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The Colonial Pageant was presented behind the Wren Building on July 4, 1921. The Pageant's participants consisted of William & Mary faculty, students and Williamsburg residents. Earl Gregg Swem wrote the pageant and it was arranged by a committee of Mrs. J.M. Haughwout, E.G. Swem, Dr. John Lesslie Hall, H.L. Bridges, Dr. R.M. Crawford, J.B.C. Spencer, W.C. Johnston and Dr. D.J. Blocker.

The setting for the five scenes was the Capitol Building on Duke of Gloucester Street, but in 1921 that old building was long gone and the 'new' Capitol was not to be build until 1932.

The Pageant marked the passage of resolves by the British Parliament, looking toward the enactment of a stamp tax to be assessed upon the American colonies. The first scenes are of the General Assembly of Virginia convening in October, 1764. The scenes acquaint the audience with the procedure at formal openings of the General Assembly. Before adjourning in December, 1764, the General Assembly adopted a memorial to be presented to the King of England and Parliament presenting the colonial views on the passage of a stamp act.

Scene Five takes place the next year in March with Patrick Henry introducing his famous five resolutions in protest to the enactment of the stamp act. The scene ends with the adoption of Henry's resolutions after an acrimonious debate.

During the pageant a minuet was danced. Most of the colonial costumes were sewn by the participants and many in the audience wore colonial outfits as well.

Material in the Special Collections Research Center

  • Oversize photographs, Anne Chapman Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, William & Mary.
  • Committees Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, William & Mary.


  • Box 2, Folder 9, Acc.No. 1999.48, Carlton Casey Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, William & Mary.


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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.