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2019 Commemoration

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Kathy Spangler, Executive Director of the Commemoration, speaks to partners in 2018

AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ commemorates the 400th anniversary of key historical events that occurred in Virginia in 1619 that continue to influence America today. Featured events, programs and legacy projects inspire local, national and international engagement through the themes of democracy, diversity and opportunity.


The year 1619 was a pivotal year in the establishment of the first permanent English Colony in North America. It was the year of the first representative legislative assembly in the New World, the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America, the recruitment of English Women in significant numbers, the first official English Thanksgiving in North America, and the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the Virginia colony.


First Representative Legislative Assembly in the New World

The first “General Assembly” composed of men from each of Virginia’s eleven major settlements met for

the first time at Jamestown from July 30-August 4, 1619, planting the seed of democracy in America.[1]

Arrival of the First Recorded Africans to English North America

The first recorded Africans arrived at Old Point Comfort, Virginia in late August 1619 marking the

moment when African history became a powerful and indelible influence on the development of our


Recruitment of English Women in Significant Numbers

In November 1619, 147 English women were recruited to join Jamestown’s male settlers, building

permanence in the Colony.[3]

First Official English Thanksgiving in North America

Upon safe arrival at Berkeley Hundred on December 4, 1619, a group of English settlers held a ceremony

of Thanksgiving which was to be observed annually and perpetually.[4]

Entrepreneurial and Innovative Spirit of the Virginia Colony

A series of new laws passed in 1619 allowed Virginia colonists to experiment with various industries,

helping to set the groundwork for America’s free enterprise system.[5]

Programs to Commemorate

  • Virginia History Trails: The Virginia History Trails is a curated list of stories developed to inform modern day explorers of the 400 year arc of history from 1619 until today. Additionally, each of the trails help to promote locations that are linked to these historical events and reflect the 2019 Commemoration themes of democracy, diversity, and opportunity. Selection of sites and stories were written in collaboration with the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Foundation for Humanities. The stories have been reviewed by the Commemoration’s historical council, key stakeholders, and trail sites for accuracy.[6]
  • Signature Events: A series of events will take place from 2018-2019 to commemorate the history of 1619. These programs include festivals, performances, competitions and more.
  • 2019 Schools: The 2019 Commemoration Schools program is a yearlong challenge for school communities in Virginia to demonstrate their 2019 spirit through participation in contests, projects, and activities that are sponsored by the 2019 Commemoration and partners or are unique to communities, schools, and divisions.[7]
  • Various Grants, Contests, and Press opportunities for organizations across VA.

References[edit | edit source]

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