The 300 Year Old Relationship: The Town and Gown of Williamsburg

Reading Thaddeus W. Tate, Jr.’s article on the relations between the locals and students of Williamsburg made me realize the continuity here and the complex and ever-changing role we (both students and the host community alike) play as a vital part of the community. It seems as thought the relationship began in terms of the co-existence of town politics and the foundation of the College, with James Blair bearing the royal charter in 1693. Apparently, one young orator said, “the Colledge will be a great help towards the making of a Town and the Town toward improving the Colledge,” setting the stage for a successful vote to bring the functions of education and government together.

I was surprised that it wasn’t until 1729, that the six professors came on offering advanced instruction in moral and natural philosophy, two main components of liberal arts in the 18th century, and in divinity. I originally assumed that those courses and options would have been already at the College. I also found extremely interesting the battle between the College and the town during the Revolution.

Towards of the end of Tate’s article, he does briefly mention the retirement communities within Williamsburg, adding another reason to the town’s expansion over time.

1 Response to “The 300 Year Old Relationship: The Town and Gown of Williamsburg”


  1. 1 dcpratt February 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    There is plenty of boosterism in Tate’s tone, but you definitely get the sense from his essay that, although William and Mary has been in town for over 300 years, it hasn’t always been the venerable institution it is today! How does Tate’s essay compare to Chappell’s and Oxreider’s in terms of tone, content, purpose, etc.?

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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