Hezekiah Ford Douglass, African-American orator

Hezekiah Ford Douglass was born a slave about 1831, in Rockbridge County, Virginia. In the late 1840s he escaped from Louisiana and came north. He was a great admirer of Frederick Douglass, with whom he often lectured, and took the same spelling of his last name in honor of him. “One contemporary described him as having ‘a physique so noble and a presence so attractive as to charm and interest the listener at once.’” (Roger D. Cunningham) On February 9th and 10th, 1859, both Frederick Douglass and H. Ford Douglass spoke in Rockford to...

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A Belvidere 4th of July, 1865

July 4, 1865 was the scene of a triumphant celebration in Belvidere. The Civil War had just ended in April, with victory for the North; Belvidere, like many other cities, was full of jubilant patriotism and pride for its soldiers. The festivities that day were ones to remember. According to the newspaper, between 5,000 and 6,000 people were present for the day’s activities, so many that most had to sit on the ground (and even up in trees!) during the main program. The celebration started with a parade, which featured a wagon of young ladies...

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Independence Day in early Rockford

Here we are, looking forward to celebrating a “Glorious Fourth,” the Independence Day of the United States of America. July 4, 1837, the citizens of Rockford celebrated with a cannon salute. The “cannon” was produced by drilling a large hole in a blacksmith’s anvil, filling it with powder, and firing. Not just once, but repeatedly. The noise was sufficient to satisfy the citizenry, who added the noise of their guns and pistols. A hickory liberty pole was erected on East State Street, with patriotic exercises held...

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