How Ipswich celebrated the end of the Revolutionary War

General George Washington’s order declaring an end to hostilities was read to the Continental Army eight years to the day after the Battle of Lexington, and included instructions that “an extra ration of liquor is to be issued to every man tomorrow to drink to Perpetual Peace, Independence and Happiness to the United States of America,” On April, 1783, celebrations were held throughout the new country to mark the end of the war. The celebration in Ipswich was recorded in “The Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL. D“:1

“April l, (1783), Tues. News of Peace between America and Great Britain.

“April 29, Tuesday. This day was appointed to celebrate the return of Peace. The whole town being desired to assemble at Mr. Frisbie’s2 Meeting House in Ipswich, at 10 o’clock, and a committee having waited on the several ministers, desiring their attendance, I set out from here at 8 o’clock, in company with Captain Dodge and thirty or forty of the parish, who waited on me for this purpose.

“At 10 o’clock the people assembled in the Meeting House, which was exceedingly crowded. The Proclamation from Congress being read, Mr. Cleaveland3 made a short prayer, an anthem was sung, and an elegant oration delivered by Mr. Frisbie, after which an anthem was sung, and the congregation dismissed. Thirteen cannon were fired.

“At 2 o’clock an elegant, plentiful collation of cold hams, bacon, tongues, fowls, veal, etc., was spread on two very long tables on the green, at which all the people partook. This collation was the free donation of the people, which every one through the town, who pleased, sent ready cooked. There was also given a great plenty of spirits and other liquors. When those who came first to the table had dined, thirteen toasts were given by the High Sheriff, and thirteen cannon were discharged for several of the first, and for the rest a smaller number.

“In the evening very handsome fireworks were played off — a large number of sky-rockets, serpents, crackers, wheel- works, etc. Many gentlemen illuminated their houses, which appeared very beautiful, and the whole exercises of the occasion were performed with the greatest good order and decorum. Every countenance was smiling, and no intemperance was perceived even among the lowest class. And thus this joyful day concluded, without the smallest accident, to universal satisfaction, and much to the honor of the town. There was given, of the article of meat, between twenty-one and twenty-two hundred weight, and one hundred dollars in money. This day was eight years and ten days from the commencement of the war.”4


  1. Manasseh Cutler (May 13, 1742 – July 28, 1823) was influential in the passage of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and as a member of the United States House of Representatives wrote the section prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory. From 1771 until his death, he was pastor of the Congregational church in what was the parish of Ipswich, Massachusetts until 1793, now Hamilton. During the War of Independence, he served as chaplain to the 11th Massachusetts Regiment, General Jonathan Titcomb’s brigade and in General John Sullivan’s expedition to Rhode Island. In December 1787, a group of Revolutionary War veterans and adventurers organized by Cutler set out from Ipswich on an 800-mile journey through the wilderness by horseback and rafts to establish the first settlement in the Ohio Territory.
  2. Rev. Levi Frisbie, born at Branford, Conn., 1748, entered Yale College, 1767. where he remained three years, then graduated at Dartmouth, 1771, in the first class graduated at that institution. He was ordained a missionary to the Indians, 1772, but was prevented from performing this service by sickness and the Revolutionary War. He was installed at Ipswich, 7th February, 1776, successor of Rev. Nathaniel Rogers, and was an able and successful minister, and an earnest patriot. When the tidings of peace came, in 1783, he was selected by the town to deliver an oration, which was published, as was his Eulogy of Washington, in 1800. Mr. Frisbie died February 25, 1806, aged 58 years.
  3. Rev. John Cleaveland (1722-1799) was an early leader in the “Separatist” Christian movement, an evangelical revival born out of the First Great Awakening of the 1730s-40s. Refusing to repent for attending a Separatist meeting, he was expelled from Yale college in 1745. Subsequently he served at the Separatist church in the Chebacco precinct of Ipswich, also known as the Fourth Church in Ipswich, at which he was ordained in 1747. Rev. Cleaveland also served as a military chaplain in 1758-59 at Ticonderoga and Louisburg during the French and Indian War, and later with American forces during the Revolutionary War. He passed away in 1799, having pastored the Chebacco Church for 52 years.
  4. The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America and Canada on September 3, 1783, officially ended the American Revolutionary War
  5. Featured image: “Celebrations of American Independence in Boston and Watertown, Massachusetts,” by unknown artist.

4 thoughts on “How Ipswich celebrated the end of the Revolutionary War”

  1. That was quite a celebration. How exciting it must have been for the whole tow to partake. Thanks for the interesting article.

  2. Hi Gordon,

    That is a charming account of how the end of the Revolutionary War was celebrated in Ipswich, with pomp, good food, and spirits.

    The town is fortunate that Rev. Cutler recorded the event for posterity.

  3. “. . . fortunate that Rev. Cutler recorded the event for posterity” and the town is equally fortunate that Gordan finds and presents these gems to us. Thank you Gordon.

  4. Thanks Mr. Harris. Always good to see information about Manasseh Cutler. I have a new chapter on him written well after my 1976, Hamilton, MA history, and I have written about him at the suggestion of Henry Steele Commager, in a number of other books, after we interviewed in 1985. Of course I have reviewed McCullough’s recent book which also touches on Cutler, etc. Actually some of Cutler’s descendants are also mine (distantly) via the Bartletts of Beverly, MA, who went to Ohio. Donald W. Beattie in Winthrop, ME; formerly of Hamilton, MA.

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