Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My trip to Colonial Williamsburg

One of the many public back gardens to explore while in Williamsburg

When I visited my family last week, we made a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, a living-history site where actors dress in costume to portray colonists before and after the American Revolution. We chose not to buy event tickets, but instead bought bus tickets, as many of the historical buildings, such as Bruton Parish Church, do not require an event ticket, and we were only intending to spend one afternoon in the town.

Following the Fife and Drum Corps

We came at noon and had a picnic lunch, after which we stopped by the bakery behind the Raleigh Tavern for gingerbread. After eating our gingerbread, we walked around the historical shops and gardens on Duke of Gloucester Street, as we waited for the events of Williamsburg's street drama, Revolutionary City, to commence.This street drama encompasses some of the pivotal events that occurred in Williamsburg, from 1775 to 1781, over the course of the Revolutionary War.

One of the first dramas was about a British general who had been captured by the American army, who was meeting with the Governor.

He protested his and his men's treatment in gaol, and the slaughter of Native Americans who had been taken captive and then killed wantonly by the American troops.

The Governor, in return, countered with similar atrocities that the British had committed in the course of the war. This drama seemed to ask this question: if war is such an atrocity in itself, can a war be conducted without such atrocities?

This next drama was the story of a woman whose husband had been captured by the British. In order to become a camp follower, and be with him as he fought,  she had sent her two daughters to work as indentured servants. Now, she returns to Williamsburg destitute. While her friends feel sympathy for her, they are wary of aiding someone who has led the life of a camp follower. The stigma attached to her situation is addressed in this drama.

Then Benedict Arnold and his men rode up the street, headed for the church. We followed them, and a crowd gathered.

Benedict Arnold called freedom from British rule "a farce," and told several boys who were at the front of the crowd "to come back and talk to me when you grow a beard."  An older visitor told him "Liberty is freedom, the freedom to govern ourselves." Arnold told him to "jump down a well." As Arnold turned, he was roundly booed by the crowd.

We also got to listen to the dialogue between two slaves who were considering running away to join the British, who would give them their freedom.

We were joined by two Baptist ministers, who were asked by a young soldier about religious freedom. The man asked, "Wouldn't it be better for the government to decide what religion we should follow?"
The ministers explained that the division of church and state is a good thing, because it is not the place of government to dictate religion.

 The drama culminated with General Washington riding into Williamsburg and declaring the war to be over.

The militia then saluted the General by firing their muskets.

It was a very well-acted and historically accurate production, and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Colonial Williamsburg. The only place that I wish I could have visited was Bruton Parish Church.

I took this photo of the churchyard by standing on tiptoe and holding my camera up over the wall.
Anyway, there's always next time!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like fun! Now I want to go! :D
    And this statement/question intrigued me, "This drama seemed to ask this question: if war is such an atrocity in itself, can a war be conducted without such atrocities?"
    and I can answer that, WITH A QUESTION...
    If war is such an atrocity, why are we in five? Isn't peace better anyway?