My family and I love to visit Colonial Williamsburg. It’s our go to place for vacation, and a joy we hope to pass on to Bump as he grows up. We’ve enjoyed seeing how the Historic Area has changed over the years, and have been impressed with the scope of trades and personalities we’re able to to interact with during our visits. In the last couple of years, however, we’ve noticed something else.
Colonial Williamsburg isn’t as busy as it used to be.
There are a host of reasons for this decline in attendance, but the reason which holds the most sting for me, however, is the false notion that Colonial Williamsburg is really for latent white supremacists and home schoolers who are looking to have a jingoistic understanding of United States history reinforced. I saw this in a recent SNL sketch with Adam Driver 1. As he was trying to convince a group of White Supremacists that Vermont a white racist wonderland, the leader of the group shot back, “No! We are going where we always go, Colonial Williamsburg. It’s how the world is supposed to be!” The line was funny, but the impact of the assumptions behind it are having a profound impact on the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
On occasion you will find people of the “we want jingoist history” variety at Williamsburg. The reason I know this is because they are usually unhappy with the historic area and don’t care who knows it. And why are they upset? Because Colonial Williamsburg has been deliberate in walking away from jingoist history. And so the lives of slaves are interpreted and described in tours, the extent of slavery is highlighted, and Native Americans can be found speaking about the impact the British Colonies had on their people. Williamsburg recognizes that history must not concentrate on the upper 10-15% of society, because the stories the other 85% of people are every bit as important to the development of our culture. That’s what I appreciate about this place. It’s an free-range classroom which reveals some of out best and most wonderful accomplishments, but is deliberate in uncovering our warts.
If you like history at all 2, Williamsburg is a place worth visiting.