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September 4, 2015 Geography, History, Sailing

Sailing to British History

A family from York, England, enjoyed sailing on the York River off Yorktown while recalling the derivation of our county and river as a function of British history. Linda and Allastair Jackson live in York and were visiting here with their son Will.

“The Celtics were first in England, followed by the Romans in 53 AD and later the Anglo-Saxon and the Vikings,” Linda explained. “There’s a pub in York where they did an archeological dig and found the remnants of a Roman bath. The Medieval Period was followed by the Normans and finally the Georgians in the 1700s.” She mentioned that York Minster Cathedral was built in 1260 when the Anglican Church was very powerful.

I pointed out that the Yorktown Monument took Congress 100 years to build, but somehow that didn’t seem very long. The defeat of the British at Yorktown was “a minor skirmish in the greater French wars,” according to another Brit I took sailing last year. “Well, yes,” Allastair said. “The English Empire went on successfully for another 200 years, didn’t it.”

Linda majored in geography in college and can still draw the states on an American map and all the countries of Africa. “We had to overlay the rail lines on the map along with the climate contours and mountain ranges.”

Yorktown got on the map in the 1620s as the second-busiest port in America, after Philadelphia. The reason was the dubious achievement of importing slaves and exporting tobacco. Linda recalled that Castle Howard was built on the proceeds of the slave trade, as were other castles. England abolished slavery long before the Revolutionary War and considered Americans hypocrites for espousing liberty and slavery at the same time.

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