In its early days, Notre Dame marked Independence Day with an on-campus celebration in conjunction with the end of the academic year. Accounts of two of the commemorations, found in Rev. Arthur Hope, C.S.C.’s retrospective “Notre Dame — 100 Years,” describe a fledgling campus community that nonetheless put its best foot forward to mark the holiday. In 1845, University founder Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., invited prominent citizens from around the area to attend a ceremony that featured a reading of the Declaration of Independence, a play and a speech from a University administrator (probably Father Sorin himself). The event went so well that it became an annual tradition, with townspeople from nearby South Bend and Mishawaka looking to Notre Dame for their Fourth of July entertainment, Hope writes.
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