Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, Virginia
If Only Walls Could Talk – what amazing tales our ears would hear inside the lovely plantation home of Berkeley. In 1619, early English settlers came ashore at Berkeley Hundred, naming it in honor of their home seats. On December 4th of that same year, the colonists observed the first official Thanksgiving in America, before the Mayflower Pilgrims had even left England. On Good Friday of 1622, while celebrating with their Indian friends, Opechancanough’s men rose up and attempted to massacre all the whites in Virginia, and they almost suceeded.
Giles Bland was an early owner of Berkeley Hundred, and after he was executed for complicity in Bacon’s Rebellion, the Harrisons assumed ownership. This hallowed ground, situated above the historic James River, is a treasure for all Americans, as it has witnessed and participated in the entire history of our nation.
The original brick mansion, which still stands, was built in 1726, of brick fired right on the plantation. Here was born Benjamin Harrison, son of the first owner and builder of Berkeley, who signed the Declaration of Independence and was a three-time Governor of Virginia. His son, William Henry Harrison, also born at Berkeley, was governor of the Indiana Territory and became the ninth President of the United States. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, became the 23rd President and was the husband of Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison, a founder of the Daughters of the American Revolution and its first President General.
George Washington, and the nine succeeding Presidents of the United States, all visited at Berkeley, and dined in the same dining room that still overlooks the James River today. The British troops of the traitorous Benedict Arnold plundered the plantation during the American Revolution, although no serious harm was done to the mansion. During the Civil War, Union troops of the Army of the Potomac occupied Berkeley Plantation, and President Abraham Lincoln twice traveled via water from Washington to review them. It was here that General George B. McClellan was relieved of command by Lincoln. There are ten acres of terraced boxwood gardens and lawn extending a quarter-mile from the front door to the James River. This wonderful Virginia shrine has been owned and maintained privately.
The image, Berkeley Plantation, Virginia, is subject to copyright by imulford.net. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, administrator of “The Revolution ed” pool.