The Fourth of July is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues or picnics, and family gatherings; however, sometimes in all of the commotion and celebration, the true meaning of this day is oftentimes forgotten. This day of our country’s Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, July 4, 1776, was fought for by our own ancestors – the day we commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence – the day that we celebrate our freedom.
Our Revolutionary War Patriot
According to my research, we have three Larcom ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. One of them, recently approved by the National Daughters of the American Revolution, was my fifth great-grandfather, Jonathan Larcom (1742-1778/9).
Jonathan was born in Beverly, Massachusetts in 1742. He was the grandfather to Lucy Larcom, the author and poetess, but he died many years before she was born, in 1778/9, when her father, Benjamin Larcom was only two-years-old. In fact, at the time of his death, he and his wife, Abigail Ober, had eight children. He was a sea captain, as many men were in the town of Beverly, and he was also a farmer. I assume that he and his family lived on his grandfather’s estate, tending the farm there.
He joined the War of the Revolution on July 25, 1776 at 34 years of age, serving Captain Joseph Rea’s Company in defense of Sea Coast. He was ordered to serve at the lines of Beverly. He was formally discharged October 28, 1776, but then engaged in privateering for the War where he met his death in Guadalupe, West Indies. 1 From what I have researched, he died aboard the brigantine Neptune, commanded by Captain John Ashton, in 1779. 2
Jonathan joined the War of the Revolution after the first Fourth of July, and the war continued on until 1783. The hardships and sacrifices of those who waged in the War of Our Revolution were extreme; however, their victory was a triumph of ideals that ultimately defined America.
The way we celebrate the Fourth of July today shows the enthusiasm that our country felt then at gaining its Independence. In a letter to his wife, Abigail on July 2, 1776, John Adams (our second President of the United States) wrote of the plans for the signing of the Declaration of Independence,
“It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all of the Means. And, that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction.” 3
- Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: A Compilation from the Archives, prepared and published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth in accordance with chapter 100 page 511. ↩
- Beverly Privateers in the American Revolution, pg 404 by Howe, Octavius T. (Octavius Thorndike). ↩
- The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142. ↩