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December 21, 2010

If the seed of democracy could be roasted, ground and brewed, it would have been served fresh daily at Charlton's Coffeehouse in Colonial Williamsburg. The coffeehouse, adjacent to the Capitol, served as the city center and gathering place for a number of our forefathers. Proprietor Richard Charlton liked to welcome gentleman guests on the front porch.

The place never wanted for opinions and lively conversation. Talk turned to tension turned to rebellion when, in 1765, the British passed the Stamp Act. It was an attempt to tax the colonists without the consent of the colonies' legislatures. "No taxation without representation" became the cry of an incensed mob.

After hanging and burning an effigy of the newly appointed stamp collector, they chased the man himself, George Mercer, onto the porch of Charlton's Coffeehouse. Spared only by the intervention of Governor Francis Fauquier, Mercer quickly resigned his post. This dramatic moment and other acts of rebellion set the stage for the events that would launch our American history.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has reconstructed the original Charlton's Coffeehouse - its first complete restoration project in more than 50 years.

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December 21, 2010

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