Colonial Yorktown, Virginia
By Catherine Millard
A visit to Yorktown, Virginia, is a rare treat for those who love America’s rich founding period history. The visitor is greeted by a tall, imposing monument entitled the “Victory Monument,” standing sentinel on the edge of a promontory. Three damsels, each with a star upon her head, stand erect upon a pedestal, the base of which bears these inscribed words: “One Country – One Constitution – One Destiny.”
This memorial to America’s heroic past represents the bloodshed and sacrifice that preceded the birth of the new nation. The following lines, inscribed upon the front base of the statue, are descriptive of how the battle was won:
At York on October 19, 1781, after a siege of 19 days
A left-hand side inscription reads:
The Provisional Articles of Peace concluded November
To the right-hand side of the base we read:
The Treaty concluded February 6, 1778 between the
Colonial Grace Church of York-Hampton Parish gives forth these historic lines upon a bronze plaque on its front façade:
A national shrine at the Cradle of the Republic.
General Thomas Nelson, Jr., whose handsome, Georgian-designed colonial mansion is open to the public, lies buried in the grounds of Grace Church. His epitaph reads:
General Thomas Nelson, Jr., Patriot, soldier,
The above indicates not only Nelson’s prominence as a great American statesman and patriot, who fought valiantly for America’s freedom, but also his status as a man of Christian caliber and virtue.
However, upon visiting the Nelson House, one is historically “entertained” with drama, composed by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and enacted by characters impersonating Nelson’s wife, Lucy and John Robinson Grymes, the brother of Lucy Nelson (who has loyalist sympathies). General Thomas Nelson, Jr. does not feature in the cast, although his house is worthy of teaching colonial, Revolutionary War history, which this famous personage embodied. The seven-age script enacted during the 1989 summer season, could be summed up in two words: “rewritten historic trivia.” It is here excerpted:
Lucy: Good afternoon everyone! Welcome to our home! I am so glad you were able to accept our dinner invitation following the completion of Court today. But, I must extend the apologies of Mr. Nelson to you. He was unexpectedly called away to Williamsburg this fine May morning to attend the Virginia Convention being held in the Capitol building. Apparently his presence was much needed, for Thomas had anticipated leaving tomorrow. He begs your forgiveness, but my brother John is here. He too attended court today and came to visit just moments before you. He and I will do our best to be your host and hostess for dinner….John, our guests have arrived from court. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to my brother, John Robinson Grymes.
John: Good afternoon! I am so please you accepted my gracious sister’s dinner invitation. I stopped by the check on her well-being. I worry about her when she is alone. (John holds Lucy by the hand).
Lucy: John, you have always been a dutiful brother. What would I do without you? (Lucy affectionately pats John’s hand). So, John, tell us what you experienced at court today? Was it as busy as most?
John: Yes, indeed, it was an eventful court day. I always look forward to these court day “festivities.” Remember that problem the town was have with Mr. Jacob’s swine running rampant through the streets?
Lucy: Yes, that inconsiderate man! His hogs were getting into everything, destroying plants and flowers and leaving their droppings scattered all over town. What a disgrace!
John: Mr. Jacobs was fully aware of the county ordinance prohibiting swine from going about at large and the court saw fit to fine him seven pounds. I believe this will convince him to keep his swine penned up.
Lucy: I hope you are right. Do you think he’ll appeal his conviction though? He’s such a spendthrift you know.
John: He might. Since the court fined him more than five pounds he can appeal to the General Court in Williamsburg. You know, I think Mr. Jacobs would appeal to Satan himself if he thought the Devil could save him a shilling!
Lucy: No doubt! But tell me of Margaret Jones. I heard about that terrible fight she had with John Butterfield along the waterfront last week. I heard she scarred his face. Tis true?
John: Tis true, and the court did not look favorably on her actions. She is such a harlot anyway. The court sentenced her to be dragged by a boat’s stern through the river right here along the water in front where she committed her crime. Oh that I could see that! It’s been a long time since I’ve witnessed such punishment. I can’t recall, however, if they drag the poor wretches by their ankles or their wrists. Can any of you? (John poses the question to the guests).
Lucy: What a sad fare for anyone, but perhaps her behaviour will change for the better. But tell me about the Charlston orphans, John? What of their fate?
This dramatic “historic” presentation concludes thus:
Lucy: Please forgive me, but my brother’s departure has upset me greatly. I hope you will understand that dinner must be postponed as I need time to be by myself. If you would be so kind as to go downstairs now, one of my servants will be able to show you out. I hope we can soon meet again, under happier circumstances. Thank you for your kindness and good day.
The above is yet another poignant example of America’s rich founding period history having been obliterated to nothingness. It also shows a psychological abuse of the thousands of Americans visiting the mansion, who, after being “invited to dinner” by a founding father, are then discourteously shown out by a servant, and who are being subjected to this hodge-podge of irrelevant data and utter confusion. (Excerpted from,
The Rewriting of America’s History © copyright 1991 by Catherine Millard).