Chatting With Two Guys Dressed As Colonial Historical Figures

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The resemblance is uncanny. Photo: Dan Amira

As I wrote earlier, nearly everyone at the Values Voter Summit is not dressed like a colonial person. There are two exceptions. Their names are James Manship (playing George Washington) and Reverend William Temple (playing Button Gwinnett), and they came in full Revolutionary regalia. They're two very friendly, normal-seeming guys, or at least as normal-seeming as people dressed like that are capable of being. "You're looking at me like I'm crazy," Manship said to me. "And I am crazy. I'm half crazy! I'm crazy for my country and I'm crazy for my Christ and I'm crazy like a fox!"

"So how does someone start dressing like this?" I asked them. Actually, both did reenactments as a hobby/side-gig years before the tea party movement even began — Manship would do reenactments as George Washington as a way to spread his love of the Constitution. Temple, a British native, actually started out doing reenactments as a British soldier, until a tea party rally convinced him to switch teams.

They explained that they dress up at political events "because the tea party is all about reminding everyone of the first Revolution, and so we dress as Revolutionaries." It's not easy though. It takes dedication. The simple act of putting on all their vintage clothing and war gear takes about ten minutes, Manship said. "You realize after you do some reenacting," Temple told me, "that when they got dressed like this, they didn't get undressed for a while."

Interestingly enough, Temple and Manship both support Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain in the primary race. (Ron Paul? They can't stomach his isolationist foreign policy. Rick Perry? Professional politician.) Temple, even as invested in colonial history as he is, said he wasn't bothered by Bachmann's Lexington and Concord gaffe. "The lord Jesus said whoever does not err in his speech is a perfect person," the Reverend told me, "and I haven't met any yet."