Getting married on the Fourth of July! What an exciting and memorable way for a couple to bond and to highlight the beginning of their journey through life together. Marriages on Independence Day were not uncommon during the 19th century. But clergymen were not always available, especially if they were already scheduled to present Fourth of July addresses at public ceremonies. At Newbury, Massachusetts, for example, on July 4, 1843, Mr. Nathaniel Little married Miss Edna Lunt, the ceremony performed by Rev. Withington. Following, there was a festival at a nearby grove that was attended by 2500 persons. One of the toasts offered was candid: "State of Matrimony--Happiness to those who have this day assumed the only chain which freemen can wear"(Alexandria Gazette, 12 July 1843, 3).
On the occasion of the 1876 Centennial celebration in Washington, D.C., eleven couples joined hands in marriage ( Evening Star, 3 July, 4).
One of the most memorable marriages on the Fourth of July reported occured in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1872 on a boat. Howard Hardy had asked Miss Maggie Forsyth for her hand and she accepted.
The week of July 4th had been very hot in Washington. The newspaper reported:
The morning opened with a cloudy sky and a sultry atmosphere, modified somewhat by refreshing breezes, which were especially grateful, after the oppressive heat of the last few days. In the afternoon and during the early part of the evening there were slight showers of rain, which did not, however, materially interfere with the festivities of the day. ("The Day We Celebrate," Evening Star, 5 July, 1872, 4.)
The showers certainly didn't interfere with Howard and Maggie's plans. All they thought of was being together, and to meet the steamer City of Washington which was leaving the D.C. dock at 2 p.m. They did and the newpaper described their cherished moment:
On the evening of the 4th, says the Alexandria Gazette of yesterday, the pilot-house of the ferry steamer City of Washington was the scene of a remarkable marriage. The parties, Miss Maggie Forsyth and Mr. Howard Hardy, accompanied by Rev. J.W. Phelps, left Washington on the 2 o'clock boat, and landed at Alexandria at half-past 2, the preacher going up into the city and the expectant couple waiting on the wharf. In a short time the preacher returned, when the three and the pilot of the boat, Mr. J.R. Wood, who had been requested to act as witness, repaired to the pilot-house, where, beneath the steamer's flag, and with the tresses of the bride blown from her blushing cheeks by the breezes of the Potomac, the twain were made one according to the form of the M.E. church. The groom was so excited that he forgot to salute the bride, but the gallant pilot saying that he was a married man, and "knew how it was himself," performed that part of the ceremony with due precision. The happy couple then left the boat. ("A Novel Marriage," Evening Star, 6 July 1872, 4.)
This page last updated May 20, 2008.