Day 50: Williamsburg

We reserved a whole day to spend in Colonial Williamsburg.

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That is enough time to see about half of what is available which gives you a good sense of things but not enough time to see everything.  We noticed most of the people (retirees) were buying 3 day passes.

We started the day attending a presentation of the Marquis de Lafayette

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and an American friend of his, James, who was enslaved, but then became a double agent during the war and was eventually freed. I personally really enjoy these re-enactments because they really do bring history to life. I love to ask them questions about issues of the times. After James told his story about spying and being freed, I asked Lafayette about his thoughts on slavery and he provided a very passionate response. The actors are so knowledgeable about the people they play that you feel like you are getting a much more accurate and truer presentation of history than you might get from history books or movies.

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Afterward we wandered around stepping into the shops to see the tradespeople. We visited the apothecary, the blacksmith, the wig maker (that was cool!), the book binder, the printer, the silversmith, the jewelry maker and the weaver. I could not get Shayna away from the little mini-loom. (That was the only hands-on activity).

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There are also multiple houses that can be toured, which gives you some insight to the high powered families of the 1700/1800s. We also had a tour of the Capital and the Palace. There are a few taverns to eat at that have traditional recipes but every one of them had a wait. That is why you need multiple days to see everything! We ended up at the bakery for pre-made sandwiches – yuck!

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The day ended with a “closing ceremony” which included a shooting of the canon and a speech by James Madison. Then the actor went out of character, introduced himself and thanked everybody for supporting Colonial Williamsburg. It is a privately run, non-profit organization. I was a bit disappointed that there were not more hands-on activities for kids. When I went with my family in 1976, we had half a day that we spent spooling wool and dipping candles, which provided vivid memories of Williamsburg. Maybe they have those activities in the summer. However, there still is nothing like Colonial Williamsburg anywhere else, and even just walking around, listening to the re-enactment characters and visiting the preserved buildings provides a step back into history to learn first hand about that period of time.

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