July Fourth, a nationwide celebration of independence, filled with barbecues, sunshine, and fireworks. All over the country, pranksters have been celebrating Independence Day in rambunctious ways since the nineteenth century.
In the town center of Dudley, Massachusetts sat a historic canon from the Revolutionary War. On Independence Day, local boys would fill the canon with paper, grass, and wet rags – along with tons of gunpowder. One boy would heat up a small blade and stick it in the canon, then they’d all run for cover, awaiting the ignition of the gunpowder.
The young boys of Haverhill, MA also found themselves involved with pranks on July Fourth. They would gather in the town common and build a huge bonfire. Many citizens gathered around the fire, blowing horns, dragging cowbells, and shooting guns into the sky. The police often arrived to quiet the noise, and many boys adorned vests covered with nails, sure to give their prosecutors a nasty surprise when they were caught.
In Moores Corner, Delaware, many young men would play pranks that “involved a combination of limit-testing behavior and tacit approval by village elders” and often took frightening turns. One such prank involved several young men lifting a farmer’s wagon onto the store roof — they would also be held responsible for taking the wagon off the roof.