Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Nelson House, circa 1730
— Colonial National Historical Park —
Thomas Nelson, Jr.'s legacy is a lasting example of a life dedicated to independence for his country.
His support towards political freedom from Great Britain began while a member of Virginia’s colonial legislature. In addition to protesting British taxes and leading Yorktown's tea party, patterned after the one in Boston, he was one of Virginia's delegates to the Continental Congress.
In May 1776, he advocated that Virginia officially support independence—a proposal that helped lead to the Declaration of Independence signed by Nelson and 55 others. Nelson continued to support the revolution through political channels and used his own funds to purchase military supplies. On June 12, 1781, he was elected the third governor of Virginia and faced the greatest challenge of his public career—the invasion of the British
As governor and general of his state's militia, Nelson participated in the victory at Yorktown. One day after the British surrendered, Governor Thomas Nelson, Jr. wrote to the Continental Congress: “…the whole loss sustained by the Enemy…must be between 6 & 7000 men. This Blow, I think, must be a decisive one.”
In November 1781, Nelson resigned as governor, poor in health and in debt. He died on January 4, 1789, and was buried next to his father and grandfather at Grace Church, just one block from his home.
On September 25, 1781, Governor Thomas Nelson, Jr. wrote Lord Cornwallis asking that citizens of Yorktown be permitted to return to town to move out their belongings. Three days later, the American and French armies reached Yorktown and the siege began.
Eyeglasses worn by Lucy Nelson, wife of Thomas Nelson, Jr.
One of the few tangible reminders of Thomas Nelson’s sacrifice for independence is his home, which still bears scars from Allied cannon fire during the 1781 siege.
Nelson’s grandfather, Thomas, built the house around 1730. The Nelson family retained ownership of the house until 1908. In 1968, the National Park Service purchased the house and restored it to its 18th century appearance.
In the 18th century there were six outbuilding on the northwest
Thomas Nelson, Jr.'s signature
Courtesy of the Library of Virginia
Erected by National Park Service.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Patriots & Patriotism • War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #04 James Madison series list.
Location. 37° 14.066′ N, 76° 30.428′ W. Marker is in Yorktown, Virginia, in York County. Marker is on Main Street west of Nelson Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Great Valley (within shouting distance of this marker); Charles Cox House (within shouting distance of this marker); Early Colonial Custom House (within shouting distance of this marker); Dudley Digges House, circa 1760 (within shouting distance of this marker); Custom House, circa 1720 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Cole Digges House, circa 1730 (about 300 feet away); Cole Digges House, circa 1925 (about 300 feet away); Somerwell House (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Yorktown.
Also see . . .
1. The Nelson House. Yorktown Battlefield, Colonial National Historical Park Virginia (Submitted on December 5, 2012.)
2. Signer of the Declaration of Independence - Thomas Nelson Jr. 5:39 minute YouTube video. (Submitted on May 12, 2020.)
Credits. This page was last revised on May 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 5, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 505 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 5, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. 3, 4. submitted on October 24, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. 5, 6. submitted on December 27, 2014. 7. submitted on October 24, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.