As a walking-tour fanatic, I know that visitors and residents alike enjoy having dots on a historical timeline connected. And many are surprised to learn about the wealth of history that came before and after the FOUR years that almost every story written about Richmond leads with. As development efforts for Shockoe and Main Street Station get fleshed out and as talks about a planned slavery museum in Shockoe continue, we came up with a proposal that made a heck of a lot of sense: the linking of our sites from Revolutionary times through the civil rights era with a single word — "liberty."
With input from local historians ranging from our own Harry Kollatz Jr. to UR President Ed Ayers, writer Chris Dovi gives us "America's Liberty Trail. "
And you can be among the first to "travel" the trail on June 15, when we'll board a chartered trolley in Shockoe Slip and do this liberty loop. Go to richmond magazine.com/libertytrail for tickets, which are $20. (Also, on Saturday, June 16, don't miss the annual torchlit slave trail walk by Elegba Folklore Society at 8 p.m.)
"America's Liberty Trail" highlights characters whom Richmond can claim and should tout as its own newsmakers: Patrick Henry, John Marshall and Gabriel Prosser, among many others.
"America's Liberty Trail" can stand alone or be a Southern complement to an incredibly successful effort in Boston called The Freedom Trail, which focuses on 16 Colonial and Revolution sites. Coincidentally, a journalist conceived Boston's trail. In March 1951, daily newspaper columnist Bill Schofield took up the cause of bridging all the sites that he liked visiting. He egged on the mayor and the chamber of commerce to figure something out, and three months later, The Freedom Trail became a reality. Millions have come to recognize the name and walk Boston's streets because of it.
Three months, folks. Three months is all it took.
Yes, we are easy to love because of our rich array of historical sites. And yes, we were the Capital of the Confederacy for four years. But Richmond has been central to the story of our Constitution and the debate over liberty for 225 years, and we need to make that known.