Richmond and the American Dream: Revolution and Reality

Time Period
1764 to 1824
1825 to 1860
1861 to 1876
1877 to 1924
1925 to Today
Media Type
Black History
Civil Rights
Politics & Government
Rev. Benjamin P. Campbell

On February 4 at noon, the Rev. Benjamin P. Campbell delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “Richmond and the American Dream: Revolution and Reality.”

The dream that is particularly American is not the European dream for America, lived out in the first two centuries of European settlement, but rather, the dream that emerges at the time of the American Revolution. The full articulation of that dream coincides with the birth of Richmond as the capital city of Virginia. Richmond became capital of commonwealth in the midst of the Revolution. In May 1780, the legislature met in Richmond for the first time. In 1782, the city was incorporated within Henrico County. Over the next twenty-five years, the population of the capital city grew tenfold, from 600 persons to 6,000. Thus, in many ways, Richmond is a child-city of the Revolution. The subsequent 235 years of Richmond’s history represent a textbook in the dramatic, unresolved issues, which the American Revolution presented. This lecture will look at the American Dream of Revolution, its dark underside, its achievements, and at its unparalleled potential still to be realized in Richmond’s most decisive decade.

The Rev. Benjamin P. Campbell studied political science and political economy at Williams College in Massachusetts, and studied theology as a Rhodes Scholar at the Queen’s College in Oxford. He received a Master’s in Divinity and an honorary Doctorate in Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. He was ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church in 1966. In 1987, he became Pastoral Director of Richmond Hill, an ecumenical Christian community and retreat center on Church Hill in Richmond. He is the author of Richmond's Unhealed History.

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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