On this day in 1619, statesmen from the Colony of Virginia gathered in Jamestown as the first deliberative body in what would become the United States of America. Four hundred years later, the same sense of representative democracy that motivated these statesmen continues to drive our Nation forward and ensures that America is a beacon of hope and opportunity for all.
Known as “the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World,” the House of Burgesses, now known as the Virginia General Assembly, was formed as a unicameral body of individuals elected by settlements throughout the colony who served alongside people appointed by the Virginia Company of London. The Burgesses came from a variety of backgrounds—soldiers, clergymen, farmers, and planters. They were united in their cause for a better future for the brave settlers who had crossed the Atlantic for God and Country and for their descendants. From modest beginnings, the first legislative assembly in America would usher in a new era of government that derives its power from the consent of the people.
Four centuries later, the great American Experiment of democratic principles that began in Jamestown continues to thrive. From local city councils and State capitols to the halls of Congress, legislative bodies across our country continue to deliberate and represent the will of the people. Today, we recognize the pioneering and unrelenting spirit of Jamestown, which has shaped the character of our Nation, and we celebrate the abundant blessings of freedom we continue to protect and cherish.
May God bless the United States of America.