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Williamsburg History

Colonial Williamsburg is the historic district of Williamsburg, Virginia. It was the original colonial capital from 1699 to 1780.

Early in the 20th century, Colonial Williamsburg started to be rebuilt. It is one of the largest historic restorations ever undertaken. 

Many other structures have been restored to their original 18th century appearances. Most buildings are open for tourists to look through.

Visitors today American Revolutionary War history exhibits, and the town jail, which includes an authentic stocks and pillory display. Other important buildings  include the large Capitol and the Governor's Palace,

All the workers are in costume. They work, dress, and talk as they did in the era,  The Historic Triangle of Virginia is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.

On May 13, 1607, at a small low-lying wooded peninsula, virtually an island, the Jamestown Settlement was established on the south side of what is now known as the Virginia Peninsula by English colonists.  The first meeting of a representative government group in the American colonies was held at the Jamestown Settlement on July 30, 1619, making Jamestown the first Capital of Virginia.

Middle Plantation, College of William and Mary
Middle Plantation was originally established in 1632. It was located on high ground about half-way across the Virginia Peninsula between the James and York Rivers.

After the State House at Jamestown was burned in 1676 during Bacon's Rebellion, the House of Burgesses met at nearby Middle Plantation. the
College of William and Mary was founded in 1693 .

George Washington received his surveyor's license from the school. Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall were among many of Virginia's (and the country's) future leaders who received their education at the College of William and Mary.

Williamsburg becomes Capital

The statehouse in Jamestown burned again on October 20, 1698. Once again, the legislators had to meet at Middle Plantation. The next year the capital was moved to Middle Plantation to escape malaria and mosquitoes in Jamestown Island. Soon Middle Plantation was renamed Williamsburg.

In 1705, the first Capitol building in America was built at the end of the Duke of Gloucester Street. Williamsburg was to be the capital of Virginia for the remainder of the Colonial Period. It was the center of the political and social life of Virginia for most of the 18th century.

Famous members of the House of Burgesses  included Patrick Henry, George Washington, George Mason, and Thomas Jefferson.

During the American Revolutionary War, in 1779, the Capital of Virginia was moved to Richmond, about 55 miles west and there it is today.

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