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The 1619 Assembly: A Jamestown Legacy

 July 13, 2007            

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Themed tours, interpretive programs and military exercises at Jamestown Settlement on Saturday, August 4, will commemorate the 388th anniversary of the first legislative assembly in British America. Jamestown Settlement is a living-history museum of 17th-century Virginia.Explore.JPG

“The 1619 Assembly: A Jamestown Legacy,” 9 a.m.-6 p.m., examines that first assembly of 20 “burgesses,” which convened in the Jamestown church July 30 through August 4, 1619. The assembly marked the beginning of representative government, based on English law and political institutions, in what is now the United States of America and is the antecedent of today’s Virginia General Assembly, the oldest legislative body in the western hemisphere.

Historical vignettes at 1 and 3 p.m. depicting scenes from Virginia’s first legislative assembly highlight a trio of special interpretive programs about government in Jamestown’s early years. All will take place at a new representation of the Anglican church within Jamestown Settlement’s re-created 1610-14 fort. “The Law & The Lord,” held at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., examines the role of the church and the state in the early years of the Jamestown colony. “The Rule of Law,” which begins at 12 noon and 2 and 4 p.m., is a role-playing program exploring the evolution of Jamestown government from the 1607 founding of Jamestown through the convening of the 1619 assembly.

Guided tours of Jamestown Settlement’s exhibition galleries, beginning at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., will highlight exhibits about government in 1600s Virginia, including the short film “The Charters: Virginia’s Government in the 17th Century,” shown throughout the day.

Government-themed guided tours of the outdoor living-history areas – re-created Powhatan Indian village, fort and 1607 ships, and riverfront discovery area – will be offered every 30 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Visitors also can explore the outdoor areas at their own pace and participate in ongoing demonstrations of cooking, navigation and canoe-making.

Military demonstrations will be held throughout the day in the fort. Visitors can join the militia and learn about the role of military in 17th-century Virginia. On the museum mall at 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., visitors can practice the steps leading to the firing of a swivel gun and then see historical interpreters fire the artillery piece.

Visitors also can view the ongoing special exhibition “The World of 1607,” which places early 17th-century Virginia in a global context, and features a 15th-century copy of Magna Carta, the “Great Charter” that is the basis for English common law and the American legal system.

Following the daytime event on August 4, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation continues its 2007 Heritage Lecture Series with a 7 p.m. lecture by Doris Kearns Goodwin, renowned historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, titled “The Lessons of History.” Seating is limited and advance reservations can be made at (757) 253-4415 or rsvp.lecture@jyf.virginia.gov.
Jamestown Settlement is located at the intersection of State Route 31 and the Colonial Parkway.  Operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round, until 6 p.m. June 15 through August 15. Admission is $13.50 for adults, and $6.25 for ages 6 through 12.  Parking is free.

Jamestown Settlement is administered by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia that is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

For more information about Jamestown Settlement, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.