Independence on the Frontier: Sycamore Shoals hosts annual celebration marking the birth of a new nation

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, July 5, 2017

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Those words, which serve as the opening for the Declaration of Independence, rang out inside Fort Watauga over the weekend as Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park hosted its Independence on the Frontier celebration.

Hundreds of flocked to the park for the annual event and re-enactors gave visitors a glimpse into what life was like on the frontier in 1776. The two-day event included a variety of activities such militia drills, an artillery demonstration, music, traditional frontier skills demonstrations, and, of course, a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

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As part of the re-enactment, a courier arrives at Fort Watauga bearing news of the Colonies’ decision to declare their independence from England and form the United States of America. The courier presents documents to the security committee of the Watauga Association, which then in turn announces the momentous decision to the settlers gathered inside Fort Watauga. Following the announcement, the courier, portrayed this year by re-enactor Mike Hayslett, read aloud the Declaration of Independence for all to hear.

The militia raised a new flag representing a new country over the Fort and fired a volley from their muskets in celebration.