Posts in history

Williamsburg black history

Williamsburg Black History

February 4th, 2018 Posted by African American History, Black History, history, williamsburg No Comment yet

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.williamsburg on site history lectures and tours

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.

Williamsburg HistoryFinding 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.

Join Us. Here is a link to more information


References

FINDING SLAVES IN UNEXPECTED PLACES

In-text: (History.org, 2018)

Your Bibliography: History.org. (2018). Finding Slaves in Unexpected Places. [online] Available at: http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Winter05-06/slavery.cfm [Accessed 1 Feb. 2018].

 

THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

In-text: (History.org, 2018)

Your Bibliography: History.org. (2018). The African American Experience. [online] Available at: http://www.history.org/almanack/life/af_amer/aalife.cfm [Accessed 1 Feb. 2018].

 

roanoke colonies

The Cost Of Colonial Success In Williamsburg

July 17th, 2017 Posted by colonial history, colonial traditions, history, traditions, williamsburg No Comment yet

The Cost Of A Successful Colony Like Williamsburg

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_price_of_colonizationThe 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.

Disease

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.

roanoke coloniesConquest

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.

Resources

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.

Attrition

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.

Fantasy theory

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?

Flip it

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.

Sacrifice

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

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.

 

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Colonial Williamsburg And The Long Cold Winter

January 11th, 2017 Posted by history, williamsburg, winter No Comment yet

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, imageshabits 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.

For more information go here


Check Out Our Articles On  Life As It ACTUALLY was..

Here are some other topics about real Williamsburg history

Bibliography

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).

(McGrath, 2015)