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June 16, 2006

Experience Independence Day in the town where freedom rang first

Catch the American Spirit during Colonial Williamsburg’s July Fourth celebration. Relive the events leading up to freedom from Great Britain in the restored 18th-century colonial capital of Virginia.

Independence Day festivities begin in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area at 10 a.m. with “A Salute to the States” on Market Square featuring the Williamsburg militia, Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums, cannon salutes and Revolutionary-era flags representing each of the 13 original colonies.

At 10:30 a.m. Revolutionary City programs will engage guests in a series of vignettes that revolve around America’s fight for independence from the Crown and will include:

  • May 26, 1774, Capitol West Yard. Enemies of Government: Governor Dunmore Dissolves the Assembly. Royal Governor Lord Dunmore announces to townspeople that he has dissolved the House of Burgesses for protesting the closing of Boston harbor by the British government.
  • October 26, 1774, in front of the Raleigh Tavern. Raise High the Liberty Pole! In the wake of protests designed by Virginia’s patriot leaders, some men have decided to take the law into their own hands. How far should we go in reacting to British tyranny?
  • April 15, 1775, in front of the Wig Shop. A House Divided! Arianna Randolph, a loyalist mother, warns her daughter Susannah that her father’s loyalty to the British king may require the family to leave the colony for England if American protests grow more violent.
  • April 29, 1775, in front of the Raleigh Tavern. The Gale from the North. On April 21, Governor Dunmore ordered the removal of gunpowder stored in the Magazine to keep it out of patriot hands. When some patriots threatened retaliation against the governor, Peyton Randolph, Virginia’s most influential politician and president of the Continental Congress, negotiated a truce. A week later, as he prepares to return to the Congress in Philadelphia, devastating news from the north arrives in Williamsburg.
  • November 17, 1775, behind the Coffeehouse Archaeological site. Dunmore’s Proclamation: Liberty to Slaves! Enslaved people gather to consider the royal governor’s offer of freedom to slaves who will take up arms with the British against their rebel masters. Should they leave their homes and families and endanger their lives for this one chance for freedom? Will the governor honor his offer? What will happen if they are captured and returned to their masters?
  • May 15, 1775, in front of the Raleigh Tavern. The Citizen Soldier! Alexander Hoy, a 30-year-old carpenter who has fallen on hard times, and his wife, Barbara, engage in a public argument about his enlisting in the Army. His wife is concerned that he is too old and that the family can’t survive without him.
  • July 25, 1776, Capitol. A Declaration of Independence! The Declaration of Independence is read to the citizens of Williamsburg. This news arrives only a few weeks after Virginia’s representatives have adopted their own Declaration of Rights on a Constitution for the new state.

    A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor pass is required to attend Revolutionary City programming.

    The Governor’s Palace Picnic begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m. Entertainment includes jugglers, storytellers, 18th-century games, balladeers and a performance by Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums. Guests also have preferred seating for the fireworks. The price is $45 for adults and $25 for children 6-12. Reservations for the picnic must be made by July 2.

    At 8:15 p.m. Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums and the New Bern Baroque Trumpet Ensemble will perform a concert prior to the fireworks. Colorful fireworks light up the sky at 9:15 p.m., concluding the Fourth of July celebration, and casting a spectacular radiance on the town that helped start a nation. Fireworks can be viewed from the Governor’s Palace and Market Square.

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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