Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Independence Day – July 4, 1862

Posted By on July 4, 2012

From an editorial that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 4 July 1864, the following excerpts are presented:

The Day

The Nation celebrates, to-day, the eighty-sixth anniversary of its birth, and although we had hoped also to commemorate at the same time the occupation of the city of Richmond by our troops, we can well afford to postpone that event for a reason, and find still remaining sufficiently abundant source of congratulation.  Since the Fourth of July last our people have accomplished much, both on land and water.  We have driven Rebellion from some of its strongest haunts, and bound it within straitened limits; we have conquered back States to the Union; we have resumed dominion over the Western waters; we have successfully maintained a blockade of unprecedented extent and efficiency; we have held in check the hostility of European powers, by the display of the most formidable military resources, and of a genius which has reconstructed modern naval warfare.  We believe the renown of the country is greatly enlarged by the events and achievements of the last twelve months; and, although, we have suddenly been put to a trial which has strained our resources, strength and patriotism to the utmost, and has sorely rested our institutions, yet we have quit ourselves like men, our escutcheon is still untarnished, and the flag of the Republic, lustrous as ever, still floats aloft, concentrating upon itself, as of yore, the hopes and the affections of the lovers of free government throughout the world.

On the other hand, if our position is surveyed from another stand-point, it seems to be one of gloom.  A Rebellion of gigantic proportions unexpectedly arises to assail our integrity.  our contest with it has been attended with varying fortunes, and although the balance of results is vastly in our favor, yet the public heart has been saddened with the past and the public judgment is perplexed with the future….

Any gloom, however, which may overcast our minds, should be dispelled, when we consider the circumstances which surround our fathers on the day we now celebrate.  They were plunging themselves into a war of which no man saw the end.  They were joining in the dread issue of arms with the most powerful country of Europe.  In a calculation of chances, everything was against them….  Yet, with a mutual pledge to each other, of life, fortune and honor, and with a united appeal unto heaven, they boldly ventured and boldly won…..  As we now recall the memories of that heroic age of the country, let us be stimulated by the contrast to maintain, with our superior advantages, the institutions then established against such fearful odds….

The optimism resented by the Inquirer was short-lived and the war was not going as well as many hoped.

No new stars were added to the flag on 4 July 1862.  The 34-star flag remained the official flag even though eleven states were in rebellion.  The next star would be added on 4 July 1863, when a “seceded” part of “seceded” Virginia became the 35th state (West Virginia).  The question had not yet been resolved on whether the eleven states that had seceded had actually left the union.

War aims still centered on ending the rebellion, but the emancipation of slaves was being considered at the highest levels of the Union.

Two days before 4 July 1862, President Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act which gave states public lands on which to build agricultural colleges.  Pennsylvania State University and Michigan State College were the first to benefit.

Col. John Hunt Morgan

Also on this day in Kentucky, Confederate John Hunt Morgan began a series of raids that would terrorize the local population and earn him honors from the Confederate Congress.  For more information on the Morgan Raids, click here.


One Response to “Independence Day – July 4, 1862”

  1. Tiotaake K Boutu says:

    I Tiotaake personally would tike to thanks ‘Uncle sam” for the freedom that give the world.God will UNCLE SAM. THANK YOU and May the good lord be with you. TIOTAAKE BOUTU.

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