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January 23, 2002

Presidents Day weekend at CW examines lives of America’s first chief executives

The city that nurtured fledgling political careers as it gave birth to the ideals and values shaping early America celebrates Presidents Day weekend at Colonial Williamsburg with special programs Feb. 16-18.

The Williamsburg connections of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison begin the holiday weekend programming. The three presidents spring to life as visitors engage them in spirited conversation 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Saturday during "The Great Men in Williamsburg: The Founding Fathers at the Capitol." Other residents who knew the Founding Fathers offer their perspectives during "I Remember the Time…" at:

  • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Patrick Henry, firebrand patriot and first governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and wealthy planter and legislator John Page discuss the presidents’ politics at the Raleigh Tavern.
  • 2 – 4 p.m. The Marquis de Lafayette offers his French perspective at the East Advance Building of the Governor’s Palace.

Washington addresses the citizenry and responds to questions at 1 p.m. during "A Public Audience with the First President" at Colonial Williamsburg’s Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square.

"Thomas Jefferson, a Conversation With the Third President" takes the stage at 2 and 3:30 p.m. in the Hennage Auditorium of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Seating is limited and required reservations may be made at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket location or by telephone at (757) 229-1000, ext. 2937.

Saturday events draw to a close as John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore and the last royal governor of the Virginia colony, hosts "A Palace Ball," attended by Washington and Jefferson, at 7 p.m. in the Governor’s Palace.

Sunday programs begin with the presidents’ written communications dominating discussion in the East Advance Building of the Governor’s Palace. During "Letters Between Friends," Washington provides insights about his letters from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., followed by Jefferson at noon to 1 p.m. and Madison from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Sunday events also include:

  • Colonial Williamsburg political specialist Kevin Kelly offers a historian’s perspective on an American icon during "Washington as Symbol" at 1 p.m. in the Hennage Auditorium, while the first First Lady adds her viewpoint through a character portrayal during "A Conversation with Martha Washington" at 2:30 p.m. in the Hennage Auditorium.
  • The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums and a militia artillery crew salute the nation’s presidents at 4 p.m. on Market Square as Washington, Jefferson and Madison observe.
  • Four former presidents gather at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the Kimball Theatre for "An Evening With the Presidents." Franklin D. Roosevelt joins Washington, Jefferson and Madison for a spirited discussion of the role of the president during a national crisis. A special ticket is required for this program.
  • The evening ends with 18th-century concerts, "From Coronation to Inauguration," at 7:30 and 9 p.m. in the Governor’s Palace.
  • The fourth president receives visitors from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday in the Hall of the House of Burgesses at the Capitol during "An Audience with Mr. Madison."
  • Presidents Day weekend programs end as visitors glimpse the lives of Washington, Jefferson and Madison through the eyes of prominent 18th-century women of Williamsburg–Betty Randolph and Elizabeth Wythe–during "I Remember the Time…" 10 a.m. – noon at the Peyton Randolph House.

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281