Williamsburg Walking Tours Hosts Blind Students from DBVI
For the third year, Williamsburg Walking Tours hosted 30 students from the Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired for a special 1 ½-hr. tour. On Saturday, July 20, 2019, Co-Owner and Master Storyteller Trish
Thomas entertained the group with little-known facts about Williamsburg drawn from the company’s repertoire of stories from its tours which include:
Trish has spent a lifetime studying history, especially the history of Virginia, and is a master storyteller. She’s from Virginia Beach, and for years gave tours on the boardwalk about shipwrecks, pirates and the heroic Coast Guard lifesaving stations. She regularly appeared at the historic houses of Virginia Beach, and was a docent at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk.
Co-Owner Of Williamsburg Walking Tours
Co-owner of Williamsburg Walking Tours since 2011, she offers guided tours of Williamsburg’s history, the African American experience in Williamsburg, and the Civil War in Williamsburg.
Private Group Tours And On-Site Presentations
Trish is available for private group tours as well as on-site presentations at regional schools and church events, and at family reunions and conventions in the Williamsburg area.
To understand the occupation of Williamsburg put yourself in these shoes..
A year ago you lived as a free woman in peace. You went to the market, to church, and to your home without any thought of safety, food, or your future. Times were good. Food was plentiful and you are healthy. Now it is 1862.
A Foreign Army Is Occupying Williamsburg
This is the reality of your hometown of Williamsburg Virginia. It is occupied by troops you despise. They wear a different color than those of the soldiers you support. They are in every street, every public building, and every place you go. They are your sworn enemy. The town is filled with refugees from Hampton, victims of the conflict caused by this invading army. They hang a flag you do not pledge allegiance too. It is the flag of the army that has invaded your town. The flag of the enemy is the stars and stripes of the United States Of America. They are the invaders of the South, or so this how you see it.
Welcome To The Occupation Of Williamsburg
The difference between whether it was the occupation of Williamsburg or the protection of the United States is a matter of perspective. To the local population of Williamsburg, Virginia the overall allegiance was to a new government and an old way of life. Many would say the Town of Williamsburg, Virginia pledged their allegiance to the Confederate States Of America. Many in the Union occupying army would tell you that the town was a nest of traitors, sworn enemies of the United States of America.
The Confederate Army In Williamsburg
The Confederate Army held Williamsburg for a very short time. Regardless, the territory, and a large number of the people that were denizens there, were loyal to the Confederacy. The true impact of this becomes very clear when you see daily life for the average Williamsburg citizen who lived most of the war under Union occupation.
Many citizens had open hostility and aggression toward the occupying Union Army. Many sympathizers would find ways to signal the Confederates of Union positions and movements. At times this aggression would come into the open with raids on Union positions in Williamsburg. There was limited interaction between many citizens and the uniformed representatives of the occupying Northern Army.
Learn About These Perspectives On Our Civil War Tour
Williamsburg Walking Tours helps you discover the truth, one story at a time. Our Civil War Tour, known as Richmond Was A Hard Road To Travel illuminates history in its plainest and often most honest perspective. From stories of struggle, to insights on the battle itself, you will discover history in a new way.
Mark St. John Erickson. (2013, April 26). Rebel raids, Yankee occupation. Retrieved from https://www.dailypress.com/features/history/civilwar/dp-civil-war-williamsburg-20130114-story.html
The boundaries or battlefield area of the Battle of Williamsburg stretched from Jamestown to Yorktown. The apex of the battlefield would be Fort Magruder in Williamsburg. This would be the South’s position that they would have to hold in the Williamsburg Conflict.
How The Battle Of Williamsburg Boundaries Formed
The Battle of Williamsburg boundaries form as the Union, centered around Fort Monroe, threaten to move up the Virignia Peninsula. This would start in Hampton and move progressively West through the Peninsula towns of Newport News, Yorktown, and subsequently, Williamsburg.
From The Peninsula To Richmond..
With Richmond, the current confederate capital in 1862, only 51 miles away, the need to block this advance was critical. Thus, the Battle of Williamsburg would be a key conflict point between the two armies.
Battle of Williamsburg: Key Point In The Peninsula Campaign
The Peninsula Campaign is the bigger picture in this Williamsburg Civil War clash. The Battle of Williamsburg marks a key clash in the Union’s advance towards Richmond. The Union goal was to come up the Eastern Peninsula to get to the Confederate Capital in Richmond. The Confederates slowed this advance by clashing in Wiliamsburg. The Union pursued them but was unable to foil their tactical retreat back up the Peninsula. Other battles would ensue but ultimately the Union would come up short in their quest of a Richmond conquest and Confederate defeat in 1862.
Looking for more information on the Battle of Williamsburg?
Check out our tour, Richmond Was A Hard Road To Travel for an in depth, on site look at this often forgotten key to the Peninsula Campaign. Also check out this article on the Battle of Williamsburg for a quick strategic overview of the strategic impact of this Virginia Civil War conflict.
Williamsburg Walking Tours Is Offering A New Civil War Tour. The Name of the tour is Richmond Is A Hard Road To Travel.
The Civil War Comes To Williamsburg
It is based upon a song written during the war The song is…”Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel.” There are many versions each slightly different but one famous rendition is the from the 97th Regimental Strings. The 97Th Regimental String Band sings songs of the Civil War Era, which can often show a different perspective of what the actual solider really felt about the events occurring around them.
You can see the song and hear the lyrics at this Youtube clip
Tour The Civil War In Williamsburg
Come explore The Battle Of Williamsburg Tour. Come explore new insights in a tour where you see events that lead to a greater escalation of the war.
Around midnight on August 7,1861 General Magruder and 500 Confederate soldiers entered the city of Hampton and set fire to the buildings. It was estimated that Hampton had around 500 buildings, by sunrise on August 8 only seven or eight remained standing. The reason for this was so the Union troops would have no place to live.
The Civil War Peninsula Campaign: New Tactics In A Long War
In March 1862, seeking to avoid an overland route to Richmond,( the Battle of Manasses did not work out well) the Union Army transported 130,000 troops,15,000 horses, 1,100 wagons and 44 artillery batteries down the Chesapeake Bay to Fort Monroe.
The goal of the Union army was to take Richmond by going up the Peninsula. After Hampton was burned the only city close to Richmond (from the south) was Williamsburg. Refugees from Hampton fled to Williamsburg.
After the Battle of Williamsburg, May 5,1862, Williamsburg became a Union occupied town until the end of the war.
Tour Williamsburg’s Civil War History From A Human Perspective
The Civil war was known as brother versus brother. But it was also schoolmate versus schoolmate, friend versus friend, and solider versus officer. The soldiers, including enlisted and officer alike had served in ONE United States Army. They had fought together in Mexico and served all over the United States as colleagues and friends. Now they were pitted against one another in a civil war death struggle. As time passed generations forget how human this war really was. And among those many stories you may not know..George Armstrong Custer.
Learn About Lieutenant Armstrong Custer And The Battle Of Williamsburg
In researching the history one story can change the way you see those men and women, who in old photographs appear as statuesque soldiers stoically posed for the camera. Among them Lt. Armstrong Custer (Union) found a confederate friend on the battlefield and made sure he was taken to a private house to recover. This friend ended up marrying the daughter of the house and Lt. Custer was invited and attended the wedding.
And It All Culminates At The Battle Of Williamsburg
The Battle Of Williamsburg is often overlooked due to the tidal size carnage that followed in battles like Antietam and Gettysburg. These battles certainly lived up to their reputation but the Williamsburg tour has significance as well. Some of the things to consider are:
Turning Point For Civil War Strategy?
The battle marks some key changes in the civil war. The Union changes it’s strategy from a Northern assault to Richmond after the disasters at Bull Run. The Union Army shows their resolve by using their strengths in logistics and maneuvere by traversing the wet,muddy marshy flatlands of the Virginia Eastern Peninsula. The Confederate strategy changes as well. The South realizes that unchecked, the Union army will eventually power there way to Richmond. A strategy of all out assaults on the North would follow in years to come at places like Antietam and Gettysburg. And the groundwork for this can be traced back to events transpiring out of the Battle Of Willamsburg.
The Confederates Are Forced To Respond
Only hours from Richmond, Williamsburg Virginia is a strategic vantage point to assault Richmond. A Union intrusion to this flank position forces the Confederates to bolster their Eastern Defense. It also draws the Confederates to battle…forcing them to use energy to conform to Union plans. But what happens next?
Learn What Happens.. Experiencing It For Yourself
Join us for a Civil War Tour In Williamsburg and experience parts of America’s Second Revolution in the same place as it’s first!
There is no end to the fascination with pirates. The idea of men without country, charter, law or government fascinate the American public and the world. No such historical character embodies the visceral and romantic qualities of the pirate captain like Blackbeard.
Just the mention of that name evokes a response among the emotionally less shock able denizens of the 21st century. In today’s morally open, heavily armed, entertainment driven culture, you would think naval outlaws are not that shocking or interesting. Movies and televisions however, and the public’s consumption of such tales and historical accounts, say otherwise.
Blackbeard aka Edward Teach
Blackbeard is like the stage name of one of history’s most infamous pirates, Edward Teach. The name itself is almost like a media brand or a Hollywood persona, combining his stature and mannerism with a dubious reputation for tyrannical psychology and violence. But this was not Hollywood, but cold well calculated military psychology.
November will mark the 300th anniversary of Teach’s life. Unlike so many people, his life could have been a movie plot. Here are some things which just scream Hollywood action movie that are actually true..
Complete with costuming and stage presence
He was an imposing figure with big hat and manicured beard. He would become famous for his captain like regalia. It was this image that led to his reputation and legend, no doubt inspired by his Royal military heritage.
A Great Back Story And A Good Side
A great drama or action movie has a believable backstory. Blackbeard’s starts as a privateer in the Royal navy, serving in the conflicts of what would be the dominant empire of the day. But we all know that a great military is built with indomitable men. Men who can command and conquer their enemies, by land and of course by sea. It was this backdrop that helped groom young Teach to be a great solider and commander, the backdrop of any great pirate commander.
Like all great villains, fictional or real, this brush with legitimacy gives him depth. He is not pure evil or hapless pragmatist. At one point he even tries to live the honest life after a pardon from a territorial governor, but this quickly goes array.
Even political dealings evoked a certain drama
Like any great action drama the pardon quickly fades into the human paradigm of hypocrisy as the corrupt North Carolina governor accepts a bounty from Blackbeard’s continuing adventures into piracy at the high seas. His one chance to live the honest life is gone and now the very system that is supposed to protect us from criminals, is enabling one. And I think this allows us to build some empathy with a man like Blackbeard. He has tried to go straight but the corrupt world system draws him back in.
Dark psychology on enemies and envoys
But all great villains have a dark side. This makes history sway us that this was not a hero but anti-hero. He was brutal to anyone who did not surrender once attacked and was noted to be ferocious in battle, even to the end. But he would spare those who did not fight against him. This application of mercy makes it hard for us to completely write off this man as a byproduct of what is wrong with human nature.
Complicated personal life and drama
We cannot simply dismiss this man as just another miscreant. His story is too serendipitous. His journey to exciting. His moral compass more wildly sporadic than can be neatly judged in the confines of 17th century justice. In a place where things like slavery and Governors cavorting with pirates is acceptable, we have trouble not liking him a little.
Happy 300th Blackbeard
Now on his birthday we salute this larger than live anti hero, delivering a life that carved out as much from imagination as it did from historical truth.
September 11 is day of infamy. No American citizen could ever forget this day. In fact, most Americans could tell you exactly where they were. That is the impact of a national trauma and a day in which thousands of Americans would lose their lives when the Trade Towers and Pentagon were attacked.
On September 11, 2001 our enemies dealt us a shocking and painful blow. But two strategic things did not happen. They did not achieve all their goals, as Americans rose up to fight the flight destined for the White House or the Capital. The other was that in spite of a huge breech into the American mainland, the attack did not break our spirit or our resolve to fight this kind of tyranny, regardless of whatever form it takes.
Not The First American Attack On September 11
But this was not the first day where American was crushed on September 11. In fact, it is also the day of a rout of American Colonial forces by the British at the Battle of Brandywine. Many people do not realize what happened and what could have happened on this tenuous September day. To put it in perspective, I will set the stage.
In 1778 the British are driving toward Philadelphia to occupy the city. All that stands between them is a poorly equipped army of farmers, frontiersmen, and tradesmen led by an aggressive general named George Washington. They are all volunteers against a seasoned and well trained British force anchored by General Howe and General Cornwallis. Oh and they outnumber the Colonials 18,000 troops to 11,000.
Positioned against Chads Creek, General Washington plans to engage Howe head on at the creek. Little does he know that a trap is being set. One that will encircle his army, destroy it, and end the American Revolution, leaving the British as victors.
All through the morning General Cornwallis leads a detachment of soldiers around Washington’s right flank. To make matters worse part of Washington’s army begins to cross the creek, oblivious to the British slowly suffocating their movement.
Defeat But Not Destruction
But the Americans get wind of the flanking maneuver. They are forced to retreat. They give ground to the British and lose Philadelphia. It is an embarrassment as we almost lose an entire army. But it wasn’t.
American Resolve Did Not Waiver
In spite of the setback and the loss or capture of over thousand American soldiers, we are able to regroup. Our will to fight is not broken and we continue engaging the British for years to come. The sting of embarrassment does not diminish our spirits. In fact, if anything it strengthens our resolve
Back to the events of September 11, 2001
The times changed. The tactics changed. The amount of human loss was unimaginable. But our resolve to fight tyrants, in any form, has not changed. We came together to fight after the attack and have prevented a major attack on US soil ever since.
Our character at Brandywine was shaped by tragedy. But we begin to develop a determination that would be part of who we are as a nation until the present day. Regardless of what a day like September 11 has or could bring, we are a strong nation that will never stop fighting to stay free against those who want to conquer or destroy us.
If you have ever thought Hollywood is searching for scripts when you see tired run of the mill cookie cutter action movies, I can tell you one place they should be looking. The place..the relatively unexplored annals of Black History or African American history.
Bass Reeves is a movie that is begging to be made into major motion picture and I have read of famous actors who have made this a goal. Yes, it was a lower budget production but I just want to see an Academy Award winning actor bring this person to life
The movie being made into a larger budget production is probably inevitable but I do have a few concerns. With most stories Hollywood has to exaggerate to make it more exciting. If you read the historical account of Bass Reeves amazing life, you might realize Hollywood couldn’t include it all. And if they did, who would believe it.
Believe it..here are a few amazing facts that could show a Hollywood script writer a few things or two..by just telling the historical account.
He was a slave turned One Of The First Deputy Marshalls in history
He had over 3,000 arrests
He spoke multiple Native American Languages
He fled captivity after beating up his slave master during a card game
He was an excellent marksman
He was a big man over 6 feet tall
It is said he was calm, cool, and collected
He was an excellent detective
If you want a detailed account of Reeves check out this clip.
Some historical clips
In depth look at Bass Reeves
A little dry but loaded with information
5 Facts About Bass Reeves
Some more interesting tidbits about this life
Learn Real African American History…Starting In Williamsburg
Real African American History Is Everywhere. Williamsburg, Virginia, and our African American History Tour, is a great diving off point to learn truth. Start your journey here with us
Williamsburg is a crossroad point of America. It is a physical location that encompasses a historic journey of freedom that memorialized a young Colonial nation breaking away from their dominating origin country. This theme is played out throughout the entire United States, encompassing battlefields, museums, books, personal accounts, and the struggle of many people, especially the African American population.
Understanding American history or African American history will take you on many twists and turns down roads that were forgotten, overlooked, or even just more significant than you may have realized. June is the historical month that the 54th Massachusetts African American Infantry was commissioned and created to fight in the Civil War.
The story was brought into the public forefront more than a century after the war with the movie Glory. It is a great story of the struggle of individuals on a bigger stage against the backdrop of a divided racist nation, battling over the moral and political direction of thousands.
One thing black history in Williamsburg, or the United States can attest to is:
Freedom is not free
There is always a fight. The 54th Massachusetts African American Infantry embodied this both historically and symbolically. As the regiment was populated by many freed slaves as well as led by those whose views were heavily abolitionist, the fight for freedom was an active struggle both
On the battlefields of the Civil War and in the society that would have to accept the African American population as legal citizens and contributors to the society
Taking up the call to fight in a war for your country is one of the purest and most visceral responsibilities of citizenship. The 54th answered the call as harbingers of a people who would become new citizens of a hostile nation. The battlefield for African American citizenship would end victoriously in 1865. The battle for total acceptance into American society had just started…
African American History is a definitely one where you have to approach it is a detective. And not just do you have to investigate untruths but also what I call convenient historical absences. By absences I mean things that just seemed to get forgotten by the history books. African American History suffers heavily from significant contributions that mysteriously do not get publicized in the rich pageant known as American history. I guess that is why a historians work is really never done.
April..Jackie Robinson Breaks The Race Barrier In Sports
Nevertheless sometimes history gets it right with respect to black history in Williamsburg and America. Once such place where the overall public perception is very good would be the Jackie Robinson story. Why I am pulling this story out of the hundreds, if not thousands of potential stories that feature African American historical people and stories. Well, the answer is simple..It is April and this is the month Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
A Rich Historical Account
That alone is a pretty well known fact. Our National pastime, baseball, and America, would be forever changed by this humble historical figure. Ok, that is totally true. He would become one of the best players ever. That is documented. But his life was so much richer, in achievement and historical significance than really gets relayed in a sound bite or two. But for history sake let us go into some quick detail that really builds the dimension of this black historical sports icon.
So I pulled some facts I didn’t know that I wanted to mention here that may not be as well known. Here we go:
Jackie Robinson was an Officer in the US Army During World War 2. Something of huge notoriety in itself
He was not allowed to serve in combat because he refused to sit in a segregated section of a bus in America
He was rookie of the year his first year of Major League Baseball
His number is retired from ALL of baseball..Not Just a Team. This is a huge honor
He received the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, the highest award an American can receive out of the military
He was a huge figure in fighting for civil rights, even after his retirement from baseball
He struggled with diabetes
He was the first African American Vice President of an American Corporation..Chock Full Of Nuts
Every MLB must wear number 42 on Jackie Robinson day, which honors him
He was the first African American TV Sports Analyst On Television For ABC
And there is a lot more..
I could probably go on for about ten more pages, but I think I have done this article justice. Jackie Robinson strove for excellence and justice in just about everything he did. What an incredible American.
The Williamsburg Walking Tour African American Tour
Our African American Tour Of Williamsburg looks at Black history through the interpretation of historical data. By data a true complete history of what actually happened and not historical marketing. Cutting, pasting, and omitting history to create a new history is not tolerable. Our tour is open and honest about the true African American experience in Williamsburg, Colonial America, and beyond.
42 FACTS ABOUT JACKIE ROBINSON
In-text: (Mentalfloss.com, 2018)
Your Bibliography: Mentalfloss.com. (2018). 42 Facts About Jackie Robinson. [online] Available at: http://mentalfloss.com/article/50059/42-facts-about-jackie-robinson [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].
African American or Black History is a critical, and often inconvenient, expose of true unbiased American history. A history that does not paint America or Colonial Williamsburg as a bastion of freedom, but as a hypocritical battle zone of ideals falling way short of historical data.
Mistruths, historical spins, and suspicious omissions concerning Williamsburg Black or African American history make it critical to peruse through multiple sources, accounts, and critical thinking from multiple viewpoints. Luckily these resources exist for an accurate depiction of African American History, its role in Williamsburg Virginia and the United States.
Too Big A Task For One Article…Or Even Ten Historical Articles
History is a funny thing, I have often hear that history is written by the victors. By victors, those that got away with murder, lies, deceit, and a host of other things which make them more criminal then historian. Unfortunately they can omit that viewpoint. If you came out on top in history why would you want to sully that with something as inconvenient as the truth. But that is not history…that is marketing or historical marketing.
Here are some good starting points I found that give an unconventional viewpoint of African American history in the Pre-Revolutionary period concerning the plight of African Americans in this country. Here are some really notable finds from History.org. This particular history sight can give you links to some significant viewpoints and historical information to develop an understanding of African American historical data.
Finding Shocking Facts In Unexpected African American History
One section I would key in on is the section on finding slaves in unexpected places. A quick click of this link will quickly give you a new inconvenient perspective on how prevalent slavery was in the entire Colonies including the Northern States, which have often been historically recognized as bastions of freedom. Historical record shows that there were thousands of enslaved African Americans in towns like Boston and Philadelphia. Even more shocking is you find out that Benjamin Franklin was a slave owner. And apparently historical accounts showed that many slave owners had moral reservations about it. I guess truth is stranger than fiction.
Take Up Your Rifle And Fight.. Freedom Optional
Another article link that was well worth the click was that talking about African Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War. Even with a proclamation allowing the enslaved Africans to win freedom by fighting for the Colonial cause, this really wasn’t the case. Many fought for both sides, as slaves, and stayed that way at the end of the war. In 18th Century America, the British believed in the institution of slavery just as their Colonial brethren.
I guess freedom is very selective, even for those who die on the battlefield, winning it for others.
Wiliamsburg African American History Tour
Our most popular tour by far. This is, in many ways, for the reasons we have talked here. In a world where historical re-enactments seem so convincing, how do you know you are getting the whole story. Unfortunately you don’t. Let us be that contrasting viewpoint to a very convincing display of Colonial American history. Make sure that the people, accounts, and period costumes making that seem so convincing, are accurate.
Williamsburg History Tour
We also offer a walk about history tour of Williamsburg Virginia. This is a fantastic journey into the history of this Colonial microcosm of 17th century life around the political birth of our nation.
There is an old saying, history is written by the victors. If you ever read a native American account of what American Thanksgiving is, you will understand what I mean. Thirty or forty years ago it felt like there was little unrest about what seemed like historical norms. Concerning Thanksgiving:
The Indians in Massachusetts had a friendly harvest meal fostered by the Native Americans helping the colonists
This truth has been carved and etched in commercialized American folklore. As I have written before, Peanuts specials, textbooks, documentaries, and countless Thanksgiving feasts have been built upon this quiet truth. A truth that, as we moved into the late 20th Century.. appeared to be be built on total lies, deception, and murder. Everything about it is nothing more than a commercialized fable culminating with a cartoon turkey and a happy pilgrim. In fact just about everything we took as solid red, white, and blue bedrock has turned to crap. Think about it.
I don’t know when it started but at one point in my youth I heard that Columbus Day was a joke. Columbus was a rapist and murderer that perpetuated a genocide that led to scores more in North America and ended with a nation prospering over a bed of injustice. Wait a minute, Columbus was a hero right? He sailed the sea to discover America and blaze a path that led to the great crimson, blue, and white superpower we are today. Columbus day may have been one of those unfruitful minor holidays that only bankers got off but how could a man we awarded with his own day be this evil? Where did we go wrong in our thinking and make such a tragic mistake? How could we not see that Columbus was nothing more than a Nazi sailing the seas to doom the EXISTING residents of North America? And this shock has followed as one historical event or trusted institution comes under scrutiny as a lie. It seems to be one thing after another. Conspiracy movies, Presidential wiretaps, the reality that our country was built on oppression and slavery and the sad reminders of a decimated Native American nation who live in the shadow of an extermination program our country fostered…
Flash forward to 2017
Following a brutal election season, we were reminded that America is not a coherent symbiosis of Freedom. It is not even a melting pot. It is a mess of lies, mistruths and angry minority groups looking to rewrite a new history challenging the heavily propagandized version we were fed. Maybe a better image would be a melting pot full of things that don’t mix. I picture masses of different material boiling over, cackling, and exploding, with deplorables crawling over the side, leaving the confines of what should be a peaceful creation.
From stories of groups, proclaiming life, then assassinating cops on site, to a struggle of whether to partition a border, we are reminded that our history is a fabric of deleted truths and selfish ambition. We are reminded that no choice really sounds good and no piece of history is really clean. I mean were they founding fathers or slave owners? Are we a prosperous nation, or benefactors of slavery?
Back to Thanksgiving
So I am preparing for Thanksgiving in 2017, light years from an elementary school where I made pilgrim and simplified native American costumes to celebrate this happy holiday. I will prepare a traditional meal full of things that weren’t even at the first Thanksgiving. Not little things like the wrong kind of corn, but big things like turkey (yes, there was probably no turkey at the first Thanksgiving). I am thankful for food, shelter, and clothing, but in the back of my mind I am reminded of a Native American population that views Thanksgiving with resentment and anger, watching the descendants of a group of invaders prospering from their genocide. We are a long way from Charlie Brown Thanksgiving specials now. In fact the first Thanksgiving was not even in Massachusetts in 1621, but in Virginia in 1619, celebrated by a group who would later be slaughtered by the original settlers of the land, the Native Americans. My guess is this Native American group did not view the Colonists arrival and future conquest with “Thanksgiving.” This Thanksgiving story would not have a made a good kids special. Can you imagine a cartoon where we show the colonists lying in a pool of blood while the Native Americans celebrated their freedom from the invaders from Europe, followed by a feast with song and dancing.
Think for yourself
So how do you reconcile all this? I wish I had an answer. I will take the high road and say two things:
Get the facts..all the facts
Think for yourself
Look for multiple opinions and versions of history. Study both and think critically. You will have to learn to live in the ambiguity of knowing that human nature didn’t fade away when Columbus stepped foot into the “new world”. History is messy, bloody, unsatisfying, and often cruel. You will have to write your own conclusions and carefully see different viewpoints, not the easy acceptance of what is fed to you by historical marketers.
Get The Truth…From Williamsburg Walking Tours
We present the truth about Colonial America, Via Williamsburg, with a goal of telling the truth, not marketing something that appears to exonerate the deeds of the path. Join us on a tour now and start to think for yourself.
Mention going to the Williamsburg Ghost Walk or Ghost walk tour to anyone and you will get a mixed response. On the one hand it seems unnatural to pay to be scared while walking the cobblestone streets of Colonial Williamsburg. On the other hand, we, as a human species WANT TO KNOW. We have a deep need for truth. And I mean all types of truth. Whether that history is monumental, sad, terrifying, or part of the realm of the unexplained, curiosity can overrule fear, at least for a while.
Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Tour
Which brings us back to the ghost tour. Every year hoards of people come to hear about the unexplained paranormal past(and present) of Colonial Williamsburg. It is unexplained history. Emotional history of restless people and events that apparently, due to many accounts, are occurring around you with some interval of frequency.
And they cause you to feel fear
Some ghost stories are so over the top that most people probably dismiss them as not even in the realm of possibility. Some ghost style experiences are more caricature and drama shock like haunted houses and haunted theme parks like Howl O Scream (which is a ton of fun). But these scare you and you move on. REAL ghost stories of Williamsburg Virginia’s Colonial era send a chill down your spine. They make you think and they stay with you long after the tour is over.
Real People, Real Lives
These ghost stories aren’t about fictional Halloween characters like Dracula or shredded zombie Europeans. These are REAL people who had issues and problems just like you and I face. Many are unresolved conflicts and emotions, spilling into our time from centuries ago. This is another type of history, real history…or at least really distressing history.
You won’t see this kind of honesty about historical ghost hauntings in the Peanuts version of history either…
By Peanuts version of history I mean the marked up marketed and elegantly packaged version of history that we read about. You never see Charlie Brown look at Snoopy in traditional television specials turning to Snoopy and asking about apparitions in the night. This is just not good for public relations. This is a world where normal people live normal lives in a normal timeline. They are happy stories and nothing is bizarre or out of place.
So bite the bullet and register for OUR ghost tour
We promise to give you the real stories, no matter how eerie and unsettling they are.
Our Contact Information For Williamsburg Ghost Tours
Trip Advisor Reviews of Williamsburg Walking Tours
Millions of people go to Trip Advisor to choose the right food, attractions, and places to stay. And there is a reason they do it. That reason is there is no hiding boring attractions, marginal food, or subhuman accommodations from the vigilant hands of people who have tried them. No fancy ad firms, phony slogans, or jingles. If you really have a good place to visit, Trip Advisor reviews will say so.
5 Stars on Trip Advisor
Getting 5 stars on Trip Advisor is the highest rating you can get. So the fact that we have a 5 star rating is incredible. Our very adherence to truth over historical marketing has struck a nerve with visitors who want history, not alternate history if things were as perfect as some would want you to believe.
Williamsburg Walking Tours offers historical, painfully unbiased and truthful, tours of Colonial Williamsburg,. And the popularity of the truth is shocking. People do not want phony history of how great things were that include omissions of horrible truths that occurred. A good tour is about knowing the truth.
This goal of Williamsburg Walking Tours to give you truthful historical tours has proven very popular. And no place is this more evident, than on our Trip Advisor Reviews. We have placed some of these here in the form of screenshots of reviews we pulled from this site.
Please look around Trip Advisor and review our ratings. You will see that the vast majority rated our tours excellent. This includes our Ghost tour, our African History tour, and our General History Tour. All three are designed to take you into the deep visceral details of what really happened here, not what you see on sugar coated promotional campaign.
For years General Washington had a strategy of survival. His mantra was that even if you couldn’t win against the British in open battle, he could choose not to lose. What I mean by this is as long as the British armies could not openly defeat and decimate the Colonial Army, they could continue to fight on and on in a war of attrition. He knew the longer he could prolong the fighting, the greater the chance of victory as the British army would run low on energy, manpower, supplies and just a general will to win. In the end he was right. It did get to that point as he was able to recruit Allies to help the developing nation and overwhelm a weary British force.
September marks that turning point in the paths of the Colonial American colonies and the British Empire. And it was culminated with a brilliant strategic move by General Washington and General Rochambeau of France to trap the British at Yorktown. Wedging them between the Continental Army on the land and the French Armada by sea forced them to surrender as they became overwhelmed by artillery. The battle alone is a huge strategic victory over well trained, well disciplined forces that would govern a huge number of countries in the world all through the 19th century.
But it was something much bigger than that. We had delivered a titanic blow to the British Empire as they began their rise to Colonial Expansion worldwide. They would come to dominate the 19th century, with interests in Africa Asia and even North America.
It would certainly be a blow that the British were not going to forget anytime soon. In fact another war would break out in 1812 as the British actually invaded young America. Naturally, we resisted and were victors in this conflict as well. Truly the saying that freedom isn’t free is accurate.
Years of struggle
Victory at Yorktown was not an easy one. The area stands as a monument to the eventual triumph of the colonies. But the years leading up to this outcome were marked by struggle and doubt. There was no guarantee that it would be an overwhelming victory like in Yorktown.
In fact when you see Colonial Williamsburg you see a beautiful microcosm of a gorgeous Colonial day. You don’t see the day in and day out struggle that many of these colonists faced in wartime.
Our tours are designed to give you real history. History is not neat and orderly. It is a mark of struggle, sacrifice and is often brutal. Our tours give you the real dimensions of history and history is not gentile. This is a contrast from “historical marketing” or the reshaping of history to fit what certain groups want which you may have experienced elsewhere.
Everything is dainty bright and nice. Beautiful outfits, gorgeous wooden homes. Everything is in place to show A microcosm of a perfect day in Colonial American life. Granted it’s accurate with the exception of the fact that history is not always so nice, forgiving, or even fair.
Colonial Williamsburg is a shining example of successful colonization by the English colonies in the New World. But it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t the first try either. It was a success in a string of very difficult efforts that ended up in disappointing, even deadly endings.
The Not So Successful Colonization..The Roanoke Colony
To really understand the struggle you have to go back to the Roanoke colony in the 16th century. This was an earlier colonization effort in the New World, in what is now modern day North Carolina. August marks the anniversary of the disappearance of this colony from the face of the Earth. Even today we have no idea what happened to them. The settlers were sent there to set up camp and found themselves in the company of indigenous peoples who were much more experienced with the land. And to the best of our knowledge probably did not see foreign settlers as a positive event when they claimed existing territory for themselves.
Even worse, it is very likely that human nature took over. Human nature in any culture, whether native American or European, can very aggressive. How do we know that the native Americans didn’t view the colony as an opportunity for gain, human capital, and blood sport.
No Dainty Costumes Here…
This is not a pleasant thought about colonization. Even in the modern day lost colony rendition of what happened, there is no deep explanation or speculation given as to what happened to them. And this omission is not because others did not think about what I am saying here. It is very likely that the disappearance was marred by tragedy, brutality, and cruelty.
Based on other experiences with colonization in the 16th century and 17th century it is very likely that one or a combination of regular events stepped in to change the destination of the colony on Roanoke Island.
The people from Europe coming to a new climate very likely encountered germs and disease. These could have had a ravishing affect on people as sickness can spread really fast. It is not unlikely that some or all got infected and died. Disease is a factor that can not be overlooked.
If you look at 5000 years of human history it is marked with 0ne group of people conquering another….everywhere. The need for power, domination and resources has influenced one group to attack another for centuries. In fact it hasn’t stopped. So it’s really possible that local groups who did not see the Roanoke Colony as visitors but invaders were targets of the opportunity to conquer.
Even in a land as big as ours it is possible the resources ran out. The Colonies limited understanding of the new world and it’s land could very well mean that they ran out of ways to get food and water. This usually leads to a migration, which is a common practice when resources diminish.
This refers to the fact that in a hostile environment or a new environment, like the New World,people just fall away by attrition. Maybe a few of the settlers got a disease and died. Maybe a few drank unsafe water and died. Maybe a few of the Colonists went hunting or exploring and did not come back. Some may have had violent conflicts with natives. The simple fact is they could’ve just whittled down to such a small number, that they were just a handful of people foraging for survival. And yes, in that scenario it is possible a handful of them could have joined the native Americans.
This might seem cruel, but when I was a little kid seeing the reenactment of the Roanoke Lost Colony, it did not leave me with an easy feeling. Even though I just witnessed settlers marching off peacefully with the Native Americans, I was not at ease that this was a definite, or even likely possibility. What I felt was an uneasy feeling that maybe that’s not what really happened. I was very young and my parents were not going to allow me to see anything but the Peanuts version of history. I mean can you imagine a little kid watching a bunch of people dying painfully of disease are getting slaughtered by natives or worse. It would definitely be an R-rated experience. Regardless of the very classy way of presenting it, I have never been back. I don’t want to say or think about what really happened to the people, because I intuitively feel like I know what happened to them.
Marketing Not History
This is where history gets funny. Mankind starts writing history to fix what he wants us to understand and believe, not what actually happened. I called this fantasy theory and it’s something that we do not do have on our tours because that is not what history is. Making things the way you want them to be, or to pacify feelings of guilt, disgust, or longing, is historical marketing. History is truth. History is messy. History is uncooperative.
The fantasy theory that we all want to believe is that the natives married some of the settlers, and they went off to live with them by choice. From there they must have lived happily ever after.
A Galaxy Far Far Away
I am going to put it in perspective with a hypothetical. Let’s say we colonize a planet that we’ve discovered has life or consistent life. Say you left and came back a year or two later and they’re all gone. Would you assume they just wanted off happily ever after with the local people?
Could you consider the possibility that what they thought life was going to be like on this planet was not the way it actually was And there were some new challenges they were not ready for?
Now let’s put a different perspective on it. Let’s just say in America, in your small coastal town, a group of people just show up. They came off a boat and you did not invite them. Then they set up camp. First they don’t look or talk like the locals. So you send an envoy to them to try and see who they are. As a prudent person you know that you have to at least protect yourself so you make preparations of defense. You and your local group and city meet to talk about who these people are. You notice that they’re using your water resources. They need part of your food. And they’re wandering your lands. Even people who are part of your community aren’t allowed to wander other people’s land without permission. So why would you tolerate this from a group that you see as trespassing.
Do you view these people as friends? Do you see them as squatters, invaders, or do you just accept you must share your land and resources with strangers? Maybe a better question is why would you even entertain the possibility that they have any claim to your land at all?
If you continue this scenario you’ll quickly get to the conclusion that unless these people submit to you and follow your rules they don’t belong in your community. Of course, what happens when they claim your community for themselves and do not want to leave. Maybe you let them stay. Maybe you tolerate them. Maybe you remove them, albeit violently.
The point I am making is you do not see the harsh sacrifice that led to a successful colony like Colonial Williamsburg It is more than just a beautiful microcosm of successful colonial life and colonization. It is the byproduct of sacrifice by many people to get to this point. Human arrogance, naïveté, and just bad judgment cost lives and energy to reach this point. In fact other Colonization efforts would fail en route this success.
Real history encompasses the good and the bad. It encompasses the daily struggle, the risk, and mistakes of mankind to get to a positive outcome. When you look at the Roanoke colony you see that it wasn’t always a Peanuts Christmas but a struggle that we should be grateful they undertook.
Come learn history the real way. Enjoy your real tour of Williamsburg. This is not a PR tour or a marketing propagandized version of what they what someone wants us to say. This is truth..this is real history.
It was a document that would change history. In an era of Monarchs and landed gentry the idea of freedom for all was probably like going to the moon. People do not surrender power easily and a troubled King 3000 miles away would no doubt view the document as rebellious and ridiculous. Without any thought to the possibility, King George, or any pontiff of the day, would quickly dismiss the Declaration as hogwash by a group slated to be crushed by an imperial army. So why do it?
Why The Declaration?
I have read the reason for writing it was as a response to the King’s decree that the founding fathers were traitors. Not that the document would change the mind of anyone, but it does at least serve as a voice from the founders as to why they were rebelling. This is logical since the King never gave a voice to the colonies. This bone of contention continues to be promulgated in this document. Now that all protocol was off the table, there was no reason to hold back on their feelings towards the King. The declaration was the closest thing the future leaders of our nation would have to confront the king with their complaints. It also reaffirms that they were justified in their actions.
In June 1776 a five man team was assembled to draft what would be the Declaration of Independence. The beginning of a new type of thinking was starting. An idea of a nation not under Colonial rule, and not under control of one man, was struggling to emerge. Led by Thomas Jefferson the writers of the Declaration of Independence, would help usher in a new era where common people would have a say in government, not just the elites.
Another oddity of the Declaration of the Independence that many may overlook, is that it was not sent at the beginning of the war. War had been going on in the colonies for a year at this point. War was on and the will of our future nation was pitted against the mightiest empire in the World.
It may seem silly but self expression was a big issue by the Founders with the King. Having no voice fuels a certain type of rage. This rage poured out in the form of armed rebellion. The Declaration serves as a written record of our justification, that they were right to leave English rule. It affirms that the cause was just. It creates a record of why it was done for future generations.
War, would of course determine if this new American idea would be allowed to flourish. Without victory, our American Revolution would be nothing more than a footnote in British history of a rebellious colony and their insurrection. But our Declaration was backed by victory. Our will was stronger than the British. Not just did we declare independence, but we had enough resolve to become a nation.
The fear of losing your guns is not a new concept started in recent political battles of the 21st century. An entire world, an entire nation, was forged when in April 1775 the British went to seize a local militia arsenal. Without guns, the Patriots would have no future chance to ever challenge the crown. Violence ensued and the Revolutionary conflict began.
But The Revolution Did Not Mean Smooth Sailing For The Colonies
Some misnomers about the revolutionary war. This was not a United Nation. We wanted freedom but we only wanted it for certain groups which was a bizarre paradox. We also didn’t completely agree as a colony whether we should go to war. In fact almost a third of the population were Tories or people who still supported the crown. This left another third deciding to stay neutral due to the potential for retribution if the side they selected lost the war. But One third of the population in the colonies that was adamant that they would fight England for independence.
War Support Was Not Universal, In Fact It Was Not Even A Majority
It is a strange parallel to today. The idea that a minority faction of the United States population was so passionate that they would change the political climate for everyone is amazing. Even more amazing was the fact that they succeeded against a crown without a majority of colonial support. The military ramifications of war with England were seemingly heavily lopsided in favor of English victory.
The Sun Never Sets..
The English were emerging as the great empire to come in the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century the saying ‘the sun never sets on the British empire’ would be common dogma in other nations. This was an aggressive expansionist nation, very adept at settling new lands and keeping order in them. Insurrections were not new to them, and one of their new world colonies having an uprising would be something they could suffocate quickly and regain firm control of this land.
On top of that a commander who had not had a successful military career when in the employ of the British empire would be in charge. That man was George Washington and it is safe to say the British did not revere him as a great general.
Colonial Williamsburg is our link to the past
And the war would be felt everywhere, including Colonial Williamsburg in a seemingly peaceful settlement. This town gives us a chance to see a dimensional view of the world that would harbor this revolution and the people who would support it, oppose it, or stay neutral. It is a living recreated historical microcosm of the world of the colonies around the time of the American Revolution. Battles in the future would be fought here and this link to the past is a great way to get new insights to day to day life in this conflict.
Come take a tour of Williamsburg, Virginia that is filled with solid truths that are not sugarcoated for children’s television specials and textbooks. Let Williamsburg Walking Tours show you Williamsburg as IT REALLY was, not how some want it to be remembered.
Of all the topics looking at daily life in Williamsburg, courtship and dating don’t jump out as particularly engaging topics. Yes, all cultures have courtship or dating rituals. This being the month of Valentines Day I felt it appropriate to at least try and promulgate the way this aspect of socialization and life was for the English settler and colonist in Williamsburg, Virginia.
But from the outset I had trepidation about doing it. Not because I am afraid I will discover stories that are too torrid for The Williamsburg Walking Tour blog, but fear that the subject may be too stoic and boring. In fact, when I look at the fashions of the 18th century, I am not exactly seeing the club scene.
Corsets, firm religious values, head to toe clothing, manual labor, and the rigors of modern life do not immediately lead me to believe that eros love was really on the mind of the colonist in York County or Williamsburg. But this is not totally true. As always things are not historically the way we think they should be, but follow a different somewhat less predictable route.
Survival First: Love & Life in the Jamestown Settlement
“Love” in the colonies does start out that way. In fact some of the sources I found portrayed life in the Jamestown Settlement to be focused on word “survival”. Not a lot of courting when life is a daily struggle to eat and survive. Thus, marriage was as much about keeping the population going as satisfying the need to be together. But as time went on this started to change.
Valentine’s Day In The Colonies: Fact or Fiction
The historical record of Jamestown did not surprise me, but what did was the role of Valentine’s Day in the 18th Century. I was almost sure that Valentine’s Day was a commercialized rip off of the exploits of the valiant St. Valentine, who was killed because he married people when marriage was outlawed. I just assumed the holiday was puffed up in the 1920s,1940s, or 1950s into the card and candy creation we celebrate today. I was certain that stoic Williamsburg Settlers had no interest in a fluff holiday like Valentine’s Day. But again, this was not so…
The Colonists Did Do SOME of the things we do today as part of the Valentine’s holiday shindig. According to an article I saw on the History Channel website here are some unexpected facts about the Valentine’s traditions in America.
Colonists did exchange handwritten notes expressing love and feelings
Americans started exchanging them as early as 1700s
Members of all social classes did this
What? Weren’t arranged marriages the way of the world in these times. There is no sending Valentines when you are betrothed to a partner you haven’t even seen until the day you walked down the aisle. But as I researched further I found a statistic which kind of summed up how arranged marriages did not affect every Colonist, or even a majority. In fact this statistic kind of shocks me. It stated:
“30 to 40 percent of American brides were pregnant at their weddings.”
This has be a misprint, but it is not. Apparently love finds a way, even in an era of arranged marriages. In fact I would call this the age of musket weddings(instead of shotgun weddings) since I cannot see any Dad, in ANY era, not pressuring the beau to walk down aisle with his paramour when his grandchild is in utero.
And as I thought about it I am not as surprised as I was at first. I mean we are a rebellious unruly people. We rebelled against a King and the most powerful empire of the day over taxes and our right to be represented. If we would do that, rebelling against Dad and Mom about who you are going to date is probably not that big a deal.
And as I continued to research (I am not even going to touch Bundling bags), there is more and more evidence of a dating independence starting as the Colonies expanded in a new world with no caste and completely malleable social order. I guess this is just another case where we as Americans do things our way. And by our way we follow our passions, on the battlefield, in the state houses, and…the bedroom.
Cooper, R. (2013) 5 courtship rituals from colonial America. Available at: http://theweek.com/articles/462497/5-courtship-rituals-from-colonial-america (Accessed: 1 February 2017).
History.com (2009) ‘History of Valentine’s day’, history.com, .
Citations, Quotes & Annotations
Cooper, R. (2013) 5 courtship rituals from colonial America. Available at: http://theweek.com/articles/462497/5-courtship-rituals-from-colonial-america (Accessed: 1 February 2017).
“30 to 40 percent of American brides were pregnant at their weddings.” (Cooper, 2013)
Note: from article about out of wed lock marriage
History.com (2009) ‘History of Valentine’s day’, history.com, .
Think of Summer time in Colonial Williamsburg and you get visions of kids going to the exhibits, incredible weather, theme parks, and days of endless fun that go deep into the warm evenings. That is the vision many have of summer in this Colonial town. Now Think of Winter time in Colonial Williamsburg.
Not sure what came to your mind but I know I get pictures of snowfall, stoic red brick buildings, a cold quiet somber place, still beautiful but in a different way. Pleasant and happy do not come to mind. There is a reason. Winter often means tough weather and is a challenge to deal with it’s often harsh punishing effects.
The Harsh Colonial Winter
Winter, as a season, a condition, and a challenge have indelibly helped shaped history, even in this urban remnant of our Revolutionary period known as Williamsburg. Thus, I thought it deserved mention as part of history, if nothing more than as a grinding wheel that has challenged our settlers from the minute they experienced their first harsh North American Winter.
I saw a great article on History.org and it became clear that Winter has shaped or helped influence events from the time of the founders onward. Here are some of the interesting facts I pulled about the specter of Winter in Colonial Williamsburg and America. Here they are:
The founding fathers, like Jefferson and Washington, mention their many dealings with the cold hard Virginia Winters in various memoirs and documents of the period
Brutal winters almost ended the Colonization of America in the vicious winter of 1609-1610 in Jamestown in which the settlers were starving, and dying, at a rapid pace
Winter almost wiped out the Pilgrims up North in the Winter of 1620-1621 as they were woefully unprepared with enough food, and knowledge to survive.
Winter, among other elements, shaped the architecture of the day as homes needed to be wood or brick dwellings with a robust centralized stove to heat the edifice. The original huts were just not practical to survival(and kind of depressing).
Not to unlike life in Europe, the shadow of an oncoming winter shaped the preparations of clothing,food, and firewood through the warmer months to survive the cold ones. In fact, this was the pattern of daily life for most since life cannot continue unless certain preparations are made to sustain life at freezing temperatures and brutal weather.
Winter Has Shaped Human History
Winter, even in modern times, has shaped human history. Wars, armies, habits and technology all conform to the will of cold air, ice, and snow. In Colonial Williamsburg, and the rest of Colonial America, it commanded respect and shaped the lives of our Nation as the Founders struggled to develop permanency in this new land.
Want To Find Out More?
Take one of our Williamsburg Walking Tours for a deep uncensored look into real Colonial History. From slavery to hauntings, we do not hold back or create a fictional view of the American experience.
McGrath, J. (2015) Scrub up like a mars-bound astronaut with this water-recycling shower. Available at: http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/the-shower-of-the-future-uses-90-percent-less-water/ (Accessed: 6 January 2017).
Citations, Quotes & Annotations
McGrath, J. (2015) Scrub up like a mars-bound astronaut with this water-recycling shower. Available at: http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/the-shower-of-the-future-uses-90-percent-less-water/ (Accessed: 6 January 2017).