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August 19, 2011

Andrea Wulf Discusses How the Roots of the American Revolution Ran Deep

Not only did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison operate farms, they believed agriculture was the noblest occupation and the foundation of democracy. Award-winning historian Andrea Wulf focuses on the agricultural passion that also reflected the political convictions of America’s Founders during “The Founding Gardeners” at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

For the founding fathers, gardening, agriculture and botany were elemental passions, as deeply ingrained in their characters as their belief in liberty for the nation they were creating. She describes how even as British ships gathered to attack New York in 1776, George Washington wrote to his estate manager about the garden at Mount Vernon; how Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were inspired by their English garden tour; how a trip to the great botanist John Bartram’s garden in Philadelphia helped the delegates of the Constitutional Congress to break their deadlock; and why James Madison is the forgotten father of American environmentalism.

Taken together, these and other stories are a revelation of a guiding, but previously overlooked ideology of the American Revolution. In a unique retelling of the creation of America, this talk will show how plants, politics and personalities intertwined as never before.

Wulf trained as a design historian at London’s Royal College of Art. She is the author of “The Brother Gardeners” (winner of Samuel Johnson Prize in 2008 and the American Horticultural Society 2010 Book Award) and the co-author (with Emma Gieben-Gamal) of “This Other Eden.” She has written for The Sunday Times (London), The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times and appears regularly on BBC television and radio. She lives in London.

“The Founding Gardeners” will be available for sale in the Museum Store. A book signing will follow the lecture. The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum is located at 326 W. Francis St. in Williamsburg.

A Colonial Williamsburg admissions ticket, museum pass or Good Neighbor Card provides access to this lecture.

“The Founding Gardeners” is a Distinguished Scholar Lecture funded by the Horatio Hall Whitridge and Gracia Grieb Whitridge Lecture Series Endowment.

Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, with more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum exhibits the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670–1830.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at the intersection of Francis and South Henry Streets in Williamsburg, Va., and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For museum program information, telephone (757) 220-7724.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121