January 23, 2004
CW's Presidents Day Weekend February 14-16 examines the Williamsburg connection of three Virginia-born presidents
In a presidential election year, such as 2004, the important contributions and lasting effects of American heads of state are studied and debated more often and more intensely. The lives and influence of three Virginia-born presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison--are regularly explored at Colonial Williamsburg, but never more so than during Presidents Day weekend Feb. 14-16. On this special weekend, Colonial Williamsburg commemorates the lives of the first three presidents who called Virginia home with programs that interpret the special relationship that each had with Williamsburg and their impact on the birth of a new nation. Programs include:
Saturday, Feb. 14“The Great Men in Williamsburg,” 10-11:30 a.m., Capitol. This program discusses the role Washington, Jefferson and Madison played in the events that occurred at the Capitol. In 1780, Governor Jefferson relates his early experiences as a lawyer in the General Court before the American Revolution. Madison reflects on his first attendance at the Virginia Convention in May 1776 as a delegate from Orange County, Va. In 1781, Gen. Washington discusses his tenure as a Burgess from 1759-74, as well as his friendship with the last royal governor, Lord Dunmore.“I Remember the Time…” 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Raleigh Tavern. In 1779 retiring Governor Patrick Henry discusses the friendships and political relations he had over the years with Gen. Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army; James Madison, member of the Governor’s Council and with Thomas Jefferson, who was just elected to succeed Henry as the next governor of Virginia.“I Remember the Time…” 1-2 p.m., Governor’s Palace East Advance Building. The Marquis de Lafayette, serving as an American-French liaison officer while leading an elite unit, speaks about Washington and his participation in the War for Independence as he and Washington prepare for the siege of the British at Yorktown.“A Public Audience with the First President, George Washington,” 1 p.m., Kimball Theatre. Washington looks back over his long career in public service reflecting on his years in the House of Burgesses, the American Revolution, serving as Commander in Chief of American forces in the War for Independence, and his leadership in drafting the Federal Constitution leading to his presidential election. Reservations required.“Thomas Jefferson, A Conversation with the Third President,” 2 and 3:30 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Jefferson recalls the experiences that brought him to the presidency: the Revolution; authoring the Declaration of Independence; wartime governor of Virginia; ambassador to France and vice president to John Adams. He shares his philosophy of revolution and his vision for the nation. Reservations required.“Colonel Washington and the War Against the French and Indians,” 3-4 p.m. Governor’s Palace, East Advance Building. In 1759, a young George Washington reports to the governor and council.“Music for the First President,” 7:30 and 9 p.m., Capitol. David and Ginger Hildebrand will perform a variety of songs and instrumentals familiar to the first president. Special ticket required.“Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson Debate the Presidential Election of 1796,” 7:30 p.m. DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. These former friends and political allies find themselves at odds over the role of the national government and who should follow George Washington as the next president of the United States. Special ticket required.
Sunday, Feb. 15“Letters Between Friends,” 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m., Governor’s Palace East Advance Building. Get to know Madison, Jefferson and Washington respectively from their letters to and from friends and political allies.“Washington as Symbol, A Historian’s Perspective on the American Icon,” 1 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Colonial Williamsburg historian Kevin Kelly explores the Washington myth so integrated into the American historical memory. Reservations required.“Salute to the Nation’s Presidents,” 4 p.m., Market Square. Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums and the foundation’s military programs staff salute the institution of the presidency and the citizens who have served. Washington, Jefferson and Madison will be in attendance.“An Election Year Evening with the Presidents,” 7:30 p.m., Kimball Theatre. The Founding Fathers discuss the role of president in times of national crisis. Special ticket required.“From Coronation to Inauguration,” 7:30 and 9 p.m., Governor’s Palace. An elegant evening of music in the home of the first two governors of the new Commonwealth of Virginia—Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. Special ticket required.
A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket is required to attend all programs. Reservations or special tickets are needed where indicated.
Lorraine C. Brooks