Upper Makefield >> As temperatures hovered in the 90s and humidity levels reached uncomfortable levels, scores of visitors stepped back in time to experience the Fourth of July at Washington Crossing Historic Park.
From the Hibbs House to the McConkey Ferry Inn, the village of Taylorsville bustled with the sights and sounds of Colonial America as the young and old sauntered through the cluster of historic buildings nestled on the banks of the Delaware.
As youngsters played Colonial games on the banks of the Delaware River, a crowd gathered around the steps of the McConkey Ferry Inn to hear the Declaration of Independence read by historical interpreters Thomas Maddock and Sean Corcoran.
Reading from the document, Maddock said, “We, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain.”
The declaration, read in town squares and in public halls throughout the colonies following its adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, declared the fledgling nation’s independence from the tyranny of Great Britain and is the reason the nation celebrates its independence on the Fourth of July.
The immortal words, penned by Thomas Jefferson, amounted to a declaration of war against the British and at the time were considered treason by the King.
While readings of the Declaration took place throughout the afternoon, just outside the boathouse re-enactors from Glover’s 14th Continental Regiment recruited youngsters into Washington’s Army and then drilled them in musketry and field maneuvers.
While the young recruits were charging the field, at the other end of the village at the Hibbs House visitors watched as re-enactors demonstrated spinning and laundry and spoke about 18th century tea.
Inside the blacksmith shop, historical interpreters demonstrated the 18th century craft of metal work while just outside visitors explored an herb garden and learned about the popular herbs of the Colonial period and their many medical uses.
At the nearby visitors center, local author David Price read excerpts from and signed copies of his book, “Rescuing the Revolution.” In the book, Price, who works as an interpreter at the park, presents nine biographical vignettes, painting a vivid portraint of the “unsung heroes” behind the nation’s struggle for independence. He donated a portion of each book sale to the Friends of Washington Crossing Park.
Just outside the doors, kids were covering their ears as artillery crews fired off a canon sending a series of loud booms echoing across the river valley and a stream of sulfur-filled smoke billowing toward the river.
The Fourth of July experience also included quill pen writing, a weaving demonstration, a colonial themed craft, an exhibit showcasing the history of the flag and tours of the Inn where Washington wrote a dispatch about his intent to cross the Delaware River here on Christmas Night 1776.