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February 12, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg presents special Presidents Day weekend programs

Colonial Williamsburg presents an abundance of special programs during Presidents Day weekend Feb. 15 – 17. All of the presentations explore the lives of the three Presidents — Washington, Jefferson and Madison — who first plied their political skills in 18th-century Williamsburg. The programs begin Saturday morning and conclude Sunday evening.

The weekend begins with “Breakfast with the Presidents” — a delicious buffet served 8:30 – 10 a.m. with opportunities to discuss with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison their terms as president. Guests learn what life and public office were like for our nation's first leaders. Reservations required, adults $32.95 and children $16.95 including tax and gratuity.

“The Great Men of Williamsburg” comes alive as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison discuss how their lives were shaped by their experiences in Williamsburg and the roles that each played in momentous events that occurred at the Capitol. General Washington talks about his service as a Burgess from 1759 to 1774 and discusses his close friendship with the last royal governor, Lord Dunmore, in the years just before the Revolution. Governor Jefferson speaks about his early experiences as a lawyer in the General Court before the Revolution and about his efforts to rewrite the laws of Virginia once he became governor. Madison recalls his role in the drafting of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and his successful efforts to push for adoption of Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom. Presented at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Capitol. A Revolutionary City admission ticket is required.

Meet two enslaved men, Joe and Dick, at the Gaol and discover how their quest for freedom led to their incarceration. “God Save the King” is presented at 10:15, 10:45 and 11:15 Saturday, Feb. 15.

Joe and Dick appear before the Committee of Safety in the afternoon. They were caught attempting to runaway to join the British Army. How will the Committee of Safety respond to the actions of these two enslaved men? Listen in on the testimonies during “The Examination of Joe and Dick: Black Loyalists” at 1, 1:45 and 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Courthouse of 1770.

A highlight of Presidents Day Weekend is the Saturday evening presentation of “Wolf by the Ear, Thomas Jefferson and the Pursuit of Freedom.” In March 1820, Thomas Jefferson awaits news of whether or not Missouri will be admitted to the Union as a free state, signaling the eventual abolition of slavery in the United States.

Jefferson reflects back to the Revolution and crucial moments when slavery had been debated, leading to the current crisis over Missouri. Appearing in his recollections are Patrick Henry, Haitian revolutionary Jean Jacque Dessalines and Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Representatives. The drama is accented by live music from the early years of the republic to the Civil War. “Wolf by the Ear, Thomas Jefferson and the Pursuit of Freedom” is presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 in the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

Taverns were vital centers for the exchange of information and sharing news of events at the time of the Revolution. Hear the people of Williamsburg discuss the events of the day coming from actual newspapers that were read in 1775. Presented continuously 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, Feb. 16 at the Raleigh Tavern. Admission ticket required.

“The Duties of the President's Wife: A Conversation with Martha Washington” explores the role of the first First Lady as she decides what part she should play as her husband is called to serve his country once again in 1789 as President. She understood well her role as wife, mother, grandmother and plantation mistress. Although few gave thought to what Martha would do as helpmate to the president, she knew herself to be a symbol of womanhood in the new republic. Now it is time to define a role that will serve as a model for centuries. Presented at noon Sunday, Feb. 16 in the Visitor Center Theater. Seating is limited to 250. Any Colonial Williamsburg ticket or pass will provide admission.

“A Public Audience with the Third President, Thomas Jefferson” offers President Jefferson’s thoughts as he looks back over his long career in public service. He reflects on the American Revolution, drafting the Declaration of Independence, his tenure as governor of Virginia during the war, serving as ambassador to France and as the first Secretary of State, all leading to his election as the third President of the United States. Presented at noon and 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16 at the Courthouse of 1770. Seating is limited and a free separate ticket is required.

“A Public Audience with the First President, George Washington” recounts his long career in public service. President Washington reminisces about his years in the House of Burgesses and how it prepared him for later roles. Washington remembers what it was like serving as commander in chief of the American forces during the War for Independence and reflects on his part in drafting the Federal Constitution, which led to his election as the first President of the United States. Presented at 2 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb.16 at the Courthouse of 1770. Seating is limited and a free separate ticket is required.

“Salute to the Presidents.” The Founding Fathers, the Fifes and Drums, and the military programs staff celebrate the institution of the Presidency and the citizens who have served in that office over the centuries. Proud to recognize the states most closely associated with each of our Presidents, either by birth or residence, Colonial Williamsburg celebrate the presidency — the highest office in the land. “Salute to the Presidents” is presented at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16 on Market Square. No ticket required.

Presidents Day weekend concludes with “An Evening with the Presidents.” Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Madison present a lively and thoughtful discussion about how they as Presidents interacted and negotiated with the Congresses of their times. “An Evening with the Presidents” is presented at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16 in the Kimball Theater at Merchants Square. A separate $12 ticket is required.

Guests also may experience an elegant evening in the candlelit ballroom of the Governor's Palace, featuring chamber music performed by The Governor's Musick at 7:30 and 9 p.m. Sunday. Between the coronation of George III in 1761 and the inauguration of George Washington in 1789, more than the political situation changed in America. Hear firsthand accounts of the pomp and circumstance — and music — that surrounded these two important events. “Palace Concert: From Coronation to Inauguration” requires a separate ticket: $15 adults, $7.50 youths.

For more information, visit To make reservations for Presidents Day Weekend events, telephone toll-free 1-(855) 296-6627.

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley