Arts and Leisure

England Celebrates the Fourth of July, 1850

The English people — at least some of them — celebrated the Fourth of July in 1850, when Frederick Law Olmsted visited the country.

Frederick Law Olmsted by John Singer Sargent

Frederick Law Olmsted by John Singer Sargent

Olmsted was a 28-year-old journalist when he spent five months in England to visit public gardens. His father, a prosperous Hartford merchant, had helped him buy a farm on Staten Island, N.Y., and he was getting interested in landscape design. Olmsted wrote a book about his experiences, Walks and Talks of An American Farmer.

In the book, he wrote he had heard the United States talked about every day of his visit:

I do not recollect ever to have heard any expression of hostile feeling (except from a few physical-force Chartists, with regard to slavery) towards our government or our people, and only from a few stanch church-and-state men against our principles of government. Perhaps the highest eulogy on Washington ever put in words was written by Lord Brougham. The Duke of Wellington lately took part in a banquet in honor of American independence. I myself attended a Fourth-of-July dinner in an old palace of George III, and saw there a member of Parliament, and other distinguished Englishmen, drink to the memory of Washington, and in honor of the day. Having observed that Mr. Howard was threatened with a mob, for keeping an English ensign flying from a corner of the Irving House, I will add that I more than once saw the American ensign so displayed in England, without exciting remark; and I know one gentleman living in the country who regularly sets it over his house on the Fourth of July, and salutes it with gun-firing and festivities, so that the day is well known, and kindly regarded by all his neighbors, as “the American holiday.”



  1. Carol Downey

    July 4, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Biltmore Gardens.

  2. New England Historical Society

    July 4, 2014 at 6:11 pm


  3. Clare Silliman

    July 5, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Hoping to visit Shelburne gardens in Vermont this summer. His design.

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