In the 400+ years that America has existed, both as a colony of the British Empire and as a sovereign country, its history has been filled with tragedy and moments of triumph. Perhaps no place in the nation has seen more drama than the American South. Embroiled in the Revolutionary War in the late 1700’s, the latter stages of the war of 1812, and being centre stage for the American Civil War of the 1860’s, the South’s past is filled with reminders of conflict.
However, outstanding reminders of its beauty and the spirit and intelligence of its people can also be found throughout this intriguing land, making a trip based around historical exploration a fruitful endeavour. The following three destinations are just a few of the places where a visit will yield immediate dividends for the history buff.
1) Williamsburg, Virginia
Home to the first successful British settlement in North America, Williamsburg became the capital of one of the wealthiest colonies in what is now the United States of America. Williamsburg served in this manner until 1780, when the capital was moved due to its lack of a navigable river, as travel by water was vitally important in those days.
Sites that one should see here include the Governor’s Palace, where the redcoats and their loyalists ran the colony, the Raleigh Tavern, where revolutionaries discussed matters of independence away from the prying ears of their colonial overlords, and Revolutionary City, a live reenactment of the events that led to America declaring its independence and the armed struggle that resulted from that moment in history.
2) Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
For centuries, humans has attempted in vain to join the birds that fluttered effortlessly above them in flight. At the dawn of the 20th century, two brothers from Ohio launched a test flight of their heavier than air craft at a place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina called Kitty Hawk. Their bird stayed airborne for just 59 seconds, traveling just 852 feet, but it was enough to shatter a long held conception that humans could (and should) never fly.
Today, the Wright Brothers National Memorial hosts a museum that features full life-size replicas of the original craft that Wright flew, which opened up an entirely new world for humanity.
3) Savannah, Georgia
The American Civil War left many scars across the South, destroying countless priceless architectural gems, not to mention the livelihoods of many innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. One city that stands out from the rest however is Savannah, Georgia. Facing the inevitable capture of his city by Union forces, the mayor agreed to not resist their advance in exchange for not having his dear city burnt to the ground, a fate that had befallen many other settlements across the Confederacy.
This fateful decision preserved a gem of American Southern architecture, with many houses, public squares, and massive shady oak trees being found throughout this charming city.