Southern Oregon’s early Fourth of July celebrations were exuberant, all-day events, often livened by a group calling themselves the “Callithumpians.”
Callithump is an Americanism stretching back to 18th century England that refers to noisy groups that created humorous havoc to disrupt political rallies by playing loud, discordant instruments, including cowbells, tin horns, pots, pans, and saws.
In 1907, the Jacksonville, Ore., Callithumpians debunked Independence Day activities. Oregon Gov. George E. Chamberlain first delivered a serious patriotic speech and then joined the Callithumpian parade. He drove a carriage with local citizens dressed as “Uncle Sam,” “Miss Mehitable Hangtogether,” “George E. Chambermaid,” and “Retiring George Washington.”
Humorous skits and speeches followed the Callithumpian parade. A man wearing white gloves and dressed in his wife’s clothing read the “Decapendence of Indignation.” It ended by declaring all men “free to do nothing and equal to zero,” which was followed by a parody on Washington’s Farewell Address. A newspaper joined the fun, reporting the “Callithumpian police” had put the governor through the “third degree,” before calming the boisterous crowd and rescuing him.
Sources: "alphaDictionary.com." callithumpian; Dr. Goodword's Office, alphaDictionary.com, 2018, https://www.alphadictionary.com/goodword/word/callithumpian. Accessed 7 May 2018; "Jacksonville "Did Things Up Brown". Telegram, 6 July 1907; Newbury, Gus. "Eagle Had Reason to Scream When Jacksonville Citizens Celebrated Forty Years Ago." Medford Mail Tribune, 2 July 1947; Provost, Sarah C. "Callithumpian." Oxford Music Online; Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, 26 Nov. 2013, www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/search?q=Sarah+Provost&searchBtn=Search&isQuickSearch=true. Accessed 7 May 2018.