4th Oregon Style"
July 5th 1841, Nisqually, Oregon Territory
Guest writer Mr. Vaughn Longanecker
very first Fourth of July celebrated west of the Rockies was probably
the most significant but least remembered. It was prophetic,
visionary, hopeful, evangelical, patriotic, and established precedents
and standards to this day, yet few take advantage of this heritage
because few know, give thanks, or reap from this vast store house.
Consider the monument once established for
us at great sacrifice. Consider that each Fourth of July in the
Northwest should begin with a reading and thanks giving for the
bridges once built for our ease of freedoms passage:
From "The Conquerors"
written by Atwoods, we read an account of the very
first "4th of July":
July 5th 1841, Nisqually, Oregon Territory
under 1812 joint occupancy agreement of USA and Great Britain:
first Fourth of July celebration held in North America, west of the
Rocky Mountains, was that inaugurated by Captain Wilkes and the
missionaries (sent north by Jason Lee at Salem mission) July 5th, 1841
at Nisqually. In describing it, Captain Wilkes says:
'Wishing to give the crew a holiday, they
were allowed to barbecue an ox, which the Hudson Bay Co. sold me.
The place selected was one corner of Mission Prairie. All was
bustle and activity on the morning of the 5th, as the 4th fell on
Sunday.' (They revered the Lord's Day as more important than the
4th, so moved the celebration to the 5th, quite a contrast from today,
but then you will see many sad contrast in this text.)
'The men were mustered on the deck in clean
white frocks and trousers. It was very gratifying to me to see
them marching, their clothes as white as snow, with their happy and
contented faces. Two brass howitzers were carried to the prairie
to fire the usual salutes. The procession stopped at Fort
Nisqually and gave three cheers, which were returned with a few
'Dr. McLoughlin was expected to join us,
but, having lost his way, did not arrive until the next day.'
were present on this notable occasion over five hundred people, viz.:
About sixty persons embracing naval officers, missionaries, and men
from the Hudson Bay Co. trading post; one hundred marines, and about
four hundred Indians. Captain Wilkes was the officer of the day.
Prayer was offered by Dr. Richmond. The Declaration of Independence
was read by the sergeant of marines. The Scriptures were read by
Captain Wilkes. Two songs were sung, viz., "The Star-Spangled
Banner" and "My Country, 'Tis of Thee",...'
oration of the day was delivered by Dr. Richmond:'
"...We entertain the belief that the whole of this magnificent region of county so rich in the bounties of nature, is destined to become a part of the American Republic...
The time will come when these hills and
valleys will be peopled by our enterprising countrymen, and when they
will contain cities and farms and manufacturing establishments, and when
the benefits of home and civil life will be enjoyed by the
people... They will assemble on the 4th of July as
we have done to-day and renew their fidelity to the principles of
liberty embodied in the "Declaration of Independence," that we
have heard read to-day... The future years will witness wonderful
things in the settlement, the growth, and development of the United
States, and especially of this coast. The growth may embrace the advance
of our dominion to the frozen regions of the North, (Alaska) and south to
the narrow strip of land that separates us from the lower half of the
American continent (Panama, remember we possessed it for nearly 100 years and
paid dearly for the Suez Canal and should still possess it, but than
Israel should have conquered all of the "Promised Land").
In this new world there is sure to arise one of the greatest nations of the earth... Your names and mine may not appear in the records, (they should be known by every school child and every parent teaching their child, Joshua 4:6,21-24) but those of our descendants will... The illustrious founders of the American Republic declared against the union of the Church and State; in this they did well, yet it is undeniably true that the world's civilization of to-day is inseparably connected with the religion of Christ, and it could not survive if the Christlife and Spirit were eliminated from it... Our mission to these children of the forest (Indians) is to so teach them the truth of the gospel that they shall be fitted for the responsibilities of intelligent Christian citizenship... We are here also to assist in laying the foundation stones of a great American commonwealth on these Pacific shores."
In Atwoods' book, "The Conquerors", from which the above was taken, the author goes on to point out some of the significance of this event;
1st First of it's kind,
2nd Diversity of attendants, yet the large number of Indians present,
3rd Prophetic nature of the event.
He goes on to describe the memorial that took place and the plaques that were erected in July 5th, 1906.
May I point out that, you will not hear such a blend of patriotism and evangelism at the secularist 4th of July barbecue nor in the pulpit.
This christening upon the last frontier, the last domain (Gen 1:28) was not only significant because it was first, but because it put God first and recognized that this country came into existence because it put God first, and that this Northwest was first established for the Gospel and that as long as it continued to do so that this land would be "fitted for the responsibilities of intelligent Christian citizenship".
I dare say, we have separated our connection "with the religion of Christ, (thus, we will) not survive (because) the Christlife and Spirit (have been) eliminated".
Take heart, the renewal and revival can yet come again to a dark people "of the forest".
May this rejuvenate your vision for the Northwest and your family,
May we bless God so that He may bless America.
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