By John Frances Mercer
"...where civil government is preserved free, there can be no religious tyranny--"
2007 marks the 250th anniversary of General Lafayette's birth. Born into wealth and privilege, Lafayette nevertheless was an enthusiastic supporter of both the American and French revolutions. As one of the drafters of France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (La Déclaration des droits de l'Homme et du citoyen), he asked his good friend, Thomas Jefferson, to look over the wording, as the U.S. ambassador to France had experience writing documents for posterity. Having served faithfully in our American revolution, Lafayette was and is highly regarded as a friend to America. Just this year, Congress passed a measure that granted Lafayette honorary American citizenship.
By Philip Vickers Fithian
From the Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, A Plantation Tutor of the Old Dominion, 1773-1774
Editor's note: the spellings are to period and from Mr. Fithian's diary.
La[s]t night we had a Gust of Rain & Thunder; very acceptable—To Day in course Mr. Christians Dance happens here--He came before Breakfast—Miss Jenny Washington came also, & Miss Priscilla Hale while we were at Breakfast
By G.B. Wallace, interviewed by John T. Goolrick
Major Michael Wallace, of the American Revolutionary Army, was an enormous man, more than six feet six inches tall, broad and powerful. He was a brother of General Gustavus B. Wallace, and after he had fought through the war with distinction, he and the general, bachelors, returned to live at "Ellerslie," the family home, where their mother and father were still living.
Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia
In Two Volumes
By Bishop Meade
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1894.
From volume II
Overwharton Parish, Stafford County.
I come now to Overwharton parish in Stafford county. The county and parish take their names from the corresponding ones in England. Stafford county once extended up to the Blue Ridge Mountain. In the year 1730, Prince William county was formed from the "heads of King George and Stafford." Overwharton parish was also coextensive with Stafford before Prince William was divided and Hamilton parish taken off. In the same year,--1730,--Overwharton parish was divided and Hamilton parish taken off. Overwharton covered the narrow county of Stafford, and Hamilton the large county of Prince William before Fauquier, Fairfax, and Loudoun were taken away. Stafford, in its original dimensions, first appears as a county in 1666.
At times, a sense of things past seems to envelop tourists and residents who stroll quietly along Fredericksburg streets at twilight or drive through a countryside still scarred by the battles of the Civil War. Some swear that more than a general sense of the history of the place overwhelms them. At twilight, at midnight, or even at high noon, specters and shades of those whose place this was may return to their homes and habits to pray, to flirt, to dine, and to stroll, to fire their rifles and march in formation, or lie wounded in hospital beds, wearing uniforms of gray or blue.
Beginning a three-month tour of the Southern states in April of 1791, President George Washington came, unannounced, to Fredericksburg from Mt. Vernon.
Without delay, all forces were organized and an elegant dinner was prepared at Fredericksburg's Market-House/Town Hall to honor the hometown boy. The principal inhabitants of the corporation amassed at the brick building at the west side of Caroline Street, just below Market Alley.
When we think of Fredericksburg history as it relates to Sophia Street, we immediately bring to mind a few specific remaining structures and sites as we see them today: The Toll House at the foot of Rocky Lane; the present Half Way house at Wolfe and Sophia Streets, once an early tavern. The Center for the Creative Arts, referred to as the Silversmith's House; and the Sandstone Warehouse at the bridge at Sophia and William Streets.
Alum Spring Park is a 34-acre woodland retreat off Greenbriar Drive with a playground and hiking trails. Its sandstone cliff, also known as the Alum Spring Rock, is 400 feet long and 40 feet high.
With steaming cups in hand, today's Fredericksburg area coffee shops continue a tradition which dates back three centuries to the founding of the town.
Walk in gentlemen, rest at your ease,
Pay for what you call for, and call for what you please.
This verse hung over the doorway of The Coffee House in old Fredericksburg. Located in the first Market House/Town Hall on Caroline Street near William, it was here that 18th- and 19th-century Fredericksburgers sipped their favorite brew and pondered questions from the political to the classical.