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Toasts for Independence
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A riotous drunkenness typically marked Independence Day celebrations in the first decades following the founding of the United States. Among the customs of such events was a series of toasts to entities of American democracy. Revelers toasted the day itself, the current president, and legislative bodies, and hopes for a better future. The toasts, which could include as many twenty, always included one to George Washington. The early years of the American Republic were also marked by intense and an openly hostile political climate pitting federalists against republicans. Federalists, whose strong-hold encompassed New England, pushed for a powerful central government. The republicans, largely supported in the South and western frontier areas, advocated for states rights and a weaker central government. This series of toasts reveals that the men in this party were of Federalist persuasion. The toasts strongly supported the Constitution and hoped the next president would unite "All Hearts", hinting at the great discord prevalent during Thomas Jefferson's republican administration. The final toast is a hope for the end to President Jefferson's embargo. Political opponents of the day spelled embargo backwards to read: o-grab-me. The final toast clearly refers to this jibe, in saying "When he, no more, shall grab us!"
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