Centennials: The Great Birthday Squabble

Gallants attend, and hear a friend, Thrill forth harmonious ditty, Strange things I'll tell, which late befell,

In Philadelphia city.

—The Battle of the Kegs

Were Francis Hopkinson alive today, he would have found ample material for a ditty on the battle for Bicentennial City in 1976 instead of a spoof on the British Army's panic in 1778.

As Great Society planners saw it back in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson appointed the 35-member American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, the year 1976 was to be no ordinary national birthday party. Instead of creating battlefield...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!