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April 4, 2008

Who held the purse strings during the American Revolution?

For one 18th-century American patriot, the price of freedom was $800,000. To the spring issue of Colonial Williamsburg, Jack Lynch contributes “Robert Morris and the Financing of America’s First War,” an examination of how Congress funded the American Revolution. Morris, one of the richest businessmen in America, used his contacts and political influence to finance the fighting.

Lynch writes that the struggles to raise money for military crises then are similar to today’s. He tells readers of the popular history magazine that “More than two centuries after Morris’s financial ingenuity let the generals win the Revolution, the need to pay for expensive wars still shapes the structure of the U.S. government.”

Many people know the Siege of Yorktown won the Revolution for the Americans. Fewer know the rebels won the first battle of the Revolution in Virginia. Contributor Ivor Noël Hume tells of the Battle of Great Bridge led by Col. William Woodford.

Noël Hume writes, “Although in the annals of the American Revolution, the affair ranked low among great and familiar moments, what happened December 9, 1775, at a little village twelve miles south of Norfolk was pivotal to the first years of the war in Virginia.”

Elsewhere in the issue:

  • “Flowers and Herbs of Early America” — Colonial Williamsburg photographer Barbara Lombardi took the photographs for the soon-to-be-released book, “Flowers and Herbs of Early America” by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s curator of plants Lawrence Griffith;
  • “‘All That is Substantial and Beneficial in a Trial by Jury’” — James Breig, an Albany, N.Y.-based writer, discusses a fundamental principle of American justice;
  • “The Perturbations of Lucy Ludwell Paradise” — Contributor Mary Miley Theobald writes about one of 18th-century Williamsburg’s most eccentric residents; and,
  • “Play Ball! Colonial Games and America’s National Pastime” – Contributor Ed Crews searches for the beginning of baseball.

    These articles and articles from previous issues are online at Colonial Williamsburg can be purchased at Everything Williamsburg™ and Williamsburg Booksellers® at the Foundation’s Visitor Center. Complimentary copies of the printed magazine can be obtained and subscriptions ordered at For more information, call 888-CWF-1776.

    The journal is published four times a year and is a benefit to donors who contribute $35 annually or more.

    Established in 1926, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary-era capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” -- a daily dramatic live street theater presentation -- is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is in Virginia’s Tidewater, 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 Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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