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50 Candidates for U.S. Citizenship to Attend Naturalization Ceremony at Chatham Manor

By John Hennessy, Chief Historian/Chief of Interpretation, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. File photo copyright Fredericksburg Today.

For the second consecutive year the National Park Service and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will collaborate to host a naturalization ceremony at Chatham Manor, part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

At 10 a.m. on the morning of June 25, 2016, 50 candidates for U.S. citizenship, their friends, and supporters will gather on the terraces at Chatham Manor. The ceremony will take place overlooking the Rappahannock River, where thousands of slaves took their first steps toward citizenship by crossing the river to freedom within Union lines more than 150 years ago. The public is invited to attend.

The ceremony will be preceded by a short program at 9:30 that will explore the passage of slaves into Stafford County in 1862, and the immense implications that crossing had for the concept and reality of being a citizen of the United States. The public is invited.

Sarah Taylor, District Director of the Washington District, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will host the ceremony and administer the oath of citizenship. Park Superintendent Kirsten Talken-Spaulding will welcome attendees. Soloist John Baer will perform the National Anthem. The Honorable Rob Whitman, Member of Congress from Virginia’s First Congressional District, will offer the keynote address.

After the ceremony, the Friends of Chatham and the Washington-Lewis Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution will provide refreshments in the newly refurbished Chatham summer house.

Built in 1771, Chatham once visually dominated Fredericksburg from the Stafford County side of the Rappahannock River. It is the only private home in the nation to be visited by Washington and Lincoln, and during the Civil War was used as a field hospital and headquarters by the Union army. In 2014, the National Park Service undertook a scene restoration project that re-opened the vista between Chatham and Fredericksburg. The ceremony on June 25 will take advantage of that magnificent view.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields National Military Park was once the bloodiest landscape in North America. Two major Civil War armies clashed in and around Fredericksburg in four pivotal battles within an 18-month span, resulting in 100,000 casualties. The park is the second largest military park in the world, and covers four major battlefields and five historic structures. Our dedicated staff works year round to ensure that this important historic and cultural resource is preserved, protected, and interpreted for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

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