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February 4, 2005

CW's Presidents Day Weekend Feb. 19-20 explores the Williamsburg connection of three Virginia-born presidents

The values, morals and contributions of presidents and heads of state are studied and debated intensely year after year. Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 19-20, is a perfect time to delve into the lives and influence of three Virginia-born presidents— George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Colonial Williamsburg invites guests to explore the special relationship that each president had with Williamsburg and its residents, and the president’s impact on the emergence of a new nation. Also during this special weekend, for the first time guests are invited to meet Jeremy Prophet, an enslaved man who lived in servitude to Washington. Weekend programs include:

Saturday, Feb. 19

  • “The Gentlemen’s Men,” 10 a.m. -11:40 a.m. every 20 minutes, Mary Stith House. Meet the enslaved personal manservants of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and others as they discuss their roles and how the impending revolution affects their personal lives.
  • “The Great Men in Williamsburg,” 10 a.m., 11:40 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. - 12:20 p.m., every 20 minutes, Raleigh Tavern. In the Apollo Room 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.
  • “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.
  • “I Remember the Time: The Marquis D’ Lafayette Remembers George Washington,” 1 – 2 p.m. every 20 minutes, Governor’s Palace East Advance Building. Serving as an American-French liaison officer while leading an elite unit, Lafayette speaks about George Washington and his participation in the War for Independence as he and Washington prepare forthe siege of the British at Yorktown.
  • “A Conversation with Mr. Madison,” 2 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Speak with James Madison, who served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 -1816, the third Virginian elected to the highest office in the land. Educated at the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton, Madison was the principal author of the Constitution of the United States. Reservations required.
  • “Colonel Washington and the War Against the French and Indians,” 3 – 3:40 p.m. Governor’s Palace, East Advance Building. In 1759, a young George Washington reports to the governor and council.
  • “In the General’s Shadow: The Life and Times of Jeremy Prophet,” 7:30 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Jeremy Prophet, an enslaved man who lived in servitude to George Washington, tells stories about his life and adventures. As an old man, Jeremy recalls his exploits as a horse handler for the Washington family. Prophet is portrayed by Dr. Rex Ellis, a nationally renowned storyteller and public historian. Special ticket required.
  • “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, reflecting the breadth and character of music during George Washington’s time. Special ticket required.

    Sunday, Feb. 20

  • “Letters between Friends,” 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., approximately every 20 minutes. Governor’s Palace East Advance Building. Meet James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and discuss with them the letters they have sent and received from their friends and political allies.
  • “Washington as Symbol, A Historian’s Perspective on the American Icon,” 1 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Colonial Williamsburg historian Kevin Kelly explores the Washington myth so integrated into the American historical memory.
  • “The Founding Mother: A Conversation with Martha Washington,” 2:30 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum Hennage Auditorium. Martha Washington was a woman of property and rank in colonial Virginia society and the First Lady of the Republic. She was the mother of two, a beloved wife and woman of deep religious conviction. Come and hear her reflections on the world that she inhabits, her thoughts about motherhood and matters of the spirit and her opinions of her adored and adoring husband. Reservations required.
  • “Salute to the Presidents,” 4 p.m., Market Square. Colonial Williamsburg’s Founding Fathers, Military Programs staff and Fifes and Drums celebrate the institution of the presidency and the citizens who have served in that office over the centuries. We also are proud to recognize the states most closely associated with each of our presidents, either by birth or residence.
  • “An Evening with the Presidents: The Role of the Executive and the Bill of Rights,” 7:30 p.m., Kimball Theatre. Join Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Madison in a discussion about the executive’s challenges in protecting the nation while upholding the rights given under the Constitution’s first 10 amendments. 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.

    For more information, call toll-free (800) HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s web site at

    Media Contact:
    Lorraine C. Brooks
    (757) 220-7280

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