Colonial Williamsburg and the "Revolutionary City"

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Chip NoVaMac, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #1
    {First, let me apologize for what will be multiple posts in this topic. One major reason will be the limit of photos allowed in any one post. The other major reason is that I feel there are multiple topics to be covered, and hence I want a clearer way for some to respond. And add my personal quote by the AP. :)

    Yes, I know that this trip is out of sync with my Reykjavik and London visit at the end of February. This is due in part with my desire to work on a real "memory book" of that trip, that post of that travel will hopefully be done in a week or two.}

    It has been since the late '90's since I have been to Colonial Williamsburg (CW in further references). Always enjoyed visits to CW over the years. This past Monday to answer lagging attendnce, CW decided to add the "Revolutionary City" experience for visitors.

    In the past CW ended life in 1776, and the declaration for independence. With their new "experience", they address in two days the rise to independence (1774-1776) and the prelude to the pivotal battle at Yorktown (1776-1781) - from the CW experience.

    One of the major changes in how colonial history is portrayed, is the greater inclusion of slaves and other religions that existed at the time. A minor change IMO is that the figures from history are relating more to the events of the day that is being represented.

    As an example, the audience with Thomas Jefferson on the "first day" (1774-1776) dealt with the issues and his thoughts at that time. Other aspects from both days are hopes that were given to the slaves from both sides (the British and the Americans) as to the hope of being "free" - depending on which side they chose to side with.

    For one that loves history and theater - I was in heaven. To be able to see actors that brought me to tears at times; and then to ask questions (based on broad concepts, in trying not to bring up references of the current history directly - but in a broader perspective) provided a new perspective to the past and present.

    For myself, as a self described student of history, to "experience" history "firsthand" was quite an experience. As one that loves "theater", I loved being able to interact with the actors in their roles.

    What CW offered up is a great piece to make us think from our past and our present. For there was talk of the sacrifices made in terms of costs of goods at the the time (flower and the such) and the cost in terms of human life.

    [Attached are images from that audience]
     

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  2. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #2
    I did have the opportunity to be interviewed by the AP during my visit. Yet another 15 minutes in fame (more like 5 seconds, maybe).

    http://www.charleston.net/stories/?newsID=76943&section=stateregion

    (Complete text in which I was quoted - though briefly - given for context and perspective of the "event".)

    Can you find my quote?

    {attached are images from the reenactments}
     

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  3. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #3
    Other images

    the first image is of the "Liberty Tree: and the hoisting of the "tar and feathers". The second image is a "slave" that is speaking her mind on the AMerican vs. the British hope for "freedom' for the salves. The next image is of two women discussing the "lose" of a loved one. This next one is just showing the crowd among the visitors. This last one is showing an "actor" working the crowd.
     

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  4. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #4
    It's apparently a lot better than it used to be. Having lived in southeastern VA during some early years, we traveled to Williamsburg more than 10 times.

    At that time, there wasn't much more than the buildings, including restaurants and shoppes, and someone blowing glass and another person churning butter.

    In 1982, it was much more realistic with actors in place, including slaves. Of course, down the road is Busch Gardens: The Old Country, just in case people are bored with history.
     
  5. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #5
    The next image is one of a slave talking of what "freedom" means to her. The next two image are of "General Benedict Arnold" riding to the Capital in Williamsburg to claim the "capital" in the name of the "Crown". The final image is of a young man that is listening to the words that lead him to join the militia that will march with George Washington from Williamsburg to Yorktown to defeat the British.
     

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  6. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #6

    So right you are.

    I held the same POV as you did.

    This trip was such a great experience. I opted for the "Independence Pass" , this gave me the ability to reserve some walking tours and some evening "performances".

    As I said, I love history and "theater". In the daylight hours I caught the likes of "The Other Side'; dealing with the indentured servants and that over 50% of the colonial population was Black (or African-American if you prefer.

    In the night time hours I experienced the likes of "Cry Witch", the trail in which I was the jury in the one which trail of record in CW.The next night I participated in a piracy case; in which I was asked to judge guilt or innocents.

    Before that "trial" I was on the "Legends and Ghosts tour". A great experience! On our second stop I found out that the "song" she led us on was created on the spur of the moment - to answer the concerns of the group leader and a disruptive "family unit".

    You should see the way slaves ate depicted today. They have a "character/actor" that represents the "Baptists". I represented the "gentry" class in a "case" at the Court House for IIRC was for a Quaker Meeting House.

    Before some think that the CW is a "liberal hothouse" of ideas; the idea is to present the "ideas and values" of that time.If one comes away with "different" ideas; that is your choice.

    I will say that based on the "Revolutionary City" concept I am at 47yo wanting to better understand my nations history and how it relates to the world.

    This comes after seeing Iceland and London recently. In Iceland there is much respect that their "founding" goes back to 1000AD. There is much respect to that settlement period in their history.

    I do lament that here in the US we see to point to the period of the Pilgrims", but we fail to see the potential contributions of the many generations that contributed our nations greatness.
     
  7. sarae macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Great shots and summary. I went on a family trip to Colonial Williamsburg years ago, when I was about... nine or so. A lot of it was over my head at the time, and I don't remember a lot, but since then the time of the Revolutionary War has intruiged me and I've long wanted to return. Nice to hear that they've added more things to do/see.
     
  8. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #8
    Thanks to all for the comments so far.

    What I did not state clearly was that I spent about 20-30 minutes with an AP reporter. So far I have been quotes as I would return again to see what I missed, and “I call this Disney World for the mind,” Lenkiewicz said.

    There was so much more that the report seemed to be interested in; but did not make the "cut".

    What seems to be missing from the many articles about this new exhibit, is that are parallels to what we are experiencing today. Rising prices for day to day goods - all in support for the "war for freedom".

    Also who's view for "freedom" do we support? For the slaves were offered "freedom" by both the "Revolutionaries" and the British - with conditions.

    Depending on ones POV; are we any different today? Each side for the "hearts and minds" of the people have staked their claim.

    Maybe the difference back in 18th century we had those that were willing at least to stake their livelihoods, if not their own lives on the outcome.

    Just look at the unrest in France, over new labor laws.

    Not that I want to see violence in our streets. But I do wish we had some passion, in a peaceful way, to show that we are not happy in any issue that the "right" or "left" might choose.

    I just wonder are we too afraid, or too comfortable in our ways of life here in the US?

    What I came away with is that in the 18th century, they were neither.
     
  9. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #9
    I always like Colonial Willamsburg over it's later-themed cousin Old Sturbridge Village. Don't think I've been to CW in over 20 years. I think I'll head up there with the wife soon!
     
  10. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

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    #10
    I loved to go there as a kid some of the interpreters were incredible. There was a guy who was at the basket shop who new history and his craft and was throwing together baskets left and right while talking about it all.

    The last time I was there I saw that one of my ancestors was going to be walking around and speaking! It was a couple of days after I had to leave though so I didn't get a chance to hear it. :(
     
  11. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #11
    That's not far from my place...I went there a few times on school field trips when I was a kid. Cool place...though if I remember right, I didn't really 'get it' the first time I went.

    Also went to Plimouth Plantation....really cool stuff there as well. :)
     
  12. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #12
    Ahh.. Plymouth, MA. A 1.5 horse town if there ever was one. :)
     
  13. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #13
    I will have to make the trip up there.

    I will admit that I am a bit of geek when it comes to "living history museums". In some ways I tormented the "actors" at CWB questioning their views at that time, verses what we are seeing today.

    "The Audience with Thomas Jefferson" is a case in point. Given that he was in the time period of 1776-1781; he did address the concerns that some had in the audience over his ownership of slaves. IIRC, the laws at that time allowed for only 2 slaves to freed each year. He had well over a hundred. Freeing the slaves, would have meant breaking the law at that time.

    Did not have the opportunity to ask "him" how that differed from "breaking the law" by demanding independence from England. I assume it will be the difference between accepting the laws as they were in the colonies, verses the laws that England was handing down at the time. A fine line, but maybe a line we can learn from today.
     
  14. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #14
    If you have the chance to visit Sturbridge, try to check out Plymouth too, it's relatively close and nicely put together (or at least it was 10 years ago...that makes me feel really old :eek: ).
     
  15. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #15
    Given the distance, I would do both, and Salem, MA. :)

    I love our early history of our nations democratic foundations. I also love "living history museums".

    After my recent trip to Iceland, I lament that we seem to base our nations history as starting in the 17th or 18th century. Iceland has great reverence for what they call "The Settlement". Dating back to 1000AD when the first Viking settlers came to their shores.

    At least when I was in school, Columbus was credited with the discovery of the Americas. I found it interesting that even back in the 1930's there were those in the US that recognized that Lief Ericson was the first to see the land that we consider to be the Americas in recorded history.

    This is marked by a statue at the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral in Reykjavik (attached are a few shots). Experiencing the reverence of the past in Iceland gave me a greater appreciation of the Native American friends, and their tales of their nations history.

    Some might mock Icelanders reverence of understanding and accepting of elves and the little people. But I see parallels in Native Americans having a reverence of what is around us in nature.
     

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  16. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #16
    That last image I thought would be a "hit" among the Apple faithful. It was an art installation that had no explanation that I could find.
     
  17. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #17
    Further than that..

    874AD is when they get their first settlers.

    I loved Iceland. Looking forward to going back.
     
  18. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

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    #18
    Things are so new here. many years ago I was in pittsburgh with a friend from Germany. We were down at the point and I said that the fort was the oldest thing around and it was just over 200 years old. I pointed at a ruined bridge and asked how old she thought it was and she said quit honestly 500 years... It was 120 at the most. So new...

    Anyway, there is evidence that the inuit,lapps,eskimo,et al migrate freely around the pole and shifted continent fairly regularly.
     
  19. Chip NoVaMac thread starter macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    #19
    I may be wrong, but IIRC the museums that I visted pointed to 1000AD as "The Settlement". Either way their reverance of their past is something that I wish we had more of when I was in HS and college. Hopefully there is a greater apprieciation of the days before the Europeans coming to the Americas.

    The point being is that we have a long history here in the US; but for many reasons it is overlooked.

    As mentioned we are a young nation from the POV of those that crossed "The Big Pond". So buildings that are still standing after 200+ years is a big thing.

    My visit to London was awing. To see and touch "history" that dates back to 1000AD or longer. I can't wait till I have the chance to visit Rome and Eygpt. (Sorry I am on my sisters Windoz machine, and don't have the ease of spell check).
     

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