Independence Day at Mount Independence

Living historians re-enact the reading of the Declaration of Independence by Col. Arthur St. Clair, which took place July 28, 1776. (Photo by Ennis Duling)

America now celebrates Independence Day on July 4th. In fact, this tradition is so ingrained that most of us call the holiday “The Fourth of July.” But the army on Lake Champlain in 1776 celebrated on a different day of the month.

On July 28, Colonel Arthur St. Clair read the document to the troops. St. Clair, commander of the Fourth Brigade, was a former British officer with an impressive military bearing and the education to do justice to soaring rhetoric. “God save the free independent States of America!” St. Clair called out at the end, and the soldiers responded with three cheers. An observer, whose name is lost to history, reported, “It was remarkably pleasing to see the spirits of the soldiers so raised, after all their calamities: the language of every man’s countenance was, Now we are a people; we have a name among the States of this World.” From that day forward, East Point, or Rattlesnake Hill took on its lasting name: Mount Independence. (Excerpt from Strong Ground: Mount Independence and the American Revolution)