The July 4th That Could Have Wrecked the Country

From a story on by Ted Widmer headlined “The Fourth of July That Could Have Wrecked the Country”:

The Fourth of July began with so much noise in 1861 that a Washington newspaper reported that it “aroused old fogyism from its sleep.” Even at daybreak, there were firecrackers, small arms fire, cannonades and home-made torpedoes, in addition to the tolling of bells from every church in the city. Then, as now, many Americans measured the success of Independence Day by how much noise they could make, a tradition that had grown robust in the nation’s capital.