The Campaign for History and Citizenship
May 15, 1776. To anyone in Williamsburg looking down Duke of Gloucester Street that afternoon, it was immediately clear that Virginia had just voted for independence.
The news appeared in the form of the Union Flag of the American states, a smallish red-and-white banner flying for the first time above the Capitol. The new flag meant that Virginia’s legislators had voted to propose American independence in Congress—setting in motion a revolution that would forever change the course of world history.
The historic events that took place in Williamsburg more than 230 years ago not only gave rise to a great Nation, they continue to define us as a people. Here in the halls, homes and taverns our visitors encounter today, visionaries like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry debated and defined the founding principles of liberty and democracy that remain the cornerstone of the American identity. They are our guiding lights in the face of modern political, cultural and economic challenges, and a beacon to those still struggling for freedom and a better life.
Preserving this essential part of America’s heritage, and finding new ways to expand the public’s appreciation of its relevance today: this is our call to action, and the central purpose of our Campaign for History and Citizenship.
At Colonial Williamsburg, we believe the extraordinary people and events that gave rise to this great Nation also give direction for its future course. But if we fail to understand our country’s past, its lessons are lost to us. For this reason, Colonial Williamsburg strives each day to enrich and expand our programming to bring America’s founding period alive—for all those who visit here, and for the global audiences we reach online. As the living history museum that occupies this hallowed ground, we declare this to be both our mission and our responsibility—to today’s generations, and many more to come.
Colonial Williamsburg has therefore embarked on a $600-million campaign that aims to reinforce and reimagine its role in the 21st century as a leader in the areas of history education and historical preservation. We have identified a group of critical areas of investment that include:
- Developing creative, inspiring Revolutionary City programming to engage new and ever-more diverse audiences
- Developing compelling educational outreach programs that bring the stories and lessons of Colonial Williamsburg to global audiences through digital technology and other means
- Expanding the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg to share more of our extraordinary collections, which preserve and convey powerful information and unique insights into America's origins and its evolution through the centuries
- Preserving nearly 600 restored and reconstructed 18th-century buildings in our Historic Area, as well as the gardens and landscapes throughout
- Addressing critical needs and exciting new opportunities as they arise with the support of gifts to the Colonial Williamsburg Fund
Never before has Colonial Williamsburg’s mission—helping Americans shape their future by better understanding their past—had greater significance. With your support of the Campaign for History and Citizenship, Colonial Williamsburg will continue to play a leading role in our national conversation and survive as a source of inspiration for future generations.