On July 30th 2019, members of the Virginia General Assembly, Congress and state legislatures nationwide gathered at the Memorial Church at Jamestown Island and Jamestown Settlement to commemorate the birthplace of American Democracy. President Donald J. Trump addressed the special joint session that was convened by the Virginia General Assembly, the longest governing body in America, and the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution.
400 years ago in the summer of 1619, the first English settlers gathered together at the newly formed Jamestown Settlement.The group of men, 22 Burgesses, met to discuss laws that needed to be created as a way of life for the new colony, thus forming the first representative legislative assembly in the new world.
“Self-government in Virginia did not just give us a state we love. In a very true sense, it gave us the country we love: the United States of America,” said Trump while he was discussing the first representative legislative assembly. After discussing the hardships that America has gone through over the years from its beginnings during the “starving time” to the freedom of slavery during the civil war, he said, “Above all, we must be proud of our heritage, united in our purpose, and filled with confidence in our shared, great, great, great American destiny.”
The once-in-a-lifetime event welcomed many additional speakers and guests including Governor Ralph Northam, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Historian Jon Meacham.
It was available for the public to view live online at the General Assembly website.
The event began in the small, Memorial Church on Jamestown Island where Northam gave remarks. Then, the group from that church and more gathered at Jamestown Settlement’s re-created church where Meacham gave remarks.
“As Abraham Lincoln reminds us, we cannot escape history; and I’d argue that we should not want to or try to. For by our heritage and our hope, we as Americans are charged with a sacred duty: to fulfill the injunction that to whom much is given, much is expected,” said Meacham. “And as Americans, we have been given much; and those gifts in many ways are rooted here at Jamestown. Gifts of liberty and of opportunity of self-government and of what Lincoln was to call, ‘a fair chance to enable us to lead lives of prosperity and of peace;’ which is why this is a good moment and a good place to reflect on who we’ve been, who we are and where we might go in the next 400 years.”
After Meacham’s remarks, they reconvened into the mall tent of Jamestown Settlement for the many guests and the large crowd of media that came to report on the day. The tent had over 700 seats, but overflowed with attendees all eager to watch the speeches by Speaker of the House of Virginia Delegates, Kirk Cox; Clerk of the House of Representatives, Paul Nardo; Illinois State Senator, Toi Hutchinson; President Trump and more.
American Evolution was proud to honor the 400-year anniversary of the First Representative Legislative Assembly, and were proud that it sparked the interest in so many others, in Virginia and outside of Virginia. People of all backgrounds were able to join together in honoring the start of American democracy in quite a memorable way.