An Upgrade for Ye Olde History Park





WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Patrick Henry was sitting just to my left in the Virginia House of Burgesses as the debate raged about the events that had been following the Boston Tea Party. Mr. Henry was a brilliant hothead, of course, though not yet moved to pose his famous nonnegotiable alternatives, demanding liberty or death. But when Governor Dunmore of the Virginia colony strode into the room, even Mr. Henry rose, out of respect to the authority of the king, as did we all, even those of us carrying digital cameras, umbrellas and souvenir bags...

Colonial Williamsburg, where all this took place (about 150 miles south of Washington), is variously called a historical village or a living museum. But that means much more now than it once did. Aside from dramatizing historical controversies, the town is also caught up in living ones: debates about who writes history and how it is told, about what historical realism is and how it should be portrayed, even about what aspects of our past are to be celebrated in this strange combination of education and entertainment...



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