July 4, 1894

“About 1,500 people attended the Farmers’ Alliance and People’s party Fourth of July celebration and picnic at Turrentine springs, west of town, coming from many miles around,” proclaimed the Escondido Times on July 5, 1894.

The one-paragraph article gave the names of the principal speakers and said they all “made speeches from the standpoint of Populist doctrine.” The proceeds of the picnic would go to the Populist campaign fund and “the lemonade and ice cream stand did a big business.” And that was the extent of its coverage.

The Poway Progress, in its report on the picnic a week later, had a bit more to say, calling the picnic a “great success.” The dispatch, written from Bernardo on July 5, noted that “Some apologies were heard for speaking on ‘politics’ on the 4th, but the general sentiment expressed was that no better day can be chosen for the promulgation of political principles than that day, which commemorates the greatest political event of modern times-the birth of a great, free and independent nation, founded on the principle that ‘all men are created free and equal.’”

That the nation was then in an economic depression was very much on the minds of everyone there, the article reported.

“The spectacle of thousands of workmen idle and starving in the midst of plenty attests to the fact that something is wrong in our civil institutions. Our laws protect and foster gigantic trusts and monopolies while denying protection and safety to the common people. Human life is evidently of less value in the eye of the ‘law’ than money or wealth, the product of human labor.”

The correspondent expressed the hope that the people, “becoming aroused to the true condition of things,” would “man the ‘ship of state,’ and pilot her out of the shoals and quicksands where she has gradually drifted under the management of the old parties….”

“What better or more appropriate themes,” the article concluded, “could engage the attention of rational, thinking, liberty-loving men and women, or what better day could be chosen for their promulgation than the ever glorious 4th?”

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