Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Berkeley Plantation, one of the first great estates in America, comprises about 100 acres (0.4 km²) on the banks of the James River on Virginia State Highway 5 in Charles City County, Virginia. Among the many American "firsts" that occurred there are:
- 1st official Thanksgiving -- 4 December, 1619
- 1st bourbon whiskey distilled -- 1621, by George Thorpe, an Episcopal minister
- 1st time Army bugle call Taps played -- July 1862, by bugler Oliver W. Norton; the melody was written at Harrison's Landing on the plantation by then General Daniel Butterfield.
Benjamin Harrison IV built the mansion on the estate in 1726 and married Anne Carter, daughter of Robert "King" Carter of Lancaster County, Virginia, who was the most powerful land baron in the area. His son, Benjamin Harrison V, a signer of the American Declaration of Independence and a governor of Virginia, was born at Berkeley Plantation, as was his son William Henry Harrison, a war hero in the Battle of Tippecanoe, governor of Indiana Territory, and ninth President of the United States.
During the American Civil War, Union troops occupied Berkeley Plantation, and President Abraham Lincoln twice visited there in the summer of 1862 to confer with Gen. George B. McClellan. The Harrisons were not able to regain possession of Berkeley Plantation after that war, and it passed through several owners' hands and fell into disrepair. In 1907 it was bought by John Jamieson, a Scotsman who had served as a drummer boy in the Union army during the Civil War, and it was his son Malcolm Jamieson (who inherited it in 1927), and Malcolm's wife Grace, who restored the manor to the beauty that attracts visitors from all over the country and other parts of the world, too.
The architecture is original, and the house has been filled with antique furniture and furnishings that date from the period when it was built. The grounds, too, have been restored, and cuttings from the boxwood gardens are available as living souvenirs for its visitors.
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