Sara in Colonial Virginia

A first-year student majoring in English and public relations, Sara is a Dedman Scholar and member of the University Honors Program. During spring 2014, she is enrolled in the Honors history class “The Founding Fathers and Slavery.” The class traveled to Virginia during spring break, with visits to Alexandria, Colonial Williamsburg, Washington, Charlottesville and the plantations of George Washington (Mount Vernon), Thomas Jefferson (Monticello), and James Madison (Montpelier).

Many of the photos on this blog were taken by Lucy, a first-year Dedman Scholar and member of the University Honors Program who is majoring in biology.

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Feasting on history

My “Founding Fathers and Slavery” Honors course left for our flight to Virginia this morning. SMU provided a shuttle bus to get us to the airport, and at eleven o’clock sharp, the bus pulled away from the curb: our adventure had begun! The flight itself was simple enough. Dr. Doyle retrieved our tickets from the counter, and we made our way through security to sit at the terminal. On the plane, our class was relatively spread out, so we had to entertain ourselves with methods other than talking to each other. Personally, I slept— although my classmates used everything else from coloring books to chatting with the strangers beside them to pass the time.

Finally, after a long two-and-a-half hour flight, we felt a bump as the plane wheels touched down. My classmates and I looked around, taking in our first view of Virginia: mountains and snow! As the captain gave his final instructions, we stood along with the rest of the passengers to stretch and collect our belongings. After making our way through the maze that was the baggage claim, our entire class found a pre-arranged shuttle, which took us to the Kipton Monaco Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. Once there, we had just enough time to rest and clean up before dinner.

Dinner at Gadsby's Tavern 2At eight o’clock, my classmates and I met Dr. Doyle and Ms. Spaniolo to walk to dinner at Gadsby’s Tavern, which was down the street from our hotel. When we arrived, we saw a plainly elegant old building with an enormous wooden door. Inside, the old floors creaked as we tread on them, and we stared at the paintings that decorated the walls. Ms. Spaniolo spoke to the hostess, and it wasn’t long before we were led to the very back room. Once everyone was seated, Ms. Spaniolo explained the history of Gadsby’s to us.

“This building has been here since before the Revolutionary War. It was well known for delicious food and prestigious visitors. George Washington himself dined here frequently, quite possibly in this very room. Thomas Jefferson also ate here on occasion, including a post-inauguration banquet.”

We were sitting in the middle of history — literally! Even the waiters were dressed in colonial uniform, and a proprietor wandered around, wine in hand and a witty retort always on his lips. As we munched on fresh salad and colonial bread, the proprietor wandered into our private domain to chat. He was a wonderful conversationalist, although his language was so elevated that we had some trouble deciphering his comments. Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. Some of us stayed after dinner to talk to him, and he told us many stories about the colonial era. He even let us take a picture with the “new-fangled” contraption around Lucy’s neck (the camera)!

Dinner at Gadsby's Proprietor

With the Proprietor at Gadsby’s

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