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February 5, 2007

CW's Presidents Day programs examine people who helped found a nation

During Presidents Day Weekend, Feb. 17-18, Colonial Williamsburg examines the contributions of the people who helped shape this country on the eve of the American Revolution.

Saturday, Feb. 17

  • The Great Men in Williamsburg: The Founding Fathers–George Washington and Thomas Jefferson at the Capitol. Tours are held every 20 minutes beginning at 10 a.m. The last tour begins at 11:40 a.m. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson played significant roles in the momentous events that occurred at the Capitol. In 1780, Gov. Jefferson speaks about his early experiences as a lawyer in the General Court before the Revolution and his efforts to rewrite the laws of Virginia once he became governor. In 1781, Gen. Washington talks about his tenure as a burgess from 1759-1774. He also will discuss his close friendship with the last royal governor, Lord Dunmore, in the years just before the Revolution.
  • Comrades All, 11, 11:20 and 11:40 a.m. and noon, Mary Stith Shop. In 1779, retiring Gov. Patrick Henry discusses the friendships and political relations he has had over the years with Gen. Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and with Thomas Jefferson, who was just elected to succeed Patrick Henry as the next governor of Virginia.
  • A Public Audience with the First President, George Washington, 1 p.m., Kimball Theatre. President Washington looks back over his long career in public service. He reflects on his years in the House of Burgesses, the American Revolution, serving as commander-in-chief of American forces in the War for Independence and his leadership in drafting the Federal Constitution, which led to his election as the first president of the United States. Reservations required.
  • I Remember the Time: The Marquis de Lafayette Remembers George Washington, 2 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. A young French aristocrat, the Marquis de Lafayette, was only 19 when the news came that the American colonies had declared their independence from England, France’s ancient foe. Trained in military matters and the arts of war, Lafayette traveled to Philadelphia in June 1777. He presented himself to the Continental Congress, declaring that he was eager to assist in the cause of American freedom. The congress conferred on him the rank of major general. George Washington and young Lafayette soon became friends. Lafayette referred to Washington as his “adopted father” and took him as his avowed role model. Serving as American-French liaison officer and leading an elite unit, Lafayette speaks about the commander-in-chief and his participation in the Revolutionary War. Reservations required.
  • To Washington’s Health, 7 and 8:30 p.m., Capitol. Using both British and American sources from Washington’s lifetime, the Virginia Company performs a variety of popular music of the era, including period drinking songs, ballads, dance music, and toasts to Washington’s health. A separate admission ticket is required.

    Sunday, Feb. 18

  • The Constitution and Its Ratification, noon, 12:20, 12:40, 1:30, 1:50 and 2:10 p.m., Governor’s Palace East Advance Building. On Sept. 17, 1787, the Constitution of the new United States was adopted by a special convention commissioned by the Congress to form a new government. The president of that convention was George Washington and the principal author of the new document was James Madison. The Constitution was transmitted to the Congress, who then submitted it to the 13 states for ratification. Over the course of that ratification period, from December 1787 through June 1788, Washington and Madison corresponded with each other and with Thomas Jefferson, the U.S. ambassador to France, about the new proposed government and its chances for ratification. Meet these gentlemen and discuss with them the letters they have sent and received from their friends and political allies.
  • Washington as Symbol: A Historian’s Perspective on the American Icon, 1 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Colonial Williamsburg historian Kevin Kelly explores the Washington myth so integrated into American historical memory and also talks about the man behind the myth.
  • The Founding Mother: A Conversation with Martha Washington, 2:30 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Hear the first First Lady’s reflections on the world that she inhabits, her thoughts about motherhood and matters of the spirit and her opinions of her adored and adoring husband. Reservations required.
  • Salute to the Presidents, 4 p.m., Market Square. Colonial Williamsburg’s Founding Fathers, military programs staff, and Fifes and Drums celebrate the institution of the presidency and the citizens who have served in that office over the centuries. We also recognize the states most closely associated with each of the presidents, either by birth or residence.
  • An Evening with the Presidents: The Role of the Executive and the Bill of Rights, 7:30 p.m., Kimball Theatre. Join Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in a discussion about the executive’s challenge in protecting the nation while upholding the rights given individuals under the Constitution’s’ first 10 amendments. A separate admission ticket is required.
  • Palace Concert: From Coronation to Inauguration, 7:30 and 9 p.m. An elegant evening of music in the home of the first two governors of the new Commonwealth of Virginia–Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. A separate admission ticket is required.

    A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor Pass or College of William and Mary student ID is required to attend the daytime programs.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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