Independence Days!

John Adams, an American Founding Father, and the second President of the United States, predicted how Americans would spend our future Independence Days when he wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, the day after the Second Continental Congress made its decree for freedom: " I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more." The next day, Congress formally adopted the Declaration, sounding the bell at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Pen would not actually be put to paper until August 2, but six long years of struggle for independence had begun.


In New Jersey we are fortunate to be able to celebrate our independence on hallowed ground, the Crossroads of the Revolution, where so many crucial moments in the war took place.

The traditional patriotic exercises at the Middlebrook Encampment in Bridgewater will commence on Sunday, July 4, 2022. For 118 consecutive years, the Declaration of Independence has been read on Independence Day at the 20-acre park operated by the Washington Campground Association at 1761 Middlebrook Rd., in Bridgewater. The park commemorates the two major Continental Army encampments at Middlebrook, in spring of 1777, and winter of 1778-79. It is here that the first American flag was unfurled, and where a 13-Star Betsy Ross flag flies continuously by special act of Congress. The solemn Independence Day Ceremony there, well-attended by dignitaries, consists of a changing of the 13-star flag and the reading of the Declaration, followed by a keynote speaker and an historical address. Ceremonies begin at 10:30am.

Join us this year, the 246th Anniversary of the Declaration's adoption, for the Washington Camp Ground Association’s Fourth of July Patriotic Exercise. Bring lawn chairs and listen to patriotic music before the introduction of dignitaries, reading of the Declaration, Keynote Speaker, historical address, and Benediction. Ceremonies begin at 10:30am. 732/469-6453

Washington Camp Ground, 1761 Middlebrook Rd., Bridgewater

Shippen Manor

Dr. William Shippen, Sr. (1712-1741) was a Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress (1778-1780). After his tenure, Dr. Shippen returned to his medical practice in Philadelphia, PA. His eldest son, Dr. William Shippen, Jr. (1736-1808) served in various capacities as Chief Physician and Director General of the Hospital of the Continental Army in NJ (1776), Director of Hospitals West of the Hudson River (Oct. 1776), and Director of Hospitals for the Continental Army, a precursor of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army (11 April 1777 to January 1781). Joseph William Shippen, another son of Dr. Shippen, Sr. who lived at Shippen Manor and supervised the "furnace tract", served as Quartermaster of the American Army hospital in Bethlehem, PA.   

Shippen Manor, 8 Belvidere Ave. in Oxford

At Shippen Manor Museum, beginning at 11 a.m., the Colonial Musketeers Junior Fife & Drum Corps (Hackettstown, NJ) will begin the celebration with music from the era. At 11:30 a.m., the Bachmann Players (Easton, PA) will commemorate the celebration with readings and other activities that preceded the actual reading of the Declaration. The reading will begin promptly at 12 noon (the same time as the 1776 reading in Easton, PA). Following the reading, the Colonial Musketeers Junior Fife & Drum Corps will entertain our visitors with colonial-era music until 1 p.m., when the museum will open for tours. Upon commencement of this celebration, we invite our visitors to join our docents on the main floor of the museum (accessible along the wooden boardwalk that extends from the Belvidere Avenue parking area to the building) where they will provide tours from 1 to 4 p.m. They will share the history of the Manor, it's people, and the local industrial history of Oxford. We are offering only tours of the main floor of the building. The last tour begins at 3:30 p.m. Our rear parking will be closed prior to and during our "Celebration of Independence", but will open for museum tours (after 1 p.m.). Please exercise caution while on the driveway as there will be other vehicles and pedestrians.  The driveway is a one-way only (please follow the signs).


At Morristown National Historical Park, July Fourth activities beginning with a "Warm-Up for the Declaration" followed by the reading of the Declaration. The "Warm-Up" will feature a park ranger in period clothing entertaining the crowd and giving a "kids level" explanation of the Declaration. Eighteenth-century stories, jokes and riddles are all part of the fun. 12pm. Free Admission. Washington's Headquarters, 30 Washington Pl..

This story was first published: Summer, 2013