Saturday, August 27, 2011

September 2011 Events

(latest first)

Sunday, September 18, Noon-4 pm
Stafford Heritage Picnic

Manahawkin Lake Park
49 West Bay Ave
(Rte 9 and Main Sts)
Manahawkin, NJ

Colonial Revelers will stroll around the lake and sing at this great multi-era living history event.

In the early part of the decade, Stafford Heritage Days took up a whole weekend and included a reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Bridge, the last engagement of the Revolution (darn those New Jersey loyalists!). Living history groups of all eras showed up, including colonial pirates, temperance ladies, a vintage baseball team, and the most eerily realistic General Grant, Chamberlain and Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln you'd ever want to meet. Then the recession hit, resources were limited and the project was put on hold. This year, we're glad to see a  comeback. Come out and join us. It's always fun.


Sunday, September 11, 11 am - 3 pm
Battle of Brandywine Reenactment
Brandywine Battlefield
Route 1
Chadds Ford, PA

Colonial Revelers will provide period music in the living history area whenever guns and cannons are silent.

The Battle of Brandywine took place on September 11, 1777 and was the largest battle of American Revolution, with Washington's forces numbering about 15,000 and the British with perhaps 17,000 troops. Washington held a decent position on the hills above the Brandywine Creek, but he was in a loyalist/pacifist neighborhood. Deliberate misinformation, poor communication, bad reconnaissance and inexperienced soldiers all contributed to the American defeat, yet they were able to retreat to Chester and regroup. The British were hampered by the heat of the day and the length of time they took to march around the American flank to ford the creek.

Come tour Washington's and Lafayette's Headquarters, view living history demonstrations, eat colonial food and, of course, hear Colonial Revelers sing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In The Good Old Colony Days

by Elena Santangelo

Between the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution eleven years later, the United States had no federal government and no federal taxes.  A Tea Partyers dream.

Only a loose Confederation held the states together.  Each state had its own laws, ways of raising revenue, and even its own paper currency.  Then again, not many folks wanted the bills anyway. The only money worth anything was gold and silver coins, and they were hard won. In those years, after fighting an expensive war, the country was broke and in its first economic depression.

Many of the soldiers who fought in the Continental Army weren't given their back pay or pensions. The states had their own militias to worry about. Greedy men took advantage of the situation, like the Morrises, who held a monopoly in trade agreements for tobacco.

Here's an old 17th century song that resurged in popularity during that decade:

In the Good Old Colony Days
When we lived under the king,
Lived a miller and a weaver and a little tailor--
Three jolly rogues of Lynn.

The first line says it all. In the 1780s, lots of folks lamented the "good old colony days" before the Revolution. The song goes on to tell how the miller stole corn, the weaver stole yarn, and "the little tailor, he stole broadcloth for to keep the three rogues warm."  The poor and working classes in America could more than identify with the rogues' need to provide themselves with food and clothing.

However, all sinners must be punished so

The miller drowned in his dam,
And the weaver hung in his yarn,
And the Devil laid his Claw on the little tailor
With the broadcloth under his arm.

Eventually, though, the Constitution provided for a strong and flexible Federal government and decent trade with Europe was established, bringing Americans fancy French imports like flannel, denin and corduroy (giving little tailors a wider choice of fabrics).

Still, while the America of the 1780s wasn't the government-less Utopia some citizens envision today, there was no Capitol Hill, and no Congress as we now know it. So how bad could it have been?

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