Declaring Independence: Then & Now; Reconsidering the Promises of the Declaration of Independence

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What: A 40  minute performance piece in which a narrator and cast bring to life the Declaration of Independence followed by a community conversation and refreshments

When: Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m.

Where:  First Parish Church United, 48 Main St., Westford


This event is presented as a collaborative venture by the Westford Historical Society, the First Parish Church United and Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area.

What did the Declaration of Independence mean to citizens of 1776? What meanings does it hold for us today? The thought provoking public performance piece, Declaring Independence: Then & Now, seeks to explore these questions through an animated reading of our “American Scripture” presented by living history re-enactors.  As the 18th century words and ideas are performed, a narrator probes their meaning and challenges the audience to consider their relevance and power for today.

“Too often the Declaration of Independence is reduced to the single line, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…,” notes historian Mary Fuhrer. “Yet the document is rich with meaning on many levels. It expresses what many Americans by 1776 had come to believe: that Britain’s king and Parliament had violated our fundamental rights, that we were justified in abolishing such a flawed government, and that we were entitled – and determined – to create a new and better nation. It also asserts truths that transcend time: that governments derive their power from the people, with the purpose of securing their liberty and guaranteeing their equality. The history of our nation has been, and continues to be, the story of our struggle to redeem and defend those promises for all.”

Declaring Independence: Then & Now is part of a multi-year joint initiative of Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area and the American Antiquarian Society to engage citizens in the ideas and transformative potential of the Declaration of Independence. This initiative includes researching the ways in which independence was conceived and debated within colonial communities in the years leading up to 1776; tracing how the Declaration’s role evolved in American communities; and considering the challenges and potential of this living document for Americans today.

The performance will take place at the historic First Parish Church United, located adjacent to the Westford Town Common.  The event is free and suitable for ages 8 and up.  For further details, residents can visit or contact (978) 772-3654.