America's Independence Day has long been celebrated with three days of lazy beach drinking and consuming the seared flesh of our subjugated wildlife. And while that's fun and all, the sad truth is that the USA has gotten STUPID SOFT.
You see, back in the day, the Fourth of July was more or less the holiday equivalent of smashing your own face with a beer bottle and uppercutting Benedict Arnold in the taint. And so, in the interest of making America great again, it's time to remind you of the total fucking anarchy your forefathers enjoyed in the name of balls-out patriotism.
#6. Massachusetts Used To Burn Itself Into Oblivion
Back before America was united, a bunch of superstitious chowdaheads took it upon themselves to hang a fuck-ton of people at the aptly-named Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts. Cut to a century later, and these rabid Bay Staters were using the same spot to burn effigies of religious figures for November's Pope Night celebrations, a practice which was eventually repurposed in the early 1900s to celebrate the Fourth of July by replacing "effigies" with "a shit-ton of hilariously flammable barrels."
Boston Public Library
Gallows Hill: home to the world's most confused ghosts
Yes, that's exactly what it looks like. Stacks of barrels 30 to 40 high, begging to be lit up like a medieval Burning Man centerpiece. And boy were they, no doubt to the drunken wails of many.
"How does this celebrate our independence, exactly?"
"SHUT UP, PINKO!"
Reaching heights of 130 feet, this fiery cask stack wasn't even a Salem exclusive, as most of the surrounding areas also held their own competing "fuck yous" to Smokey Bear.
What a kooky time, those 1960s were. Oh right, did I mention that this awesomeness was going on all the way into the '60s? Because it totally was. Heck, the only reason we stopped scorching the earth had nothing to do with the dangers of God-taunting wilderness blazes and everything to do with modern shipping -- as giant flammable barrels sort of fell out of style. For now.
Something to start fires AND get drunk with? It's win/win!
And somehow, this is but one of two cartoonishly giant fires on this list ...
#5. The Old West Partied ... With Dynamite!
Dynamite was a totally new invention in the 1800s, and the majestic ranges of the American West took to it like an Ecto-Cooler-drunk toddler in a bubble wrap factory. And no more explodier day was there than July Fourth, when celebrations kicked off with a town-waking blast of dynamite in the morning. No, seriously -- like a rooster's crow, the festivities of yesteryear started like the opening to Die Hard With A Vengeance. And if things didn't go great, they would equally end with an act of celebratory terrorism. For example, that time in 1884 when a Swan City mining company refused to supply fireworks for its employees ... who then retaliated by blowing up the post office instead.
NEVER come between a hard-working man and his pinwheel sparklers.
If blowing up a federal building seems a bit over-celebratory, consider that this was hardly the most apocalyptic explosion to befall a small Colorado town in the name of our Founding Fathers. Jump to the year 1901, on the 14,000-foot summit of Pike's Peak, where the locals spent July 3 building a special track for the sole purposes of delivering barrels of gasoline into bonfire embers. For what purpose, you might ask? Well ...
... according to the New York Times, it all went down when dozens of trucks filled with old lumber were brought to the mountain's peak, dumped into a 500-foot long pile, and covered in kerosene. Once the blaze was ignited and burned into embers, additional barrels of gasoline were rolled onto the mess and ultimately burst forth a 500-foot wall of hellfire on a peak already 14,000 feet above sea level -- creating a volcanic effect that was reportedly seen as far as 200 miles away, in areas like New Mexico and Cheyenne. Because it's not the Fourth unless strangers think they're in catastrophic danger.
And speaking of exactly that ...
#4. Military-Led Surprise Civil War Reenactments Happened (DURING The Civil War)
Imagine it's 2005 and you're sleeping off that "pre-Independence-Day fireworks testing / wine-chugging party" your family throws every year. Suddenly you're shaken by the sounds of sickening gunfire as men in uniform shout commands over the sound of wailing drones and tank explosions. You rush out of your house to find the U.S. Military playing a pretend game of war, to the absolute horror of everyone in your terrorism-panicked neighborhood. Dick move, right? Also totally a thing the army used to do ...
Florida State Archives
"Hey, the Constitution only says we can't crash on your couch."
What you're seeing is one such holiday "mock battle" conducted by veterans 30 years after the Civil War. And if that seems a wee bit fresh for reliving the deaths of your fellow soldiers, consider that the earliest fake Civil War battles occurred on July Fourth in 1861 and 1862 -- which, for you non-history-buffs, is smack dab in the middle of what they were recreating.
And somehow, this was the least weird part of celebrating our nation's independence as a Civil War soldier. Other battlefield festivities included binge drinking, funny costumes, and mule races. And in the 1900s, even Native Americans got in on the fun -- recreating the World War I victory against the Germans as early as July 4th, 1922.
Welch Dakota Papers
"No no, I'm telling you, Klaus didn't die like that. Way more pants shitting."
Along with scalp-dances and fake prisoners (played by real Germans), participants were treated to gambling and bull taunting, followed by some good ol' American hot dog eating. It's your basic Texas Fourth, with the slight exception that "hot dog" refers to actual cooked dogs. Which, in fairness, is still better than whatever horror goes down at Oscar Mayer.
And hey, speaking of being throbbing dicks to animals ...