Today is Thursday, July 3, 1919.

Independence Day will be celebrated as usual in Philadelphia.

The Liberty Bell will be taken out of its glass case and moved out into the square.

About 4,000 school children will parade from Broad and Spring Garden streets to Independence Hall, accompanied by men of the armed forces, home from the World War that ended five months ago.

There will be a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and patriotic songs and a “Dance of the Allies” by the children.

But a grim atmosphere overshadows the event. The entire Philadelphia police force is on duty, because of fears of possible bombings of government buildings and patriotic celebrations.

Persons described as anarchists or radicals or revolutionists have been creating havoc for weeks, causing much damage and a few injuries, and spreading fear. In April, 36 bombs were mailed to the homes of government officials, newspaper editors and prominent businessmen all over the country.

In June, nine huge bombs exploded nationwide, including two in Philadelphia, at Our Lady of Victory Church at 54th and Vine and a home at 57th and Locust.

July 4 is an obvious target, so government buildings and homes of important citizens are under guard, as are several West Philadelphia churches whose rectors have received threatening letters.

Citizens’ worries about bombings haven’t abated the demand for Fourth of July fireworks. A stand selling fireworks at 15th and South Penn Square accidentally exploded this afternoon, causing a bomb scare in City Hall.

There is not as much worry about injuries from fireworks as in the past, because the government has been controlling explosives during the European war. Also, local law this year limits firecrackers to five inches in length.

There will be many neighborhood celebrations. In an unusual gathering, clergymen from all religious denominations that existed in Philadelphia at the time of the Revolution will lead day-long ceremonies with members of patriotic organizations at Old Pine Presbyterian Church.

Also, the annual three-day convention of the Migratory Casual and Unemployed Workers is in town. (They’re hobos.)

Rosenbach’s shop of rare books and such at 1320 Walnut St. is advertising for sale what is claimed to be the only known original copy of the Declaration of Independence in private hands. The price is $160,000. (For comparison, President Woodrow Wilson’s salary is $75,000.)

Despite July 4 activities and anarchist threats, life goes on. The police warn that although wartime prohibition of alcoholic beverages is expected to be lifted soon, current liquor laws will be enforced. The 18th Constitutional amendment, mandating prohibition of all manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors, will become law on Jan. 16th.

The newspapers are following wireless messages from the British dirigible R-34. It was 400 miles off the Atlantic coast last night, attempting to prove the possibility of air travel across the ocean.

Word from England is that there were cheers in Parliament when Prime Minister Lloyd George expressed gratitude to the United States for its assistance in defeating Kaiser Wilhelm’s German forces.

Americans present were annoyed; they considered U. S. participation more a rescue than a help.

And at home, on this July 3, a crowd will gather outside the Inquirer building at 10th and Market streets at 4 p.m., where a man with a megaphone will announce every round as reports come by telegraph from Toledo, Ohio, where Jack Dempsey will fight champion Jess Willard for the heavyweight title.

Visit columnist Jim Smart’s web site at

comments powered by Disqus