Life is defined by belonging: our family, town, organizations, belongings, even the time into which we are born. I attended a teachers’ institute at Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago. That town preserves what belonged to another time period, so that we, of the 21st century could understand somewhat what it felt like as patriots and loyalists, all British subjects, clashed, and then hashed out new plans in the taverns, church, and legislature all situated on the mile long walk down the main street.
Our trainers immersed us in the life of the time. Four of us from Tulare County joined six others from California, a few from Pennsylvania, some from Georgia, one or two from New York, and we lived as a group for one week. We belonged together for a week.
Our guide, Bunny, embroiled us in an 18th century court case in which a Baptist minister was tried as a criminal because he preached from a Baptist pulpit, not from the one true church the Anglican Church. “The law of the land from 1624 mandated that white Virginians worship in the Anglican church (Church of England) and support its upkeep with their taxes.” ( Religion in Early Virginia.) We had to decide his fate.
One of our members, Jami Beck, volunteered to participate during the trial.
We learned how to fire cannons and muskets.
We danced, and sat around a properly set dinner table sharing the latest colonial gossip.
We visited with tavern owners who served George Washington on a regular basis.
Slaves let us enter their farm-house, feel the tobacco they harvested, smell it hanging in the barn. But in all the authenticity of belonging to that time period. There was always something that didn’t belong.
Actually there were many things. What do you think belonged, and what didn’t?