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The Great Charter and the General Assembly: Founding a Legacy in 1619

AE Curator Apr 17
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The United States is one of the oldest modern democracies in the world, and the blueprint started here in Virginia in 1619 when the Great Charter made representative democracy a possibility. Included in the Great Charter was replacement of a series of strict laws with a self-governing General Assembly.

Now in its 400th year, the General Assembly’s members are honored to be a part of the Western Hemisphere’s oldest continuous law making body.

Some of the representatives reflected on the Assembly’s legacy over the years:

Senator Jennifer McClellan (9th District) reminds us to reflect on the full history of our country and why it’s essential to continue progressing as a nation.

Delegate Cheryl Turpin (85th District) feels honored to serve in the same seats as our forefathers. She’s also proud to be serving among the largest class of women in the General Assembly’s history.

Delegate David Toscano (57th District) highlights how Virginia began a tradition of forward-thinking governance — eventually influencing the rest of the country.

Has representative democracy impacted you or your community in a meaningful way?

If so, please share your story here.

Also, plan your visit to The Great Charter and the General Assembly: Founding a Legacy in 1619 exhibition located at the Virginia State Capitol Visitor Center, which highlights the legacy of our representative government.


Suggested prompts

Tell us about a time when representative government had a positive influence on your life and your community.

Tell us about the opportunities you think lie ahead for our democracy and representative government.

Helpful Tips

Video/Audio story

Use your smartphone to film or record a 2-3 minute video or audio recording answering one of the prompts listed above. Think of your story — outline the key points on paper, and rehearse telling it a couple of times before recording. Make sure you have good lighting and hold the phone about one foot away so your head and shoulders fill the frame.

Text story

Take 30-60 minutes to draft a 200-500 word text story answering one of the prompts listed above. Your story should take a narrative approach detailing your experiences and the emotions you felt along the way.


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