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SCHS is pleased to commemorate and celebrate the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2024-2026. This semiquincentennial offers us an opportunity to examine and discuss the American “experiment,” our society’s progress towards democracy, and take an inclusive approach to history and civic engagement. Join us over the next two years for events, discussions, exhibitions and more that celebrate and discuss our great republic!

Liberty Flag Raising

The Schenectady County Historical Society (SCHS) hosted a “Liberty Flag Raising” as our first event in their commemoration of America’s 250th birthday, or the United States Semiquincentennial.

On January 12, 2024 at 12pm, SCHS commemorated the 250th anniversary of the raising of the Liberty Flag in Schenectady. Michael Diana, SCHS Historian and Director of Education, explained the significance of the event, and what it commemorates:

“What is liberty and what must we do to secure it? These questions have both united and divided Americans throughout history. On the anniversary of the raising of the Liberty Flag, we invite the community to relive that historic moment and reflect on the essential questions of freedom. Indeed, one of Schenectady’s earliest and most significant reckonings with the idea of liberty was on January 12, 1774. On that day, an angry crowd of 50 citizens gathered in the center of town to raise a flag emblazoned with the word LIBERTY. This was a hugely confrontational form of protest. Their supporters applauded them as patriots. Their detractors derided them as a riotous mob. But thus did Schenectady enter the bitter controversies of a Revolution that would forge the modern United States of America.”

SCHS owns the only surviving “Liberty” flag from the Revolutionary War. The flag is believed to have been carried by a New York regiment in the Revolutionary War. Liberty flags weren’t unusual during the late colonial period, though their significance morphed from resistance to revolution over the decades.

The original Liberty Flag is currently on loan to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, PA, and will return to Schenectady for the United States Semiquincentennial in 2026.

City of Schenectady Historian, Chris Leonard, was instrumental in organizing this commemorative event. He added some historical context to the original event, noting:

“Prior to the raising of the Liberty Flag, colonial Schenectady was largely outside the revolutionary spirit that was engulfing the colonies. The 50 Schenectadians who raised the Liberty Flag on that blustery winter day led the town in its first steps in support of the Patriot cause.”

This was the first of many events that SCHS will sponsor over the next two years leading up to and beyond the anniversary of the United States Semiquincentennial.

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