Posts tagged ‘College of William and Mary’

Colonial Williamsburg = Pure Awesome.

Today started out like usual.  I woke up, did my daily routine, and walked out the door five minutes later than I should have. But today, I broke from the norm. Instead of heading up the mountain to Jefferson Library for some quality research time, I packed up my lil’ car and gunned it all the way to fabulous, Colonial Williamsburg.

Of course, the real reason that I was there was to check out the Special Collections archive at the College of William and Mary’s Swem Library for any tasty TJ tidbits and to have a look at the infamous Sir Christopher Wren building – the very same in which TJ attended his college classes. Talk about an “Oh my god!” moment for me – I have spent the past month or so digging into research about TJ and this very building, so it was amazing to finally see it in person. The interior reminded me a lot of Hogwarts, which was pretty cool.

The only thing (okay things) about today that I was sad about was 1) the places where the foundations for the TJ designed expansion weren’t marked and 2) I couldn’t go into the crypt where TJ mentor Peyton Randolph’s (and his misses and several other prominent people from W&M in the 18th century) remains are kept, and 3) I didn’t really find anything that I didn’t already know from another source in the Special Collections archives. However, I would like to note that the Librarians at Swem Library are fantastic, and were willing to help me in any way they could. I also learned how to use a microfilm to PC scanner for the first time today, so that can be added to the list of pluses. 🙂

After I was finished up at the College, I went to have a poke around good ol’ Colonial Williamsburg. First thing on my list was to buy something crazy for my two sisters (Jen and Kate! Look! I mentioned you! :P) back in Massachusetts (Erin – I didn’t forget you either, but you wouldn’t want what I got the other two. You’ll have a gift too though! :)), because what I wanted to get for  them isn’t sold at the Monticello gift shop, and also because I was really antsy to get a spectacular tri-cornered hat to share with Scott. Awesome! 😀

I then made my way to the Governor’s Palace, when I noticed large crowds of families flocking onto the lawn. Then, it seemed like the earth shook as the thundering of drums and sweet fife melodies accented by the sound of colonial marching crashed through the air. A large red-coated (but not THE redcoats, there IS a difference!) corps of Williamsburg’s finest marched their way across the lawn, leaving me stunned in awe in their wake. Listening to drum and fife music is one thing, but actually EXPERIENCING it is a completely different horse. I just stood watching even after they and their hordes of tourist groupies with video cameras had gone by, and one local (I could tell because he was dressed like Ben Franklin) looked at me and nodded as if to say,  I completely understand.

I continued to poke around the historic portion of the town for a little while longer, walking by the open air market stand where one can buy deluxe hand-made (and with Napoleon-esque ribbons!) tri-cornered hats (I settled for a poor man’s plain black one though :P) and floppy-doppy sunhats for the lady. There were also plenty of games, cookware, and writing utensils; so they certainly had something to offer for everybody.

Then six o’ clock came around, and I knew that my time at Colonial Williamsburg had expired. I had a two-hour drive ahead of me, and I sadly shuffled my way back to my trusty vehicle and sped off towards the Charlottesville sunset.

Picture of the Day (and others from today available to view on Flickr):

"Oh hey TJ, whatcha writin'?"

"Oh hey TJ, whatcha writin'?"

July 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm 5 comments

What a Riot – Studying the Happenings of William and Mary During Jefferson’s Student Years.

This morning, I decided to dig into the last and largest of 5 articles that I had printed out yesterday for background reference. At a whopping 38 pages, Mark Wenger’s 1995 article from the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography — Thomas Jefferson, the College of William and Mary, and the University of Virginia — does not fail to disappoint. As is the norm with a lot of historical writings, the first page or few can be quite dry, as was in this case. However, when the author began to delve into the tensions of the mainly clerical-led faculty and board of visitors (of which TJ mentor Peyton Randolph was a member), it seemed like all colonial hell broke loose.

The article outlines a melee and all-out war over control over the proceedings of the school and clerical outrage over the Two Penny Act. The clerical faculty of William and Mary wanted president Dawson to allow them to convene and make a case to the Archbishop of London in the event of their suffering heavy financial losses due to the Act. Dawson refused, and there was a lot of unrest among the college faculty. There then was a fight involving a faculty member’s student brother which resulted in none of them testifying due to their dissatisfaction with the president’s and the board of visitor’s influences over how campus happenings were run. Most of the faculty were expelled, and within the new crop of professors came William Small, TJ’s much admired academic mentor and Jacob Rowe, who (ironically) was appointed the professor of moral philosophy.

Rowe turned out to be a bad choice for the college, as he was given to bouts of public drunkenness and instigating large fights with the Williamsburg townies. This gem from Wenger’s article gives the reader a tiny, tasty morsel of dirt on what was only a fraction of the debauchery:

“…Rowe had involved himself in the ensuing dispute [as a result of a second wave of the Two Penny Act] and was hauled before the House of Burgesses for publicly suggesting that certain members should be hanged and for vowing that he would deny any burgess (sic?) applying to him for the sacrament. To secure his own release, Rowe had to submit a written apology and pay a fine.”

But wait, it gets better:

“Within a short time… Rowe… became notorious for public drunkeness, outbursts against the authorities, and ‘horrid oaths and execrations in their common conversations…’ [Rowe was] accused of trying to ‘destroy the regular authority of the President of the college, and to create and keep up Differences and Parties between the President and Masters.’ ”

On this incident, then Lieut. Governor Fauquier (who later as Governor was known for his outrageous gambling habits) let Mr. Rowe go. Rowe had promised to be a good egg and reform his behavior, but as is with most “badasses” this pledge didn’t last very long. Rowe incited a large-scale fight between townies and college students which resulted in Visitors’ Board member Peyton Randolph confronting him about the incident. This immediately resulted in Rowe shoving a loaded pistol to Randolph’s chest, and resolving to “[threaten] the lives of all who obstructed his efforts to redeem William and Mary’s honor”.

Then, Wenger gets to Rowe’s fate, in which he apparently “suffered immediate dismissal [from the William and Mary faculty]  for his part in this adventure and returned to England in disgrace”. To add salt to the wound, the man who carried out his censure and expulsion was Lieut. Gov. Fauquier. Awesome.

Pictures of the Day (another two-fer!)

My feet, Monticello, April 2007.

My feet, Monticello, April 2007.

The Reprisal - June 2009.

The Reprisal - June 2009.

June 23, 2009 at 12:31 pm 3 comments


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