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Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures | An NCSL Podcast

A Special Podcast Series of NCSL’s “Our American States”

“Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures” is a special six-part series that covers the history, characters and stories of state legislatures in America, from the beginnings in Jamestown, to the present day and into the future. Tune in to hear from legislative and historical experts who will guide listeners through the historical events that helped shape, and in some cases almost derailed, the legislatures we know today.



Building Democracy Series Timeline

  • Virginia 1619

    They gathered in a sweltering little church in the summer of 1619 in Jamestown, Va. Some 30 men were about to make history and sow the seeds of democracy in North America.

  • Late 1700s
    to Early 1800s

    Colonial assemblies nurture the political careers of the founding fathers and are transformed into the first state legislatures.

  • 1820-1860

    As the frontier marches west, representative democracy follows. Guns are drawn on chamber floors, a statehouse is under siege and governance takes shape beyond the Mississippi.

  • 1870-1919

    The fight for women’s suffrage at the federal level, the passage and year-long ratification process of the 19th amendment, is well known. But did you know that states and territories across the American West lead the way in giving women the right to vote and even serve in states legislatures almost 50 years before the 19th amendment was enacted?

  • 1950-2000

    Faced with a rapidly developing world around them, legislatures are forced to consider whether they must develop, too.

  • 2020 and

    How will our legislatures adapt to the social, political and technological advancements of the 2020s and beyond?