The broadside lists the “order of exercises” for the celebration, starting with music by the band. This was followed by a prayer by Rev. J. Nelson, D.D., a hymn by Henry S. Washburn, Esq., and an address by Hon. E. Washburn. A dinner was held at the conclusion of the event. There isn’t much additional information provided on the broadside, but a little bit of research led us to “An address commemorative of the part taken by the inhabitants of the original town of Leicester, in the events of the Revolution: delivered at Leicester, July 4, 1849” found on the Internet Archive. The address was by an Emory Washburn, which we can assume is the “Hon. E Washburn” referenced on the broadside. Emory Washburn, who was born in Leicester in 1800, went on to serve as the Governor of Massachusetts from 1853 to 1854. His address gives a history of the Revolutionary War and the years leading up to it, with a special emphasis on the role of Leicester residents. At the beginning of the address is a note which reads, “The Address was delivered in a grove, a little distance west of the meetinghouse, where a part of Gen. Burgoyne's army encamped on their march through Massachusetts, as prisoners of war, in 1777.” This little footnote helpfully sets the atmosphere in which the day’s events occurred. The published address is over forty pages long - so for the sake of those attending, we hope that Hon. Washburn was a fast speaker!
Most of the broadside consists of the lyrics of the hymn, set to the tune of “Old Hundred.” The tune seems to date to the 1500s and was a popular one for music in the 1800s to be set to. Written seventy-three years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the lyrics call on the memory of those who fought in the war and the freedoms that came as a result of their service and sacrifice. The hymn was written by Henry Washburn, a businessman, attorney, and occasional poet. Though they share a surname and might be part of the same extended family, we did not find evidence that Henry and Emory were immediate relatives.
On a preservation note, it looks as though this item has a bit of foxing, which is the discoloration that is visible on the surface. Foxing is a type of paper deterioration, and it gets its name from the “fox-like” reddish-brown color of the staining. From the American Institute for Conservation, foxing is “due to the metal in papermaking machines, iron in the water source, dirt or pollution, there may be traces of metal dispersed among the paper fibers. When the paper absorbs moisture, the metal traces begin to oxidize in those areas, causing disintegration and discoloration. This creates an acidic environment, which also encourages mold growth.” Exposure to high humidity and dampness can cause foxing, so remember to always store all documents in a cool, dry, place!
Take a closer look at this broadside on DSpace, and our very best wishes for a happy and safe Fourth of July!