Today in 1788, there was an interesting event in Philadelphia, celebrating the ratification of the then-new U.S. Constitution. There was a parade, both for Independence Day and the Constitution, and it was known as the Grand Federal Procession. It was put on with only two weeks of planning, principally by Francis Hopkinson, who had been a signer of the Declaration of Independence. But he also had help from Benjamin Franklin Bache, Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Alexander Reinagle (a musician, who wrote the Federal Grand March in a matter of days,” artist Charles Wilson Peale (who provided flags of all America’s allies, and also “representatives from forty-four trades and professions set aside their daily routine and paid livelihoods in order to prepare their own parade entries.” The parade was fairly elaborate, and an Order of Procession details all of the groups that marched in it.
A building as built in just four days, and was known as the Grand Federal Edifice. It was in the parade, sitting “on a carriage drawn by ten white horses. This building was in the form of a dome supported by 13 Corinthian columns, raised on pedestals proper to that order; the freize decorated with 13 stars. Ten of the columns complete, but three left unfinished. On the top of the dome was a handsome cupola
surmounted by a figure of plenty bearing a cornucopia. This elegant building was begun and finished in the short space of four days, by Messrs. William Williams and Co. The grand edifice was followed by architects and house carpenters, in number 450, carrying insignia of the trade.”
The event as very popular, and apparently around 17,000 people watched the parade and took part in the days’ celebrations. It was so popular that those who didn’t attend it, but had heard about it, were able to read about it in a pamphlet published shortly afterwards, and was written by people who were there, including Hopkinson and Rush, whose was a medical doctor whose idea of temperance was such that he was in favor of beer and wine as temperance drinks, but was against hard liquor or spirits. He even created a “Moral and Physical Thermometer” based on his beliefs. So after 20+ pages describing the days’ festivities, he penned this “In Honour of American Beer and Cyder.”
In Honour of American BEER and CYDER.
It is hereby recorded, for the information of strangers and posterity, that 17000 people assembled on this Green, on the 4th of July, 1788, to celebrate the establishment of the Constitution of the United States, and that they separated at an early hour, without intoxication or a single quarrel. They drank nothing but Beer and Cyder. Learn, reader, to prize those invaluable FEDERAL liquors, and to confider them as the companions of those virtues which can alone render our country free and respectable.
Learn likewise to despise
Spiritous Liquors, as
anti-federal; and to consider them as the companions of all those vices which are calculated to dishonour and enslave our country.”
You can read more about this interesting event in Grand Federal Procession of 1788: Unity on whose behalf?, The Federal Procession of 1788, and What was the Federal Procession of 1788?
Brewers, naturally, took part in the parade, and their contingent was described in the pamphlet as follows:
A similar sentiment, which called on consumers to buy American-made products, was expressed by the slogan that the brewer Luke Morris carried on his standard: “Home Brew is Best.” Reuben Haines led the brewers’ contingent. Barley stalks sprouted from the men’s hats, and they each held poles with banners depicting hops, malt shovels, and mashing oars.
You can read the entire pamphlet as a pdf.