In 2026 the United States will be celebrating its Semiquincentennial or 250th birthday. The Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on July 4, 1776.
More recently, in July 2016, the US Congress signed into law the United States Semiquincentennial Commission Act, which created the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and started the ten year advanced planning process for the events and celebrations that will take place throughout 2026.
Of course, the Second Continental Congress and its Declaration of Independence helped to set in motion the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). So it’s no surprise that the American Battlefield Trust which preserves so many of the Revolutionary War battlefields (as well as those of the Civil War and the War of 1812) was put forward by the Department of the Interior to serve as the official nonprofit partner, or administrative secretariat, of the Semiquincentennial Commission.
The American Battlefield Trust has just announced a new president, David N. Duncan, who takes over in October. I think he’s going to have his hands full because it must be a safe bet that in addition to the celebrations of 2026, there will be a trail of major Revolutionary War anniversary events, re-enactments and media/cultural attention, over the following years.
One by one, the 250-year spotlight will focus on events like the Delaware River Crossing & Trenton, NJ (Dec 2026); Fort Ticonderoga (Jul 2027); Saratoga & Brandywine Creek (Sep/Oct 2027); Valley Forge (winter 2027/8 & 2028/9); Capture of Savannah (Dec 2028); Capture of Charleston (May 2030); Cowpens (Jan 2031) and Yorktown (Oct 2031)…. with a multitude of small battles and events scattered geographically and chronologically along the way.
Rather like the recent 75th ‘Liberation Trail’ following the WW2 events through Europe, there’s going to be a lot to look forward to in the late 2020s!
Slightly closer at hand is the 2026 Semiquincentennial, and we already know a couple of planned events.
Charleston and South Carolina are planning battle re-enactments and festivities. It’ll be a major year for Charleston because it’s also the city’s 350th anniversary and the 250th anniversary of the College of Charleston.
And in Philadelphia – the centre of attention – they have tree planting and a Major League Baseball All-Star Game in the diary. They are also preparing a time capsule to be buried on July 4, 2026. It is scheduled to be dug up again on the Quincentennial – July 4, 2276 – the 500th anniversary of US Independence.
I don’t think you & I will be around to see that!
Image: John Trumbull’s painting, Declaration of Independence, depicting the five-man drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence presenting their work to the Congress. The original hangs in the US Capitol rotunda. (Public Domain)