The Bicentennial of the Constitution- Williamsburg, Virginia - 1987
The convention of high school students that met in Williamsburg to rewrite the Constitution was sponsored by the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at the College of William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law. The reenactment served not only as an educational exercise but also a model for other such programs as a way of getting people to learn more about the Constitution drafter at the 1787 convention.
Winners of a national essay contest sponsored by USA Today, the students – from every state and U.S. Territories – were assigned roles as representatives of the original 13 states. Prior to the convention, the students did substantial research that exposed them to the same type of political considerations faced by the framers of the Constitution.
The Williamsburg setting was in the Hall of the House of Burgesses in the reconstructed colonial Capitol. The only modern intrusions were cameras and microphones taping a documentary for public television.
The convention’s president, Rob Nagle of Williamsburg, portrayed George Washington. The lone costumed participant, he had played the role earlier in a similar convention for Virginia high school students.
“It has been very exciting to receive letters from the young people after their Williamsburg visit,” said Dr. Fredric I. Lederer, William and Mary Law professor and the convention director. “They have all described the program as a major event of their lives, something they will never forget.” The students found it difficult to explain to friends and families their thoughts and feelings. As one of the delegates said, “You just had to be there.”
Rob Nagle as George Washington
In session at the Capitol Building in Colonial Williamsburg
Reading a story about the Constitution to students from Matthew Whaley Primary School on National Teach-In Day