Saturday, July 9, 2011
Patrick Henry, a Book and an Interview
The last person I expected to see during Colonial Williamsburg's Under the Redcoat weekend was Patrick Henry, the spitfire who ignited a revolution. If I were him, I'd be making myself scarce. After all, the Redcoats marched into town en masse Friday afternoon and set up their encampment in Market Square with the audacious Banastre Tarleton leading them on.
In fact I tried to make myself scarce! However, someone caught my attention! The manager of the Visitor Center Bookstore saw me standing near Chownings refreshment booth. He always comes to meet us with gracious greetings, making us feel warmly welcomed! Ahem, unlike those pesky Redcoats!
While chatting with me, the manager showed me that he was there with his bookstore table set up behind the Chownings refreshment booth, to meet the author of the day, George Morrow. He has written 4 books, each about 100 pages in length, about different people of Williamsburg in the 18th century: Patrick Henry, Governor Fauquier, Lord Botetourt, Arthur Lee, and Lord Dunmore. In fact, the manager said that Patrick Henry himself had just been there and had been arrested by the Redcoats! "What?! And I missed it????" I mean, "Horrors! He should know better than to show himself to those brutes."
Then I got to chatting to Mr. Morrow about his books and somehow that led to my telling him that I homeschool, not with textbooks for history and literature, but with real books. I asked him if he was the author who had held a book signing in April with Colonial Williamsburg's Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson in attendance, debating each other. He said he was! I told him I had wanted to come to that but it didn't work out. After a great deal of chatting, I bought the books! Mr. Morrow personally autographed them for us! While the manager rang them up, he introduced me to the author. Wow, what an introduction! The manager definitely made me, an everyday guest, feel special.
After settling into bed that night, I pulled out one of Mr. Morrow's books titled, The Greatest Lawyer that Ever Lived: Patrick Henry at the Bar of History. Wow! It was fascinating! I read about 90 pages when I fell asleep. It's not your typical biography. Using a lot of primary source documentation, it gave many examples of his greatness as a lawyer and orator. Then he shared how Thomas Jefferson tried to, hmmm, how to put this...after Patrick Henry died Thomas Jefferson tried to make people think Patrick Henry was less than he actually was. In the early 19th century, after Henry's death, William Whirt worked on a biography of Henry. Whirt wrote President Jefferson for some recollections of their interactions. After all they were both burgesses in Williamsburg before the Revolution. Jefferson was not the most cooperative communicator in the world, preferring to mislead Whirt. There was no way Jefferson wanted the world to glean from Whirt's biography that Henry could possibly have positive qualities. Throughout are quotes from their correspondence to each other.
However my favorite part of the book is the preface, written by none other than the actor who memorably portrays Colonial Williamsburg's Patrick Henry! In fact, I had taken the book to dinner with me that night and had read the preface out loud to the kids! We were laughing and laughing at the humor and behind the scenes look of what it's like to BE Patrick Henry! I found excerpts from the book here, although I cannot find it at the CW online marketplace. However it is sold at the Visitor Center Bookstore.
The next morning, I decided to pack the little book in my colonial basket. I was to be in costume that day. I wanted to finish the book during dinner that evening, while waiting for our evening program. I thought if the Redcoats found the book in my basket, if they dared to search me, it could make things interesting. ;) All along I knew I'd be safe because I know the password! It would be fun!
That morning we were walking to the Mary Dickenson Shop from Market Square and we saw Patrick Henry and a couple of guests standing under a tree in front of the Roscow Cole House. In fact, his face was nearly in the tree branches. Ah, he learned his lesson from the night before to hide from those Redcoats! But I wondered why even be on the streets? I don't usually see him on the streets, especially during Under the Redcoat. The kids wanted me to ask him to autograph my book but I wasn't so sure. I doubt he would, especially since I didn't know who the guests were. Then he saw us. "Greetings, friends! Welcome back to town!" We smiled, waved and said hi. We weren't sure that he wanted us to walk over and interrupt or join his visit with the guests. We went on to Mary Dickenson but it was closed. We turned around and walked back, but he was still busy with the guests. Then a lady walked up and said my name. I had to think a moment. Turned out it was one of my blog readers, Lucy! She said she'd be there and would say hi to us if she saw us. As we stood there talking, a guy came to interview me while a camera shot footage. That completely caught me off guard!
Now I know who the guests were with Patrick Henry! He was talking to Captain and Clark from Best of the Road! Williamsburg has been named as one of 6 most patriotic small towns in America. Captain and Clark are on a mission to visit each of the six nominated towns to find the most patriotic one. I was interviewed not by them, but by one of the RV team members! All of the following videos were done with Captain and Clark. They are exceptionally well done! Look for the ones with Patrick Henry!
June 24, 2011-Let Freedom Ring
June 25,2011-Williamsburg Day 1
June 26, 2011-A Taste of Williamsburg, Virginia
June 26, 2011-What is Patriotism in Williamsburg?
June 27, 2011-Captain and Clark Visit Williamsburg
June 27, 2011-Jamestown the Cradle of America
June 27, 2011-Williamsburg Wrap Up
Then this was posted later about press releases...
July 4-Hot off the Press
You can see all of the Captain and Clark travels here.
I didn't make the cut for any of those videos, but then I was interviewed by the RV guy, so, hmmm... The interviewer asked me about whether my husband was in the war, as he knodded his head to the British troops. Caught completely off guard, with a movie camera shooting us, I realized, I'm in costume, he might want me to answer in character. He asked me a couple more questions, was really friendly, almost as if he knew what my mental struggle was but he really wanted my input. I figured out how to answer his question while drawing from my experiences as a modern day military wife (although my husband is retired now and purposely avoids those pesky Redcoats by staying home!) As I started answering the interviewer's question, he seemed to like what I was sharing and kept me going with more questions. I don't know if they'll ever be published or not, nor if it came out well on camera at all. Nevertheless it was quite a memorable experience and was a lot of fun.
I found the above videos by following the blog linked on Best of the Road. The announcement for most patriotic town in America will be announced in a few weeks! Stay tuned for that and more Under the Redcoat adventures!