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Jamestown Settlement Commemorates 400th Anniversary of 1619 Legislative Assembly with 'Democracy Weekend' July 27 & 28

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., July 23, 2019 Jamestown Settlement’s “Origins of American Democracy” theme month culminates on July 27 and 28 with “Democracy Weekend,” featuring interpretive programs and military exercises honoring the first General Assembly, the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, as 20 “burgesses” convened at Jamestown in 1619. Programs will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days.

Jamestown Settlement, an official partner of the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, is a year-round stage for special exhibitions, events and programs honoring the 400th anniversary of key historical events in Virginia in 1619. This living-history museum of 17th-century Virginia is located adjacent to Historic Jamestowne.

Public Invited to See Original ‘Proceedings of the First General Assembly’
on Exhibit from The National Archives of the U.K.

Page one of “Proceedings of the First General Assembly, July 30, 1619,” showing names of the Burgesses. On loan from The National Archives, UK, CO 1/1.

1619 Gallery Exhibits

A special commemorative exhibit features “The Proceedings of the First General Assembly,” the original minutes of the first legislative assembly that convened July 30, 1619 — on loan for the first time in America in 400 years from The National Archives of the U.K.  These rare and fragile pages of these original minutes, penned by Speaker John Pory, will be available for public viewing at Jamestown Settlement through September 30.

In expansive permanent gallery exhibits, visitors can immerse themselves in the stories of people and events in 17th-century Jamestown. Refreshed exhibits feature new research on the arrival of the first recorded west central Africans in 1619 and the growth in slavery through 1699, as well as the impact of the Virginia Company of London’s effort to recruit English women to stabilize the colony. On July 27 and 28, education programs at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in gallery exhibits will allow visitors to put their leadership skills to the test on circumstances from supplying the Virginia colony to negotiating peace between Powhatan Indian and English colonists.

Interactive Living-History Experiences

Visitors can take an active role in living history alongside costumed interpreters with a range of historical presentations and enhanced programming in outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan Indian village, 1607 ships and 1610-14 fort. Join in a drill to defend the colony at the re-created James Fort, discuss the “Laws Divine Moral and Martial” in the governor’s house, learn about the rule of law from inside the church and head to the re-created village to explore Powhatan Indian politics at the werowance’s yehakin.

Demonstrations on July 27 and 28 include:

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Visit the Werowance’s Yehakin to explore Powhatan politics and examine the complex relationships between English colonists, the Powhatan Indians and other Virginia Indian tribes.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: In 1609, the Virginia Company obtained a new charter authorizing the appointment of a governor with “full and absolute power and authority.” Explore the Governor’s House to see how someone of his station lived and learn about the “Laws Divine Moral and Martial” that would rule the colony for much of its early years.

10 a.m. and 3 p.m.: Calling all musketeers, pikemen and targeteers! Grab a musket, join in a 17th-century military drill and march your way for firsthand training in Defending the Colony!

11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.: Learn about the Rule of Law from inside the re-created Anglican church, exploring the various forms of governmental rule that evolved at Jamestown and lead to the formation of the first representative legislative assembly in 1619.

12 p.m. and 2 p.m.: Learn about Powhatan Government and the methods used by paramount chief of the Powhatan Indians, Wahunsonacock, as he consolidated more than 30 tribes into a loose chiefdom under his rule and expanded his power far beyond that of his predecessors.

About Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement, administered by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, features world-class exhibitions, immersive galleries and films, and interactive living-history experiences in re-creations of a Powhatan Indian village, three 1607 ships and a 1610-14 fort. The museum connects visitors with the lives of the Powhatan, English and west central African cultures that converged at 17th-century Jamestown.

Event is included with museum admission: $17.50 for adults, $8.25 for ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. A value-priced combination ticket is available with the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive free admission with proof of residency. Parking is free.

Jamestown Settlement, located on Route 31 just south of Williamsburg, is open year-round 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, until 6 p.m. June 15-August 15. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or visit https://jyfmuseums.org/democracyweekend/