America 250


By Laurie Paolicelli

Independence Day is upon us, a reminder that in 2026 America will commemorate 250 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of a new country dedicated to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

To observe this momentous occasion, the U.S. Semi-quincentennial Commission (Semi-Quinn) was established by Congress, encouraging Americans to remember our past, celebrate the present, and look forward to a promising future.

The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) is the agency appointed by Governor Cooper with the leadership of the commemoration for the state. The Department is working hard now to partner with towns and counties throughout North Carolina to accomplish the commemorative’s lofty goals.

Wide ranging activities celebrating the American Revolution will begin this year, all the while looking ahead to 2026. Events will continue through 2033 to reflect our state’s Revolutionary history.

Hillsborough played an important role in the American Revolution.

All tributes will focus on three broad concepts including visions of; freedom gathering of voices, and common ground.

First, and most importantly, the American Revolution marked North Carolinian’s journey towards freedom. Political, military, and social Revolutionary-era leaders, all of whom took bold steps to stand up to British rule, will be celebrated. Highlighted as well will be the essential movements since that time whose goal has been to expand those freedoms for all, including the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Suffrage, and even developments both scientific and industrial.

Since North Carolina is constituted by a chorus of voices, this commemoration cannot be told through a single lived experience. The historic and contemporary stories of all North Carolinians serve to inspire others to take innovative steps towards a “More Perfect Union,” and to ensure that all voices are clearly heard.

All of us are students, witnesses, and makers of history. The ground we share — our common ground — carries with it our stories of struggle, creation, and connection to one another. From battlefields to the natural world, we can find evidence of our struggles, rebirth, and growth.

Theodore Johnson, contributing columnist to the Washington Post, writes that “the semi quincentennial marks the founding, but the anniversary belongs to today. A nation endures and improves only because living people insist on it. We commemorate the work and sacrifices of those who came before us; no need for a “birthday party.” It’s the ideal moment to take pride in the progress the United States has made since its inception, to reckon with the ways — historical and contemporary — that the nation has fallen short and deliberate on and affirm a shared aspiration of who we will be: a more perfect union, or a house divided.”

The 250th anniversary is a time to aspire to a better America, inspired by the people who gave their hearts, minds and lives to ensure that we, today, have that opportunity.

Franklin Street signs and Welcome Downtown Chapel Hill sign


Chapel Hill’s downtown main thoroughfare, Franklin Street, is named for Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin’s role in the American Revolution was characterized by diplomatic skill, political acumen, and ability to foster international alliances. His contributions were vital to the success of the American quest for independence.

Hillsborough, North Carolina, played a significant role in the American Revolution. Here’s a brief history lesson it might be nice to know:

  • Before the Revolution, Hillsborough was a focal point of the Regulator Movement (1766-1771), a rebellion against colonial officials who were considered corrupt and oppressive. The movement culminated in the Battle of Alamance, which, although defeated, laid the groundwork for revolutionary sentiments in the region.
  • Hillsborough is located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, which made it an important logistical and military center during the Revolutionary War.
  • The Third Provincial Congress held in August 1775 was hosted in Hillsborough, where crucial decisions were made regarding North Carolina’s stance towards independence. This congress also set up a provincial government and established a military defense for the colony.
  • In 1781, during the Southern Campaign, British General Lord Cornwallis occupied Hillsborough to rally Loyalist support, but his presence was short-lived due to the persistent resistance from local Patriot forces.

The Board of Orange County Commissioners officially adopted a resolution committing to observe this commemoration through the work of several of its departments. See their resolution here:

For information on Orange County’s proclamation and plans for programming, email Peter Sandbeck:

Laurie Paolicelli is executive director for the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, a position she has held since 2005. Laurie has worked in tourism and marketing for twenty-five years, having served in leadership roles in Houston and California convention and visitor bureaus. She is a native of the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN/Superior Wisconsin. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Communications from the University Wisconsin-Superior and graduate certification in Technology In Marketing from the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media.
This reporter can be reached at

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