Today was another full day at Colonial Williamsburg. We spent some time at the Colony of Virginia Capitol building.
Our guide was excellent and explained there were two houses of the Legislature The lower house was the House of Burgesses (meaning elected officials) that were elected by the people and the upper house was appointed by the Royal Governor. The upper house members could pass their positions down to their heirs. Sounds like the deck is stacked for the governor.
The Capitol also housed the courthouse where felony cases were held. The lessor crimes were heard by the lower courts in the individual towns. The punishment for felonies was death. You could only be pardoned by the Governor (who was also the judge and just heard your case) or the King of England. However, you could ask for mercy. If granted, you received a brand from a red hot branding iron to the inside fleshy part of your thumb, so even if you moved to a different town, others were know you were a convicted felon. This limited your ability to get a job or get credit.
One of the most interesting places was the Silversmith’s shop. Finished silver pieces were imported from England, because the British did not want the colonies to produce finished goods and compete with them. However, when a silver piece had served its purpose and a person wanted something else, they would take it to the silversmith, who would melt it down and make whatever item the person wanted.
There was a silver tea kettle on display that sold for $15,000 and took about a month to make. Silversmiths and blacksmiths made about the same amount of money. Slaves were even trained to be silversmiths and one slave in particular was so good, that when his master died, he was sold to another silversmith for today’s value of $80,000, an enormous amount even in today’s economy.
Over to the blacksmith’s shop was a big barrel chested man who was one of the blacksmiths. However, he explained that most blacksmiths of the time looked more like long distance runners, lean and strong.
However, women were also trained as blacksmiths and there was one in this shop. Note she did her work in a dress. All of the women had stays in their dresses to give them support as they worked. When war was declared, the blacksmithing skills were much more in demand that those of the silversmith.
The blacksmith’s shop, the leather good shop and the tin shop were all part of the armory. The armory simply meant anything that was needed by the military. The young lady at the leather goods shop made lots of leather britches.
We also paid a visit to the College of William and Mary, arguably the oldest college in the country, founded in 1693.
Well, probably way too much history for the day, but as you can see, we have been really busy. Thank goodness there was a bus to take us back to the main visitor’s center. We have met people from all of the country, today from Maine and Alaska. We shared how we were traveling and living in an RV and they all wanted to know more. I even had one gentleman on the bus that told me as we were leaving, that he was listening in on the conversation and was fascinated.
Some of the benefits of living in our RV are that we get to sleep in our own bed every night. We can just grab a snack from our own kitchen whenever we want and use our own shower, sink, and toilet. We know who has been in all of these. We get to take along the things we like to have with us. For Lynette, it is her sewing machine and gear. I can’t think of a better way to travel. Flying everywhere, staying in hotels, and eating out all the time is fun for a while, but it get’s old pretty quickly. Sometimes, I just want to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pour a glass of milk, and lay down on the couch and read.
If you would, let me know what you think would make the blog better. Too much history, not enough RV travel related items, more about the people we meet? Whatever you think, let me know.