Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July, 1889

Arthur Mellette, South Dakota's first Governor, with the first family -->

From Jon K. Lauck's Prairie Republic:

“On July 4, 1889, the weather in Sioux Falls was fair and clear. On the 113th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the city was already home to 12,000 people, approximately the population of Boston at the time of the American Revolution. During the 1889 Fourth of July celebration, Sioux Falls ‘entertained the largest crowd of people ever assembled at any one place in Dakota.’ The railroads ran special trains that transported an additional 9,000 people into the city, and horse-drawn carriages rolled in, carrying another 6,000. At sunrise, the city woke to the thunder of a forty-two-gun salute fired by the Sioux Falls Light Artillery company, the clang of the city’s church bells, and the wail of steam whistles. At 10 A.M., a holiday ceremony commenced, featuring speeches, music, an invocation by the Episcopalian bishop William Hobart Hare,

and the singing of ‘Hail Columbia.’ The festivities also included a parade, a baseball game at Base Ball Park, a band contest, tub races on the Big Sioux River, a greased-pole-climbing contest, a greased-pig contest, sack races, three-legged races, bicycle races, wheel-barrow races, horse races, and a grand balloon ascension featuring a man who would leap from the balloon basket in a parachute – all part of what the St. Paul Pioneer Press called a ‘monster celebration.’ The balloon ascension had to be delayed due to strong Dakota winds. When it was finally attempted, the wind caused an errant spark that sent the $450 balloon up in smoke, ‘a kind of ascension not fully satisfactory to the 5,000 spectators.’

At noon, after marching in the parade, the seventy-five delegates of the South Dakota constitutional convention gathered... The hall was festooned with American flags and red, white and blue bunting... Four large stars hung on the walls, symbolizing the four new states, including South Dakota, that were on the verge of entering the Union...

…The 1889 constitutional convention in Sioux Falls represented the culmination of a decade-long quest for Dakota statehood.”

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