Of Myth and History

Writer George Lippard was a delightful 19th-century eccentric who often took pleasure embarrassing the Philadelphia establishment. But he also knew how to wield his pen to improve sales. One of Lippard's essays in particular, The Fourth of July, 1776, fed the American appetite for a tidy myth. Had he lived long enough to enjoy its profound success, the often-contrary Lippard would have found this tale particularly ironic.

Time and place: Independence Hall, July 4, 1776. Patrick Henry gives his speech, "Give me Liberty or give me Death!" and fifty-six Founding Fathers are inspired to sign the Declaration of Independence. As the signing ceremony comes to a conclusion, a fragile, elderly man climbs the stairs of the bell tower. At the final flourish of a John Hancock's quill, a little blue-eyed boy swells his chest and runs to inform the elderly bell ringer. "Ring," he shouts in youthful infectious exuberance. [Read more...]

Joel Rose, Producer and Editor
Viet Le, Rachael Berenguer and Jennifer Lynn, Associate Producers
Elisabeth Perez-Luna, Executive Producer
Kenneth Finkel, Executive Director, Arts & Culture Service

Funding was provided by The William Penn Foundation.

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Marking Pennsylvania History

ExplorePAHistory.comEdward Hector
Over 5,000 black soldiers served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. They were slaves, indentured servants and free blacks -- all with an eye on greater liberty. WHYY's Viet Le has the story of Revolutionary War hero Ed Hector, and a few dedicated historians who are keeping his memory alive. [Listen]

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