The Bush Declaration
The 1st Declaration of Independence
By James Schiaffino

    “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America”.

    This prediction was made by founding father and future president John Adams in a letter written to his wife Abigail. It refers to The Declaration of Independence, the one composed by Thomas Jefferson. This might come as a surprise to most people but it was not the first. Also it was signed on July second, not the fourth.

    As it turns out, nearly 100 other “declarations of independence” had already been issued in the months leading up to 4 July 1776, by states, towns, counties, and assorted other bodies. These “declarations” took a variety of forms. Some were formal written instructions for congressional delegations. Others were legislative acts that officially ended British rule in individual colonies. Rhode Island legislature declared its independence from Great Britain on 4 May, the first colony to do so.

    The first place to formally declare independence from Great Britain, however, was not Rhode Island. It was Bush Town, the capital of Harford County, Maryland. On 22 March 1775, 34 prominent men from Harford county met at the Bush Tavern to declare their support for the growing desire for independence from Great Britain. From this meeting ‘The Bush Declaration’ was adopted.

The Bush Declaration

    “We, the Committee of Harford County, having most Seriously and Maturely Considered the Resolves and Association of the Continental Congress, and the Resolves of the Provincial Convention, do most heartily approve of the same, and as we Esteem ourselves in a more particular manner intrusted by our Constituents to see them carried into Execution, we do most solemnly pledge ourselves to each other, and to our country, and engage ourselves by every tie held sacred among mankind, to perform the same at the risque of our lives and fortunes.”

    The last line found its way into the Declaration of Independence, We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” (In addition to being the first declaration, the Bush Declaration is also quite possibly be the longest single sentence in the English language.) The Bush Tavern The Bush Declaration was signed at the Bush Tavern in Bush Town. At that time, Bush Town consisted of several homes, two taverns, several mills and a tannery. Bush was also the home of nearby Cokesburry College the largest Methodist college in the colonies. Bush Town was the center of activity in Harford County and Bush Tavern was the center of activity in Bush Town. The Tavern is still standing and is the second oldest building in the county. The Bush Tavern was a

stagecoach stop on what was originally called The Great Eastern Highway. The Great Eastern was the major conduit of information for the colonies from Alexandria Virginia to New York, New York. The Great Eastern Highway was not what we would refer to as a highway or even a road today, it was essentially an old Indian path and catered primarily to riders on horseback. After it was widened to accommodate carriage trade (buckboards and stagecoaches; the 18th century version of pickup trucks and buses) the name was changed to The Post Road. Now mail (Post) and other packages that could not be shipped by water used the road.

    It was the route used by the Comte de Rochambeau and his army on his way to Yorktown and the one Tench Tilghman used to carry the news of the British surrender at Yorktown to the Assembly in Philadelphia. Washington and his army used Route 1, a parallel road several miles west of the Old Post Road. In the 19th century its name was changed again to the Philadelphia Road. (Locals still refer to it as Old Philadelphia Road instead of MD Route 7.) The Stage Coach Stop

    Travel by stagecoach was an adventure. It cost $4 plus $4 for 150 lbs of luggage. Frequently passengers would disembark to fill ruts and holes in the road with saplings, dirt and other bracken. When the stagecoach approached a hill the passengers would again disembark and walk along with the coach as the horses strove to crest the hill. If the hill was steep it was not unusual for the passengers to lend a hand and help to push the wagon uphill. In the winter, passengers would be covered with hats, heavy coats, woolen mittens, wool socks, boots, topped off with blankets leaving only their eyes uncovered. Still it was preferable to travel by stagecoach.





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