I just got through watching the A&E movie “The Crossing,” featuring Jeff Daniels as George Washington. Of course, Mr. Daniels gave his usual delivery, without any discernable accent.
Here’s the thing. George Washington was from Virginia. For that matter, so were Thomas Jefferson and various others of our founding fathers. Yet, in the dozens of portrayals of these gentlemen on television and in film, I have never once seen them portrayed as having a southern accent.
Now bear with me here. The Jamestown colony was founded in Virginia in 1609. It seems to me that by the time the Revolution rolled around 167 years later, there would have been ample time for the southern colonies to have developed the accent and dialect for which they are now known.
So what’s the scoop? Are we being victimized by some dark Yankee conspiracy to de-southernize George, Tom and the boys?
Are there any contemporary accounts which might reveal whether, at the time of the Revolution, the southern accent was already prevalent? Anyone?