Community Life

Fourth of July Celebrated First in New Brunswick

Col. John Neilson, commander of the local militia during the Revolutionary War

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - At noon on Sunday, July 9, New Brunswick officials will be unveiling a life-sized bronze statue in Monument Square of Col. John Neilson, commander of the local militia during the Revolutionary War.

Perfect timing for city officials to note that the Fourth of July holiday was first celebrated in New Brunswick by direct order of Gen. George Washington.

Even before that, New Brunswick had witnessed the third-ever public reading of The Declaration of Independence. After it was read in Philadelphia, it was sent to New York. It came first to New Brunswick, where it was given to Neilson, who pulled a table out of the White Hall Tavern on Albany Street and read it aloud to the gathered public. This was July 9, 1776.

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Neilson fought bravely in the Revolutionary War and represented New Jersey at the Continental Congress of 1778. Born at Raritan Landing near New Brunswick in 1745, his father, John Neilson, M.D., had come to this country from Belfast, Ireland. He was a good friend of Washington and Marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat and military leader

The statute of Neilson will sit directly across the street from Stage Left and Catherine Lombardi - a great new addition to the streetscape of this historic city - at 10 Livingston Ave. - celebrating 241 years of history.

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Resolve, Scotch Plains

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