The House of Burgesses' First Assembly Day, July 28 and July 30
July 23, 2012
Interactive Programs at Historic Jamestowne Depict Formation of First Governing Body in English-speaking America
The events that occurred during the historic first meeting of the House of Burgesses, 393 years ago, will be re-enacted during two days of interactive programs, for "First Assembly Day." The programs take place on Saturday, July 28 and Monday, July 30.
On Saturday, July 28, guests are invited to join an interactive presentation at the Jamestown Memorial Church which was erected on the site of the original church where the 1619 Burgesses meeting took place. The program will take place at 1130 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. in the church. Led by living history interpreters, guests take roles and participate in several short "scenes," representative of the events that occurred during the historic first meeting of the burgesses.
About the First Assembly
On Monday, programs will explore the development of government in Virginia and the significance of the first meeting of elected officials in the colony. At 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. in the theatre at the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center, visitors will meet three people from Jamestown’s past who will share their stories of Virginia’s government during the colony’s earliest years. During the 45-minute living history programs in the visitor center, John Pory, speaker of the legislative assembly, will join with burgess John Rolfe and a female resident of the colony to interact with "new arrivals."
Also on Monday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center, staff from the Virginia House of Delegates will be distributing free children's educational materials on Virginia government.
The first meeting of this authorized assembly was convened on July 30, 1619. Over a six-day period, the burgesses petitioned for changes in the settlement of land tenure, approved the "Greate Charter" of 1618, which had allowed for the assembly's creation, and adopted measures against drunkenness, idleness and gambling. Other legislation discussed included personal conduct of the settlers, land ownership, crop selection and relations with the Powhatan Indians.
The meeting presented the humble beginnings of individual initiation of legislation in English-speaking America. At its conclusion on August 4, the assembly's last vote was for the approval of its first tax law, requiring every man and servant in the colony to pay the officers of the assembly "one pound of the best Tobacco" for their services during the hot, midsummer season.
Historic Jamestowne is located at 1368 Colonial Parkway on Jamestown Island, seven miles west of Williamsburg. It can be reached via the Colonial Parkway or VA State Route 31.
This program is free with paid admission to Historic Jamestowne. The admission fee of $10 per adult includes both Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield. Children under age 16 are admitted free. America the Beautiful National Parks passes are accepted and Preservation Virginia members also are admitted free. Please call (757) 229-4997 or visit www.historicjamestowne.org for more information.
Historic Jamestowne is jointly administered by the National Park Service and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (on behalf of Preservation Virginia) and preserves the original site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World.