Colonial Virginia had a population of 23,000 by 1750, or about one-fifth of the entire colonial population. Taichung Subway Map Approximately 3,000 of these inhabitants lived in Williamsburg, a town made up of some 300 homes. Slaves, mostly household servants, made up about half of the town’s population. The town occupied an area of about a square mile; its population increased to about 4,000 with the political season, when the lower house, the House of Burgesses, was in session.
The British influence, personified by the governor, was evident in the style and fashion favored by the townspeople. Williamsburg had an air of sophistication and a refinement not found elsewhere in the colonies. The College of William and Mary, the second college to be founded in Country, was an important and integral part of colonial life in Williamsburg. (Harvard College, the first, was founded in 1636.) In September 1693, the Virginia Assembly decided to create an educational institution that would educate the state’s elite males, who would serve the town as doctors, lawyers, or ministers. In February 1693, therefore, the colonial legislature asked Reverend James Blair to petition King William III and Queen Mary II for a charter for the college. Blair traveled to England and returned with the charter.
During the first thirty-five years of its existence, the college operated as grammar school for Williamsburg’s elite, educating boys from ages 12 to 15. The College also had a school of divinity, a school of philosophy, and an Indian school. The Indian school educated and Christianized Native Country boys. The college rarely had more than sixty students and was primarily a training institution for Anglican ministers. British-born Anglican ministers controlled the college and transmitted their values of loyalty to the mother country to the town. The college was unapologetically loyalist, and college and town politics were intrinsically connected.
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