History was never my favorite topic in school. Things change. After traveling the world I have developed a great love and appreciation for history. I love visiting new places and experiencing the historical elements found there.
I originally planned on staying in a cabin near Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to enjoy the natural beauty of the forest and the nearby caverns. I began the trip by spending a couple of days at the ocean, near Virginia Beach, visiting the Virginia Air and Space Center and Fort Monroe.
Then I discovered Yorktown and my remaining plans changed. Forget the caverns. Colonial American history is fascinating. I enjoyed exploring the fields and forests where George Washington and his troops fought, with the help of the French, in the Siege of Yorktown. That battle lead to our independence and the birth of the United States of America.
I decided to make the journey from Shenandoah to Colonial Williamsburg over the next two days to explore more colonial history. While Yorktown presented history, Williamsburg recreated it. Williamsburg has rebuilt the colonial town and populated it with historians dressed in colonial clothing. Each ready to tell the story of a person, they are portraying, who lived in Williamsburg during the colonial years.
If you walk into the bakers building, you meet the baker and his helpers as they bake fresh ginger bread, while discussing news from the period, and describing how they make their baked goods. If you walk into the courthouse you become part of trials of the colonial era. I took park in three trials by playing one of the judges. It was a fascinating way to discover laws of the day and how the colonial judicial system differs from ours. Dinner in the tavern involves food from the period and live music played just as it was during colonial times.
One of my take-a-ways from Williamsburg was realizing just how close the colonists were to Britain. They were happy British subjects, for many years, until taxation without representation lead to the Revolutionary War. That war resulted in our independence and the birth of the United States of America.
James Madison’s Montpelier
I spent my last day in Virginia at the home of James and Dolly Madison. Montpelier provided a fascinating education on the Founding Father, architect of the Constitution, and fourth President of the United States. Montpelier also gave insight into the duPont family. Marion duPont Scott was the last private owner of Montpelier. The Enslaved Community tour was a fascinating look at a dark point in American history. I did not realize, until this tour, that the first black Africans came to Virginia, in 1619, as indentured servants. Demands for labor and the increasing cost of indentured servants created a demand for laws that resulted in slavery.