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November 30, 2007

CW's education outreach asks students to ponder thought-provoking question in new Electronic Field Trip

Colonial Williamsburg’s award-winning Electronic Field Trip series premieres “Founders or Traitors?” Thursday, Dec. 6. Produced by Colonial Williamsburg, the program asks the question – were the men who founded America rebellious traitors or founders of a new independent nation? Perhaps a little bit of both.

“Founders or Traitors?” portrays efforts by delegates to the Continental Congress – Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia, and John Adams of Massachusetts – to achieve a peaceful resolution to the American rebellion.

The program reminds viewers that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress July 4, 1776, but it was not signed until Aug. 2. Even after the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, many Americans still favored reconciliation with Great Britain. Admiral Lord Howe sent Congress the message that there was still a chance for peace in late August of that year. Despite their differing opinions, Rutledge, Franklin and Adams were united in their message to Lord Howe and the British government: no peace was possible unless Britain recognized American independence.

“Founders or Traitors?” also tells the story of the personal risks taken by signers of the Declaration as a result of their actions. Though viewed today as respected founders of our nation, these men faced grave danger supporting independence in 1776. Patriots were seen by some as traitors to Great Britain. Loyalist militia jailed Declaration signer Richard Stockton as a rebel, plundered his home and burned many of his possessions. Four other signers were captured between 1776 and 1783.

Electronic Field Trips are broadcast one Thursday each month from October through April at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern time on participating PBS stations and cable channels. Registered users may also view Electronic Field Trips via the Internet. The programs consist of a one-hour live broadcast which includes a story on subjects from the colonial period through the early life of the United States. The productions are supported with comprehensive lesson plans, glossaries, timelines, Internet activities and online connectivity to Colonial Williamsburg historians.

Internet activities for “Founders or Traitors?” extend students’ understanding of how America’s founding fathers changed from British subjects to American citizens and leaders of a new nation. The program’s Web site includes comprehensive lesson plans, a glossary, suggested Web links and a bibliography. Interactive Web activities guide students through the risks patriots took for independence and provide biographies of prominent leaders of the time.

As the nation’s leading educational resource for early American history, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation uses the Internet and interactive television technology to bring the 18th century to life for more than one million students throughout the United States each year. For more information or to register for the Electronic Field Trip Series visit or contact the Electronic Field Trip registrar at 1-800-761-8331 or by e-mail at

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 – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. 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 in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY (447-8679) or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280