History | July 4, 2022 1:53 pm

Meet the New Jersey Town Where George Washington Declared a July 4th Celebration

The history of a historical holiday

Piscataway, NJ
A marker commemorates Washington's time in Piscataway.
Zeete, CC BY-SA 4.0

A host of towns and cities across the United States hold celebrations commemorating the nation’s independence on the 4th of July. And in that case, the history of July 4th in Piscataway, a town in central New Jersey, is not unique. What is unique about it, however, is the origin of that town’s particular celebration. In 1778, a proclamation calling for a celebration was issued by a leader in the country’s military — one George Washington.

Why Piscataway? As the town’s historical museum, the Metlar-Bodine House Museum notes, it was because Washington was camped in the area with around 11,000 soldiers. Washington proclaimed the 4th of July to be a national holiday — and it’s been a claim to fame for Piscataway ever since.

More of that history might soon be available for visitors to see. In an article at NJ.com, Linda O’Brien explored the efforts underway to renovate and expand the museum — including a dedicated space to display a wall from Ross Hall, the home that Washington used as his base, and from where he wrote the proclamation establishing the 4th of July as a national holiday.

It’s a part of history that might soon return to the spotlight. The article notes that the museum is hopeful to have a new gallery focusing on the 4th of July ready for dedication in a year’s time.