The NCSL Blog


By Megan McClure

400 years of democracy virginia With the upcoming commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first meeting of a democratically elected body in the Western Hemisphere fast approaching, the Commonwealth of Virginia is continuing to expand the ways you can interact and experience the deeply rooted history of American democracy.

Looking for ways to commemorate this momentous occasion? Or a way to include your constituents or legislature in the celebration? Here are some options available regardless of whether you can make it to Virginia:

  • The one-day Anniversary of the First Representative Legislative Assembly will take place in Historic Jamestown Settlement on July 30. Festivities include ceremonies of commemoration and remembrance, public programs and a concert by the Richmond Symphony—all in the same setting as the first meeting of the country’s first democratically elected body.
  • The proverbial feather in the cap of the American Evolution Commemoration Events is the three-day Forum on the Future of Democracy on July 30-Aug. 1, with speakers including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; philanthropist David Rubenstein; journalist Andrea Mitchell and Dr. Jeffrey Rosen. Through programs and discussions, attendees will imagine and discuss the possibilities for the future of representative democracy around the world. State legislators and legislative staff are a unique group, the direct descendants of the burgesses and first clerks, and provide an invaluable perspective when envisioning the next stages of representative democracy.
  • NCSL’s President, Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Ill.), will attend and possibly serve as a panelist for a session titled Making Peace and Making Policy.
  • American Evolution Stories is a website that provides an opportunity for individuals from across the nation and globe to share their stories. It’s up to you to choose what story to tell. Each story offers a unique perspective on the shared 400-year history of democracy in America.

For details about these and many more programs and events for the 400th commemoration, check out the American Evolution website.

Megan McClure is a senior staff assistant in NCSL's Legislative Staff Services Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.