Saturday, September 04, 2004

Tramping Through History 

I've spent the last week with the family tramping through history. We went to the founding English Colony of the New World -- Jamestown and its successor, Williamsburg, and then the battlefield that ended conflict with Britain -- Yorktown.

It was fascinating to see how communications worked in the past and lies passed off as truth. Jamestown and its environs were described as pleasant places to live with endless riches in natural resources. When the first settlers landed in 1607 on a peninsula of the James River, surrounded by swamps and filled with malaria and other diseases, six out of seven of all original settlers died within a year. About 90 years later, the capitol of the colony was moved 10 miles away uphill to Williamsburg where there were fewer swamps. The heat was and is unbearable. We were there on a late August day with the humidity standing at 100 percent and the temperature in the high 80s. Walking left one soaked to the skin. Still later, the capitol of Virginia was moved to Richmond, even farther up the James River where it is a bit cooler.

Communications were vital to the functioning of Williamsburg and there were examples of newspapers, posters and advertisements posted throughout the restored 18th Century town. At Yorktown, communications took less of a role other than a visual reminder to the trapped British from the French fleet just offshore that no provisions could reach the army, and the colonists and French who surrounded the British on land were going to win the day.

It was a fun and educational week and a reminder that communications and persuasion have always been important factors to the functioning of societies.

It is time to get back to work.


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