Skip to comments.Colonists prowl Trenton: City’s pivotal role in Revolution is saluted
Posted on 12/27/2005 8:14:42 PM PST by Pharmboy
It was a gray, bleak winter afternoon the day after Christmas, but the city was buzzing with Colonial activities yesterday.
And, that was just the start.
For the next five days and nights, Patriots Week celebrates Trentons pivotal role during the American Revolution with reenactments, art, music and literature.
And, if yesterdays opening events are any indication, then this second annual history blitz has caught on quickly, as bigger-than-expected crowds turned out all day.
Out on South Warren Street in the late afternoon, Patriots Week Manager Amy Brummer wore a wide smile as family after family arrived at Gallery 125 for a rendition of a Colonial-era "Punch and Judy" puppet show, complete with live music.
The fife and drum band had just marched its way over to the Marriott Hotel, where a crowd that was three times bigger than expected had to be shifted to the hotel ballroom for a "Revolution 101" primer on General Washingtons comings and goings in Trenton and Princeton in 1776.
After that, historians acting in the roles of Washington and British Generals Howe and Cornwallis entertained about 150 discussing their military tactics and taking questions.
"Were very excited about the big turnouts on our first day," Brummer said. "This being our second year, we got the word out there better than last year. We couldnt have done it without the internet."
George Washington depending on the internet?
Todays Patriots Week events begin this morning with an exhibit of Washingtons famous "Letter to the Ladies of Trenton" at the Wachovia Bank branch on West State Street.
There are so many great events today and the rest of the week that a history buff could keep busy night and day.
There are walking tours and bus tours covering the 10 crucial days Washingtons troops spent here--days that historians conclude were the turning point in the war.
There are lectures, concerts and even a dinner at the Marriott hosted by George and Martha.
It all concludes on Saturday, with reenactments of the first and second Battles of Trenton on the same city streets where the1776 fighting actually occurred, with British and Colonial troops trying to outsmart, outmaneuver (and outshoot) each other from Pennington Avenue to the Old Barracks to the Battle Monument to Mill Hill Park.
Undertaken by the Trenton Downtown Association, Patriots Week most definitely drew out-of-towners to the city yesterday and the goal is to draw consistent crowds the rest of the way.
For up-to-the-moment information, visit patriotsweek.com or trentonhistory.org, the site of the Trenton Historical Society.
People in Iowa or elsewhere can only read about Colonial history and Washingtons troops. We here in Trenton bump into the history every day, and, for the next few days, well be bumping into the troops, as well.
Carl Barbati is editor of The Trentonian. He can be reached at (609) 989-7800, ext. 201 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Follow up column:
Dont shortchange historic importance of tea
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Column By Carl Barbati
TRENTON--If you listened to historian Stacy Roth yesterday afternoon, you might think the whole world revolves around tea.
Thats right, tea.
At the very least, Roth makes a good case for teas importance in the birth of our nation, going back to a little "party" in Boston Harbor circa 1773.
"Imagine," she said, "the destruction of a beverage led to revolution."
Wearing a Colonial outfit, Roth entertained a sold-out crowd in the Mercer Room of the Trenton Marriott with songs, stories and tastings as part of Patriots Week, a six-day celebration of the citys pivotal role in the American Revolution.
Of course, everyones heard about the Boston Tea Party, but how many of us knew that similar anti-tea demonstrations took place soon after? One such event took place in downtown Princeton, as supplies of tea were burned in protest over Englands latest tax on the colonists.
But what was it about tea that made it so important in the late 18th Century?
That was at the crux of Roths presentation.
While the Chinese had been drinking tea for hundreds of years, Westerners from Portugal and Holland first acquired it from China in the 1600s, but it was a rare delicacy that might have cost an average worker two months salary to buy a pound.
Tea leaves made it to England when the monarchy returned in 1660. The exiled King Charles II had been living in Holland and his wife was Portuguese royalty.
So, tea instantly became the beverage in Britain, and, as more and more was imported from China, the price dropped to make it available for one and all.
The serving and drinking of tea became a status symbol in the 1700s and a woman might be judged by how she set her tea table and how she handled the developing social etiquette of serving and drinking the beverage.
It became a mark of social standing, not to mention the fact that men and women both liked the taste.
Roth had put three kinds of tea--black, green and shotgun--on all the tables and guests got the chance to try brewing their own and holding their teacups in any of the socially acceptable manners of the time.
And, she said, its easy to know how families of the late 1700s and early 1800s set their tea tables because many families posed for their portraits around the tea service.
During the American Revolution, she said, colonists had about a dozen types of tea available, and General Washington was known to be a huge consumer of the stuff.
He especially hated any dinner party or social function where he considered the tea too weak.
"There was no crime worse than weak tea," Roth said. "Washington loved his tea and if anyone served him weak tea he would note it in his journal."
So, there it is-- father of our country, statesman and tea snob.