On Parade with the Grand Old Flag

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” — Abraham Lincoln

This Wednesday, Americans all over the country will line town streets to celebrate our nation’s independence and watch 4th of July Parades. The Fourth of July has only been a federal holiday since 1941, but has been celebrated with parades, concerts, and fireworks since the delegates from the 13 original colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Founding father John Adams believed that July 2nd (that’s today!)—the day that the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence—was the correct date on which to celebrate American independence. In protest, he turned down invitations to appear at July 4th events. In celebration of our nation’s independence, and in support of Adams’ American right to protest, this July 2nd we share this selection of Independence Day parade photographs from the early years of photography.

July 4th Celebration (Antiques and Horribles), 1882

4th of July waiting for the parade, 1908. Photo by Edward Lee Luce

The Maples Float, 1908

July 4th, Bridgewater, MA, 1909. Photo by A.S. Judson

Hudson Grange Parade Float, 1916.

4th of July Parade, 1921. Photo by E.C. Newtons

4th of July Parade, Stockbridge Indians Float, 1921.

4th of July Parade: Birth of a Nation Float, 1922.

4th of July Parade: Hunt Float, 1922.

4th of July Parade: Costumes of 1790, 1922.

4th of July Parade: Hawthorne's Little Red House Float, 1922.

Lenox 4th of July Parade, 1923.