Colonial Williamsburg


Statue of Patrick Henry, Colonial Williamsburg





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Historic first capitol of Virginia, now devoted to colonial America through living history and period architecture.


1. Bruton Parish Church
Built in 1715, the current church was the third Anglican Church for a parish founded in 1660.
2. The Capitol
Reconstructed in 1934, the Capitol originally contained the House of Burgesses, the governor’s council chambers, and the general court.
3. George Wythe House
This brick home was built in 1750 for Wythe, who was a lawyer, teacher of law, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
4. Governor’s Palace
Built 1708—20 for the colonial governors of Virginia, it later served as the residence for Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson during their respective terms as governor.
5. Raleigh Tavern
Originally built in 1717 and named after Sir Walter Raleigh, it was rebuilt in 1932; this is where the House of Burgesses met when it was dissolved in 1773.
6. Peyton Randolph House
Originally built in 1715, it was purchased in 1721 by Randolph’s father — who built a second structure — and willed to his son. Peyton Randolph built a middle structure to unify the whole.

What ultimately convinced Americans that they must revolt in 1776 was not that they were naturally and inevitably republican, for if that were truly the case evolution, not revolution, would have been the eventual solution. Rather it was the pervasive fear that they were not predestined to be a virtuous and egalitarian people that in the last analysis drove them into revolution in 1776. It was this fear and not their confidence in the peculiarity of their character that made them so readily and so remarkably responsive to Thomas Paine’s warning that the time for independence was at hand and that delay would be disastrous. By 1776 it had become increasingly evident that if they were to remain the kind of people they wanted to be they must become free of Britain.

Gordon S. Wood
The Creation of the American Republic, 1776—1787 (1969)