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Celebrate Independence at Fort Delaware

Oliver King

Oliver King will deliver the Frederick Douglass speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” at Fort Delaware on Saturday July 6 at 3 p.m.

Narrowsburg, NY – The celebration of American independence is so monumental for Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial History in Narrowsburg that it couldn’t possibly be confined to just one day!

This year, Fort Delaware will offer special programming on three different days to mark the Independence Day holiday.

  • As part of the Bold Gold Media Speaker Series, on Thursday, July 4, Sullivan County Historian John Conway will present a program titled “A Settlement Divided,” examining how the inexorable march toward independence in 1776 effectively destroyed the Cushetunk settlement, so that by 1785 the first permanent European settlement in the Upper Delaware was largely abandoned. The program starts at 11 a.m. and is included in the price of admission to Fort Delaware.
  • Continuing the Bold Gold Media Speaker Series, on Saturday, July 6, performance artist Oliver King will deliver the impassioned Frederick Douglass speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” in which Douglass praises the Founding Fathers and their creation of the greatest nation on earth, but then admonishes, “The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” The program starts at 3 p.m. and is included in the price of admission to the Fort.
  • The following Saturday, July 13, is Patriots & Loyalists Day at the Fort, highlighted by the reading aloud of the Declaration of Independence, followed by a Tory response and interaction among the Cushetunk settlers, most of whom were content to remain under British rule. The readings will begin at 1 p.m. and will follow the presentation of The Delaware Company’s two annual awards, which takes place at noon.
    The James W. Burbank Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to local history during the previous year will be presented to Elsie Kopcha of Harris, who has been an active volunteer and generous benefactor to Fort Delaware. The award is named in honor of former Sullivan County Historian James W. Burbank, the man who conceived of and built Fort Delaware, opening it in 1957. Mr. Burbank’s daughter, Peggy McIntyre, will be on hand to help present the award.
    The Delaware Company’s President’s Award, which recognizes outstanding service to the field of local history over a period of years, will be presented this year to the Cochecton Preservation Society.

Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial History is located on the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway at 6615 Route 97 in Narrowsburg, NY. The Fort is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in June, September and October and Thursday thru Sunday in July and August.

For more information about the Fort and a schedule of special events, visit The Delaware Company’s website, or The Delaware Company’s Facebook page.