The Colonial Internet
In the modern world if you need news fast you can turn to your phone or computer. Want to know what your neighbors or friends and family are up to? You can always go to Facebook or Twitter to find out who’s doing what to whom at any hour of the day. Besides gossip and outrage, we have also seen the Internet used to spark resistance and rebellion to perceived outrages and threats. Heck, we have even seen Twitter used to spark governmental overthrows. But if you lived in Colonial America in 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution, how would you get your news and know what was happening all around you. That is where the local tavern came in.
More than a place to get a pint or grab a quick meal, the tavern was the center of social life for the community (some will say Church, and that may be true in some places) and it was here that news was traded and gossip spread. Men would gather from all over to talk about the news of the day, even taking turns reading whatever newspapers were available.
It was in taverns that the American Revolution took shape and form. The City Tavern in Philadelphia and the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg are among the most famous. In the back rooms, men would meet and voice their concerns and plan their actions. It was in places like this that the first calls for a general continental congress came to fruition. Face to face, person to person, thoughts took shape and ideas formed.
The taverns were very much the Internet of Colonial life. A social place where you could keep up with neighbors and the world outside. Hear the news and plot your rebellions. The picture above is of the King’s Arms Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. Today it serves as a family restaurant, staying as true as possible to the colonial era. You can’t bookmark it like a Google search, but you can sure make reservations!