Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Notable Anniversary

Only about two hours remain in the day, so it would be unfortunate to let them pass without mentioning today's anniversary.

Three hundred ninety years ago today, the first legislative body ever to meet in America convened.

As noted on the Jamestown 1607 web site:

By 1618, martial law was abolished and a legislative assembly was created. In April 1619, Governor George Yeardley arrived from London and recommended that two burgesses from each settlement be elected to represent the citizens. The first meeting of the 22-member assembly met on July 30 - Aug. 3, 1619 at a church in Jamestown.

Most of the laws passed during that first session involved tobacco and taxes and measures against drunkenness, idleness and gambling. They even approved legislation regulating relations with the Powhatans and mandatory church attendance.

On the last day of assembly, they approved the "greate Charter of 1618" that became the first Constitution of Virginia.

What is now the Virginia General Assembly is a direct descendant of the original House of Burgesses.

Let's raise a tankard in a toast to representative democracy!

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