Happy 4th of July from NYRB!
Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-naming in the United States. Stewart wrote this instant classic during World War II as tribute to the varied heritage of the nation’s peoples. It is not only the authoritative source on its subject, nor a demonstration of one man’s love of America (and a good anecdote); it is also how we found out:
In 1830, Daniel Webster cried out, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!” However, by 1855, as disunion seemed imminent, there were eighty-nine places taking their name from “Union,” while “Liberty” had just thirty-seven (poor “Freedom” was the namesake of just thirteen, and those were mostly in the north). Further, “In 1862 Union touched one hundred ten. Liberty had added only seven; Freedom only one.”
If you were to add up all of the Liberty’s, Freedom’s, and Independence’s, they would not equal the Union’s.
However, there’s no Union Day, which we suspect Independence takes as some small consolation.
Whether you choose to celebrate liberty, freedom, justice (which apparently is a very unpopular choice of place name), or even union (you’d hardly be the first) tomorrow, we hope you’ll do it with Names on the Land and NYRB in mind.
July 3, 2012, 5 p.m.