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tv   American Artifacts Colonial Williamsburgs Governors Palace  CSPAN  August 15, 2021 9:00am-9:20am EDT

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story of the governor and his family who fled the city on the
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eve of the american revolution. >> here at the colonial williamsburg foundation. i work with not only our textile and quilt and needle work collection but with furnishing all the exhibition sites at the foundation. we're at the governor's palace. it would have been the symbol of power and authority for the british crown, and it would have represented power to the colonists of virginia. the building was the home of seven royal governors, including alexander, the first royal governor who took office in 1710. it also would have been the home to our first state governors, patrick henry and thomas jefferson. the house was a very important part of the design of the town of williamsburg. the town was -- had a very orderly design and the palace
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would have been part of that design. it was the third largest building in town. it consisted not only of the building that we're standing in, but also two standings, extensive gardens with falling terraces, a canal. there was a laundry, a kitchen and even a cellar. we know one governor had over 5,000 -- actually almost 6,000 bottles of wine stored in his cellar. the house today is a reconstructed building on the original archaeological site. it was finished and open to the public in 1934. and since that time, it's undergone a number of refurnishings and reinterpretations. today we furnish the building as the governor dunmore was living here with his family, his wife and six of their children arrived in virginia in 1774, at
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the end of that year. at the end of the year, they gave birth to a daughter whom they named virginia. unfortunately things went a little sour in the relationships with the governor and the virginians. in june of 1775, the governor and his family fled the palace in darkness, never to return again. today we furnished the building as accurately as we can. we use primary documents such as inventories taken when the governors died -- an inventory would be taken of their personal possessions. we use letters describing the palace accounts, also a floor plan that's been drawn by thomas jefferson when he was living here as governor. apparently he had thought of remodelling the palace and drew a detailed floor plan, interior walls, staircases and
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dimensions. it moved to richmond virginia and thomas jefferson never had the opportunity to do that remodelling. the governor's palace was also a fashion statement. it was here that the colonists could come to see the latest fashion from england, the latest forms of silver, of furniture, and printed textiles. we're going to give you a tour of the governor's palace with one of our costumed interpreters. >> welcome. welcome. this century hall was to impress everyone coming to see the governor and to impress them of virginia, the best of the
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colonies, we don't want anyone to forget that any time soon. these are i suppose a tradition for our governors here. you go to the big castles over in england, i'm told, that there are weapons on the walls. but these are not the governor's personal weapons. these are all part of virginia. they're hanged by our militia. that way these can be taken down and use them in virginia's defense. they have several times actually our governor, lord dunmore took some weapons off the wall just last year, when he went out west. he went out to the ohio territory. it's part of virginia. he fought the shawnee indians out there and even returned here to his house with a few young
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shawnee warriors, who are living here awaiting for their peace treaty, which might get very interesting seeing as -- well, i'm not sure if you have heard the news yet. it would seem that our governor lord dunmore ran out the back door in the middle of the night last night. interesting times. you would think he would feel safe here in this house, but apparently not. normally he would attend to his business right here at the palace, a good bit in this parlor over here. you might notice there's a desk here in the parlor. that is for his secretary. although apparently he and his wife left last night as well.
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i think he's taken some of the servants with him as well. the professional english housekeeper, she would have never left the pantry door wide open like that. all the valuable things in that pantry. well of course the governor would be coming back. why would they leave all of these things behind in here, especially all of these? 540 weapons in the display. oh, and they are virginia's weapons. i just mean i do not think the governor wants you having those right now, considering we do not have an official militia at the
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moment. our governor dissolved the government here before the new militia bill was signed, but now we have something different. our representatives decided to meet anyways without the governor's approval. apparently mr. patrick henry made quite the speech in richmond, something about [inaudible]. but now we have independent companies. because of that speech, virginia now has a group of armed men in every county in virginia all angry at england. well, that may have something to do with the governor leaving town last night. but seeing as they're not here, what do you say we go up stairs and see the private chambers of the family? right this way.
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here we are. quite a few stairs up to this floor. i suppose that's the trouble with high ceilings, so many stairs. but this is the largest bed chamber in the house. oh, it belongs to lady katherine and lady augusta. they are the oldest of the children. they are is a and 14 years of age -- they are 15 and 14 years of age. i think they left in a hurry last night. you see these young ladies have the largest bed chamber because they also take their lessons here in the house. that bed over there is for their governess, yes, a french governess. we may not like the french, but
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we do like their style. very important that these young ladies speak french. they will be present to the royal courts. their father has a seat in parliament. but now the governor's taken his entire family off to [inaudible]. they are sailing up the york river at the moment, which means they are all sharing cabins on a ship. seven children and the governess and their nursemaid and the servants, oh my. i'm sure they're wishing they had this much room again. oh, lord and lady dunmore's chambers are over this way. we will pass through a guest room here as well on our way.
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i know. i knew you would like it. oh, lord and lady dunmore share the bed chamber right over here, if you want to take a look. it is not like they will know the difference. oh, yes, they do share. it's not unheard of you know. but they actually share this entire suite of rooms. lord dunmar has his own dressing room through the next doorway there, where you see the chamber stool, the chair with the
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hole -- right, yes. and then here we have lady dunmore's dressing room. much bigger of course. oh, and i'm told the latest fashion is to have the curtains match the walls match the furniture. it is all silk. oh, you see the covers are on the chairs right now because it is summertime. it is to protect the furniture from the dust, from the insects, from her children. goodness, poor lady dunmore, she only arrived here last year. oh, it's true. she arrived here to join her husband, brought six of their children with her. she arrived here in february of 74 and then ten months later, a
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new member of the family, their new baby daughter they have named lady virginia. yes, she's just turned 6 months old. imagine that trip last night with a 6 month old. actually this room here used to be the governor's office, nice big private room for an office, but then the countess joined him and his desk is now in the dining room down stairs. though we will see that dining room on our way to the ballroom. exquisite, isn't it? our last governor, he paid out of his own pocket to update these rooms in the latest style. he was a bachelor, you know,
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loved the throw balls. -- loved to throw balls. he even had these warming machines put into the rooms back here, very ornate, coal burning, you know. not many out here burn coal, except for lord dunmore. but lord dunmore owns his own coal mines. that does help. but you see, it is expected of our governors here that they hold these large celebrations, these balls in honor of their majesties, king george iii and queen charlotte. our last ball was in january, for the queen's birth night. though i doubt we will be having a ball in the king's honor any time soon, you know what i mean? it is just that everyone's so
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angry about the governor these days. you know, it happened back in april. a group of british sailors went over to our magazine, and they made off in the middle of the night with the colony's gunpowder. well, everyone here certainly outraged, and the governor has not given back that powder yet, so apparently, he's ran out in fear of his life. oh, they ran out of the house at 2:00 in the morning, through the back door, which is right through here in the supper room.
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much better than that dioping room you saw before -- much better than the dining room you saw before. much better suited for the occasion. you can only see a dozen or so people in that dining room. of course, though, dinner is the largest meal of the day. usually serves about 2:00, 3:00. so your largest meal is in the afternoon, and you have a light supper in the evening. so we serve a supper during the ball here, on the china. oh, that china even has the [inaudible] on it. he's left quite a bit behind here in this house, and i do not just mean furniture. well, the governor has a very large staff here on this property. over 20 paid servants, a dozen servants, and 57 slaves on the property. now, those hired servants, they have gone off with the family,
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but the rest of those servants and slaves, they're still here. i do not know about you, but if i were one of the governor's slaves right now, and i did not know if he was ever coming back, well, i might just take the opportunity of the governor being out of town. well, if the governor does not come back to this house here, what are they going to do with the place? all this fine furniture, might want to remember your favorite pieces in the house here, just in case. and of course there are the gardens here as well. i hope you enjoyed seeing the governor's palace.
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>> today our visitors see a mixture of reproduction objects and antiques in the governor's palace. these objects and furnishings are all based on the latest research that we can provide. the governor's palace is just one of many exhibition buildings and trade shops that are available for the modern day
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