, Newburyport, MA


September 4, 2013

As Port gets ready to celebrate 250 years

To the editor:

Next year is the 250th anniversary of the approval by the General Court of the petition to separate the “Waterside” community from Newbury, forming the town of Newburyport in 1764. Several weeks ago, several of us were taking a break from a day’s research in the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center and the conversation turned to the 2014 anniversary.

At the 1764 founding, tensions were rising over British policies in the Colonies, but the Revolutionary War was still years away. But now consider each of the next 50-year interval anniversaries.

1814 ─ 50th: The War of 1812 was raging. That year, after the defeat of Napoleon, the British turned their full attention to the conflict here. The battle of Baltimore Harbor and defense of Fort McHenry brought us the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The British made an unexpected move to Washington, D.C., where they burned the Capitol, the White House and other government buildings.

1864 ─ 100th: The Civil War raged on with the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor; the siege of Petersburg; and Sherman’s march through Georgia. Lincoln was re-elected.

1914 ─ 150th: World War I had started in Europe and the United States debated its own involvement in the war.

1964 — 200th: The violence of the Civil Rights movement continued, and escalating involvement in Vietnam had started.

Perhaps 2014 will bring us a peaceful year for our celebration.

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