to focus on the burdens of wartime. However, after the British defeat, victorious patriots revived their celebrations in an attempt to fix the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War as the origin of the new nation. Boston established an official Independence Day celebration in 1783, recognizing the Fourth of July as an annual event. Although not officially sanctioned, Philadelphia patriots also rekindled their Independence Day celebrations after the war. Charleston festivities, however, were more subdued in an effort to sequester social tensions and intense antiBritish sentiments resulting from extended wartime grievances. Despite these differences, once established as an annual event in these three cities, Independence Day offered a venue for political factions to debate the legacy of the Revolution. In the decades following the war, as American citizens struggled to define the political principles and structure of the new republic, Federalists and antiFederalists , and later Democratic-Republicans, vied for control oflndependence Day celebrations. In 178 8, Philadelphia Federalists staged the "Grand Federal Procession," an elaborate parade that ritually represented the meaning of the Revolution supporting Federalist claims to the newly ratified Constitution . In the 1790s, Boston Republicans began to promote their own Independence Day celebration as an alternative to the official, "Federalistdominated town ceremonies" (157). In Charleston, the large slave population circumscribed Independence Day festivities and debate. These conflicting rituals reveal that "the ability to manipulate the symbols and rites of Independence Day and their significance implied nothing less than the right to rule...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 150-152
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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