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Sycamore Shoals looks back to first Independence Day

America’s Independence Day is fast approaching.The-news-of-Independence-arrives-on-the-frontier-300x225
Today, this is a time of celebration and patriotism, but how was that news received back in the colonial times when this country was just getting its start?
Reenactors will take a look back at how the news of the revolution was received by families on the 18th century frontier during “Independence on the Frontier” this weekend at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area. The event is hosted by the Watauga County Regiment of the North Carolina Militia.
“We want to show what the reaction to the Declaration of Independence would have been like for the people on the frontier,” said Sycamore Shoals Historic Interpreter Chad Bogart. “News didn’t travel as fast back then as it does now, so they probably wouldn’t have heard it had been signed until August or September. Now, it is on everyone’s minds since the Fourth of July is coming up.”
Bogart said the at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, close to a third of the population was still loyal to England and the King. These people would have seen the signing of the document as an act of rebellion against their home country.
As for the remainder of the people, another third was in favor of independence, and the other third had no feelings for either side.
“Four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, the settlers in this area set up the Watauga Association,” Bogart said. “I would say they were very much in favor of the Declaration of Independence.”
The Watauga Association was the first independent form of government established in the colonies.
Bogart said the highlight of the weekend is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, when reenactors will read the Declaration of Independence to the crowd. After the Declaration is read, the reenactors will change the flags from the British Union flag to the United States Betsy Ross flag.
“It gives the other reenactors an opportunity to chime in,” he said. “It is great for the public to be there, to be involved in the excitement.”
Bogart pointed out that plenty of other opportunities would be available through the day on Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday at 1 p.m. will be a Ladies Tea and Sunday Social, which will reference back to the Edenton Tea Party.
The Edenton Tea Party was led by 51 women in Edenton, N.C., who signed a petition on Oct. 25, 1774, in response to England’s Tea Act. The women declared they would boycott all English products until goods could be made in America or purchased at a fair price.
The event will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, and 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 29.
For more information about the event, call the park at 543-5808.