When the latter route was reported, they marched off towards Lexington. Tradition says that at least some of this company served in Lexington in the early morning hours of the nineteenth. A company of Waltham soldiers was in the Battle of Bunker Hill and many served in the Continental Army. During the winter of 1775-76, which George Washington spent with the troops in Cambridge, he was entertained at the home of his friend, Cornet Nathaniel Bridge on Trapelo Road.
In 1776, the town voted to approve the Declaration of Independence, and in 1778 it voted to support the ratification of the Articles of Confederation. Jonas Dix, Esq. and Capt. Jonas Clarke were elected as delegates to the Constitutional Convention. When the new constitution was sent to the state for ratification the Waltham delegate to the Massachusetts Convention, Leonard Williams, was one of a minority from Middlesex County who voted in favor of it.
In 1789 two distinguished citizens of the infant Republic passed through Waltham along the Great Country Road. In April Vice President-elect John Adams stopped at the Stratton Tavern on Weston St. for breakfast as he journeyed from Boston to New York to his inauguration. In October President George Washington was escorted through Waltham and Watertown to Cambridge by the Waltham Cavalry Troop.
Holidays during the early years of the nineteenth century provided a touch of
excitement for our local citizens. On the Fourth of July, parades would be held, bells rung and cannons fired. October 19th, the anniversary of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, was a major holiday. Ellen Lane, a resident of Waltham during this period, described October 19th as ”...a great day, not only for us, but all the country around. All roads led to Waltham that day and the people would come early in all kinds of vehicles and stay during the day. Bakers' carts, packed with pies, gingerbread and seed cakes, and venders of candy, popped corn and peanuts were on the grounds all day. The great attraction was the military gathering. Some stalwart young man would impersonate Lord Cornwallis. Then came the British redcoats, the old Continentals, and the trained militias...They would all join the parade through town and then repair to the field and all join in a sham fight..."