February 3, 2006
Revolutionary City programming offers new way to experience colonial America
A 30-year-old carpenter torn between family and war, a runaway slave seeking freedom from his master, George Washington addressing his troops before the march to Yorktown, these are just a few of the people guests may encounter during Colonial Williamsburg’s new, interactive two-day experience, The Revolutionary City – From Subjects to Citizens.
The program, launching in March 2006, was developed to connect guests to the emotional and philosophical climate of the period leading up to and during the American Revolution.
“By involving guests in this significant time period in history, we’re hoping to reinvigorate their interest in our nation’s past, present and future,” said Rex Ellis, vice president of the Historic Area, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Citizen participation was as important to the Colonial Americans’ fight for freedom as it is for our democratic society today.”
To accurately depict the series of major events and scenes that illustrate Williamsburg’s central role in revolutionary times, each day will consist of a two hour interactive program, focused on select events that portray Colonial Americans’ crucial transition from subjects to citizens.
Day one will feature the collapse of royal government, depicting pivotal events during 1774 to 1776, including British Royal Governor Lord Dunmore’s dismissal of the House of Burgesses and the convening of the first Virginia convention. From witnessing a disagreement between a loyalist mother and her patriot daughter, to interacting with the slaves as they weigh the ironies of the freedom their masters seek, as juxtaposed to continued bondage for them, participants will have the opportunity to connect with the characters’ personal stories and share the challenges they faced as they separated themselves from British rule.
Day two spans July 1776 – September 1781, beginning with the Declaration of Independence and including the British Occupation of the city. Participants will share the difficulties, turmoil and challenges the citizens of Virginia faced as they join in protests about the high price of goods, stand next to an estranged wife seeking work at a tavern and march with General Washington as he prepares to leave for Yorktown.
“Many of the challenges Colonial Americans faced are similar to the challenges we face today -- families are torn by war, parents and children argue about what’s right and wrong and political debates are a daily occurrence,” said Ellis. “By connecting visitors to the Colonial Americans’ personal struggles for freedom, we hope guests will reflect on the liberties we’ve been granted and develop newfound respect for the benefits of citizenship, as well as the responsibility to participate in the democratic process.”
The Revolutionary City program activities will take place in the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. daily. Admission to The Revolutionary City program is included with the Colonial Williamsburg general admission ticket.
To enrich each guest’s experience, many of the programs in the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area will complement The Revolutionary City program activities, referencing and reinforcing the events depicted. All Historic sites will emphasize that citizen participation was at the heart of the matter of democracy, as it is at the heart of America today.