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American Village field trip

September 16, 2011

The Bean’s history studies bring us to the New World this year, so we will be spending a lot of time on American history in the coming months. Last Friday we went on a fun field trip to The American Village in Montevallo, where we participated in or watched several vignettes in which reenactors took us through several scenes in Revolutionary America.

We started out at a Stamp Act riot, in which the reenactor stirred up the mob of students against King George, his taxes, and most especially his Lord of the Treasury, George Grenville. The mob scene culminated in hanging Grenville’s effigy. I found it quite disturbing, actually, but it gave me a good reason to talk about propaganda and mob manipulation with the Bean, so there’s that. 🙂

George Grenville: not popular in the colonies!

Next we had a visit with Thomas Jefferson, who mused about his upcoming project: writing the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, the acoustics in the chapel were pretty awful, so we only got about every fifth word. Also, the lighting was bad, so there is no picture. Oh well. We’ll get plenty of TJ this year anyway.

The kids all seemed to enjoy their musket training with Alexander Hamilton, one of George Washington’s lieutenants. He informed them that he would not be wasting muskets on such raw recruits, so they had to train with broomsticks.

Musket training with broomsticks. Watch out, redcoats!

Being a costume enthusiast, the Bean particularly enjoyed the discussion of Colonial fashion. A lady would wear a chemise  under her petticoat(s) and “coat.” A coat could extend to the floor as the one shown below or be a  shortcoat or simply a bodice. She would wear a mob cap to cover her seldom-washed hair, and when she was going out she would put on a hat over the cap and also wear a neckerchief for modesty and sun protection.

Here you can see the reenactor's mob cap, full coat, chemise, (the white bit showing around her neckline), and petticoat (the skirt in the lighter-colored fabric).

We also had a visit with George Washington, who explained some confusion about his birthday. Hew as born in Virginia on February 11, 1731, according to the Julian calendar. However, according to the Gregorian calendar, which the British adopted in 1752, he was born on February 22, 1732.

Finally, we participated in a spy mission with our hostess Mrs. Darrough, a Quaker in whose home British officers were quartering and planning their strategy. She would hide, listen to the strategy, then sew a note into a covered button on her son’s jacket. Her son would go to a tavern and inform the tavern keeper he had no money to pay for his meal. She would accept his buttons as payment, then relay the secret message to patriots.

We had to shop the gift shop, of course, where we picked up a mob cap (necessary gear for learning about the American Revolution), a copy of the Newberry Award-winning book Johnny Tremain, and some awesome Revolutionary War toy soldiers, which Buddy has thoroughly enjoyed.

Obligatory pillory picture.

The Bean in the stocks.

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