In this episode I begin making the case that perhaps Governor Berkeley’s greatest contribution to 17th Century Virginia and beyond was his encouraging Cavaliers to immigrate into the colony.
Beginning in the 1640s many of those Cavalier families took up Berkeley’s offer, and indeed moved many sons into the Old Dominion. The first family on our list, the Bollings, sent teen-aged Robert to the New World in 1660. He quickly worked his way into existing society, especially when he married Pocahontas’ granddaughter, Jane Rolfe in 1674.
Robert’s arrival was a case of old meets new in that the Rolfe line was one of the earliest prominent Virginia families, even if Thomas Rolfe, John and Pocahontas’ son, didn’t return to Virginia until the 1640s himself. The Rolfe’s still owned land, and it was in Thomas’ name. He received more lands over the next couple of decades, which made marrying his daughter Jane a highly prized choice.
Robert and Jane’s marriage extended genealogical links from John Rolfe and Pocahontas into the 20th Century. Their children and grandchildren were highly influential planters, merchants, and statesmen who helped shape Virginia into a powerhouse up to the American War for Independence and beyond. Because of that, as well as their connection all the way back to 17th Century Virginia’s most famous marriage, the Bolling family is my first episode in the First Family of Virginia Series.
I used to tell my students that history is a giant web. Cause effects change, and that change, sometimes unseen, is felt for generations.
Gloucestershire’s Berkeley Castle is a location at the heart of change. Even though the manorial seat has been in the same family for 27 generations, many of the people directly associated with the Castle moved to Virginia bringing profound influence with them to the New World.
The name Berkeley stands tall in 17th Century Virginia’s annals. The 1619 landing at what would become known as Berkeley Hundred put the Castle’s name on Virginia’s map forever. Decades later a Berkeley relative became Virginia’s most influential 17th Century colonial governor. But it wasn’t just Berkeley’s that came to Virginia from Gloucestershire. Skilled tradesmen, indentured servants, and merchants also moved from the old world, hoping to better there lives.
Berkeley Hundred soon suffered a horrific blow in 1622, but survivors endured and built a thriving colony. That colony became an early American leader, producing countless statesmen, scientific pioneers, westward explorers, military heroes, and seven United States Presidents. Two of those Presidents, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison have immediate connections to Berkeley Plantation, and they were preceded by Benjamin Harrison V, a Declaration of Independence signer.
The various causes spurring Berkeley Hundred’s first settlers to leave Gloucestershire undoubtedly left a lasting impact upon Virginia’s and the United State’s history. For that we should be thankful, just as those first settlers were, for new opportunities. Today we can build upon those opportunities, while we trace our history back to places like Berkeley Castle and beyond.
Charles Berkeley, 27th Generation owner of Berkeley Castle, visited Berkeley Plantation in order to share in highlighting Berkeley Castle’s profound influence upon Virginia. His kind generosity made this interview possible, for which I’m thankful beyond measure.
Crowd enjoying Berkeley’s fabulous grounds
Jamestown Settlement’s Godspeed sailed up the James to pay a visit
Bill Bevins addressing 2019’s historic First Thanksgiving Festival crowd.
Berkeley Castle’s Charles Berkeley offers his reflections on his home and its influence upon Berkeley Plantation as well as Virginia’s history.
Reenactors portraying English North America’s First Thanksgiving.
The (Adam) Thoroughgood House has a lot of mystery surrounding it. At one time it was believed to be the oldest brick house in America, perhaps built by Adam Thoroughgood himself. Later work on the house put the house’s construction to 1719, almost 80 years after Thoroughgood died in 1640.
Other mysteries surround the famous Virginia Beach dwelling, such as whether or not the house is haunted. Many say no. Those who disagree on the otherhand tell rather compelling stories about eerie encounters.
Famed Virginia Ghost Storyteller paid the Thoroughgood House a visit in order to record some of those frightening stories for his book The Ghosts of Tidewater.
While Berkeley worked in England, Virginia continued to evolve. The Brent family moved southward out of Maryland, bringing the first major Catholic settlers into the colony, Indian unrest threatened peace along the frontiers, and proprietary schemes further threatened Virginia’s economy. But the Navigation Acts remained the biggest threat to Virginia’s economy.
Governor Berkeley’s 1662 trip to England is arguably the most pivotal event affecting his time in Virginia. He had been reinstalled as the colonial governor just before Charles Stuart restored the Stuart monarchy.
Berkeley wanted to breathe life into Virginia’s mediocre economy through a series of essentially free-trade oriented plans, but his restored king had other ideas. The Navigation Act of 1662 wasn’t a new idea, in fact most of the Act was borrowed from previous editions. All of those previous versions, however, were easily neglected for various reasons, but the 1662 Act had vigorous royal backing.
Berkeley and his colonial leaders understood how detrimental the Navigation Act could be to their young economy, but they couldn’t voice their disapproval quickly enough. So, when the Council for Foreign Plantations was formed as a body to collect colonial viewpoints, it made sense to the General Assembly to send someone to champion Virginia’s cause. Who better to fight for that cause than their very own royal insider, Sir William Berkeley.
Would he be successful? If so, Virginia would grow in leaps and bounds. If not, Virginia could begin going down a devastating path.
Nathaniel Bacon’s 1676 burning of Jamestown was a watershed moment. It symbolized the end of an era, or better stated, the end of eras. The era of Jamestown’s position as colonial capitol, Berkeley’s governorship, Indian peace, and free blacks ended.
The conflict began when Robert Hen, Thomas Mathews’ overseer, was murdered by the Doeg Indians. Matthews, a Northern Neck merchant, witnessed much of the conflagration from start to finish, and penned an account years after the chief players had passed. His account is one of the major primary sources that shed light on this turbulent period.
Each year, on or as close to September 19th as possible, Historic Jamestown reenacts Mathews’ account. Willie Balderson, a spectacular actor with a wide repertoire spanning more than three centuries, transforms into Thomas Matthews, and with the aid of others walks his listeners through a cresset lined path.
Along the path the audience hears from a feisty New Town resident, a runaway slave, and heartbroken Mrs. Drummond as well as musket reports from the battle for Jamestown. It is a captivating performance that brings Bacon’s Rebellion to life before one’s eyes and leaves a deep impression not to be forgotten.
Mr. Mathews was so kind as to sit down and tell me what he had witnessed in this special interview. I trust you’ll be as impressed as I was.
Thomas Mathews discusses 1675’s “Three Ominous Presages”
Sunset on Jamestown Island
New Town resident and chicken recount their experience.
Runaway Swann’s Plantation slave recounts promises and circumstances affecting Virginia’s late 17th Century African population.
Thomas Mathews telling of Governor Berkeley’s standoff with Nathaniel Bacon in front of the Statehouse
The Burning of Jamestown reenactors lining the road near the statehouse
Mrs. Drummond poingantly tells the crowd about her husband’s hanging.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of reenactors staging the Burning of Jamestown.
Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Summer” selections from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, RV 315 movements I – Allegro non molto and III – Presto performed by Sarah Chang and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra also available on iTunes.
Old Point Comfort, August 25, 1619. 400 years later location and a date that doesn’t initially conjure feelings of comfort. But it is the place where many gathered together in order to commemorate one of Virginia’s many major events for it was at Old Point Comfort that Englishmen, guilty of privateering, arrived with the infamously ambiguous “Twenty and Odd Negroes.”
I won’t retell the story, as I have covered these historical events in two episodes, which will be linked below. Instead, let me highlight some of the 400th Commemoration ceremony that took place on August 24th, 2019.
Entrance to Fort Monroe
The “Twenty and Odd” would have arrived at Fort Monroe’s great-grandfather, Fort Algernourne (aka Algernon), which was originally built in 1609.
Welcome sign on monitors outside of Fort Monroe’s grounds.
At one time slave traders plied the Chesapeake Bay. Today, the waterway known as Hampton Roads remains one of the world’s busiest ports of call as ships like these sail past Fort Monroe.
The Gazebo just outside of Fort Monroe.
Fort Monroe was commissioned in 1819 as a result of the War of 1812. It never saw battle, though it became a symbol of hope and salvation for nearby slaves 4 decades later.
Old Point Comfort Lighthouse overlooking tents at the 400th Commemoration Ceremony.
Museum, Educator, and Vendor tents readying themselves for the weekend’s events.
The Southern/Bay facing entrance into Fort Monroe with “Quareters Number 1” where President Lincoln planned an attack on nearby Norfolk in the background.
The American Flag overlooking Fort Monroe and Hampton Roads
Commemoration 2019 workers going over the day’s activities just after sunrise August 24, 2019
Fort Monroe was abuzz hours before the official ceremony began. Local police officers and volunteers steered traffic through the streets, while tour guides and National Park Service personnel polished last minute details in advance of the day’s soon-to-be-arriving spectators.
I.C. Norcom High School choir serenaded arriving attendees
Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck welcomed guests to the 400th Commemoration
Some of the Commemoration’s distinguished guests on stage
Commemoration guests settling into place as Mayor Tuck opened the day’s festivities
Former Representative Jim Moran
Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Kirkland Cox offering his opening remarks.
Onlookers under the tent at the 400th Commemoration Ceremony.
The US Air Force Color Guard
Hampton’s Ms. Chelsea Griffin sings the National Anthem.
Dr. Joseph Green, Pastor and Cofounder of the Antioch Assembly offering his thoughts on such a profound day.
The program unfolded with a series of short speeches by many of Virginia’s political leaders as well as officials from the rest of the country. The highlight of the day, however, had to be 11 year old Brycen Dildy’s speech that brought the crowd to its feet.
Former Governor and Senator Tim Kaine on stage
Former Governor Mark Warner
California Representative Karen Bass
Distinguished guests on stage for the 400th Commemoration Ceremony
Representative Bobby Scott
The Tent Crowd at the 400th Commemoration Ceremony
The Grounds Crowd at the 400th Commemoration Ceremony
Representative Elaine Luria
Governor Ralph Northam offers the keynote address.
L-R, Elaine Luria, Bobby Scott, Mark Warner, and Ralph Northam.
Jacquelyn E. Stone delivering poet Nikki Giovanni’s poem to the audience.
National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith
Fort Monroe NPS Superintendent Terry Brown being honored for his service
Larkspur Middle School’s Brycen Dildy brought the house to their feet.
Virginia State Representative and former Hampton Mayor Mamie Locke
CNN’s “Van” Jones
Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax delivered the final speech of the day.
Reverend Walter Barrett, Jr. delivering the benediction.
I.C. Norcom HS Choir performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to close out the ceremony
To finish the day, I took a small side adventure of my own. First I visited nearby William Tucker Cemetery. The Cemetery is name for William Tucker, one of the first African’s to be born in Virginia, and it is the final resting place for many Tucker generations.
Sign marking the entrance to the William Tucker Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia
William Tucker Cemetery
William Tucker Cemetery
I ended the day on a poignantly solemn note in visiting one of Virginia’s great freedom symbols – Emancipation Oak at Hampton University. This beautiful, captivating tree witnessed Hampton’s Africans hearing the first reading of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Officially no slaves were yet freed, because the famous Proclamation applied to slaves in the Confederate States, though the words certainly encouraged more enslaved blacks to make the almost 3 mile walk to nearby Fort Monroe, where they received asylum by Major General Benjamin Butler. Thus Virginia’s African story returned to her starting point as Africans once again became “Contraband of War” as they realistically were in 1619. This time, however, Old Point Comfort lived up to her name, and comfort in the midst of war came for those escaping slavery’s chains.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of a recreated slave cabin at the 400th Commemoration of Virginia’s First Africans.
In 1652 it seemed like the Royalist cause was lost. Cromwell had firmly established the Protectorate, and the Stuarts just couldn’t organize a serious threat to Cromwell’s authority.
Berkeley and others like him hoped for Charles Stuart’s return, but news was slow, and generally contained awful stories. Other than a potential conspiracy in which funds were to be funneled to the royalist cause abroad, Virginians seemed to move on in their own independent way.
Then 1659-1660 brought conflicting news reports. Richard Cromwell succeeded his father and then resigned not too long thereafter. Samuel Matthews Jr. died. Who was in charge in Virginia, let alone England?
Two restorations brought familiar faces back onto the scene – William Berkeley and then Charles Stuart, who became King Charles II. Their restorations didn’t return both lands back to a status quo antebellum, for that matter, no one knew what their returns meant. When Berkeley came back to power, he wasn’t even sure if he could or should rule. But upon Charles’ restoration that question answered itself. Berkeley was Charles’ man.
Still, the situation was fraught with concern. Berkeley had ideas that he had already put into motion before Charles’ restoration occurred. After the king reclaimed his throne, he began governing the Old Dominion in a manner that threatened all Berkeley and his government’s plans.
What else was Berkeley to do? He chose to go back to England.
Virginia history is filled with many important names, dates, and events. One of those great names who influenced much of 17th Century Virginia is Sir William Berkeley. John Smith is more famous and certainly influenced Jamestown’s early survival, but Berkeley took the struggling colony and moved it into a position that the later First Families of Virginia inherited and made into a powerhouse.
Berkeley is a bridge. But he’s no ordinary bridge. For the time in question, he was an ornate spectacle that shined in a bleak world. His work ensured that the rule of law would expand and remain. He instigated building, better crops, better production, and expanded liberty through local courts and free trade. His work attracted a higher class that might otherwise have never come to the colony, but that class soon plagued him. They ultimately brought him down in the end.
Berkeley’s life spans many worlds, pre-Commonwealth England, the English Civil War, The Interregnum, the Restoration, the Powhatan Wars, Matthews-Claiborne Virginia, Dutch Wars, and Bacon’s Rebellion. He played a part in it all, and above all else, he left his mark on Virginia’s landscape.
No one speaks of this pivotal figure more completely than Dr. Warren Billings, my guest for this episode. Tune in and learn more about this amazing 17th Century figure’s influence on Virginia’s History.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of Dr. Warren Billings.
Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “La Rejoussiance” from George Frideric Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks HWV 351 performed by Sir Charles Mackerras and the London Symphony Orchestra, also available on iTunes.
It was my great pleasure to be invited to the Virginia General Assembly’s 400th Commemorative Session.
The Assembly is the Western Hemisphere’s first and oldest representative government. The impact that that first meeting had on Virginia, America, and the rest of the world is immense. To mark the occasion 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution put together a week long program in which Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Settlement, and the College of William and Mary took part.
Historians, businessmen, and world-leaders were invited to participate in the American Evolution Forum on the Future of Representative Democracy, which has produced fascinating discussions covering the wide variety of issues that have affected and still affect representative government today.
Some of the key speakers featured in the Forum were –
Kathy Spangler, Executive Director, 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution
Virginia Representative Kirk Cox, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia State Senator Tommy Norment
U.S. Senator Mark Warner
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine
U.S. Representative Elaine Goodman Luria (VA-2), U.S. Navy veteran
U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (VA-3)
U.S. Representative Rob Wittman (VA-1)
Katherine Anandi Rowe, President, William & Mary (first female president)
Carly Fiorina, American businesswoman and political figure
Robert Gates, former U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2006-2001, scholar, and intelligence analyst
David Rubenstein, Financier and philanthropist, co-founder of The Carlyle Group
Annette Gordon-Reed, American historian and law professor
Eric Cantor, Politician, lawyer, banker
Jeffrey Rosen, American academic and commentator on legal affairs
Andrea Mitchell, television journalist and commentator
Andrew Card Jr., former White House Chief of Staff from 2001-2006
Karl Rove, Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff during the George W. Bush administration
Melody Barnes, lawyer and political advisor; former chief counsel to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and of Center for American Progress
Robin Christian Howard Niblett CMG, British specialist in international relations
Larry Joseph Sabato is an American political scientist and political analyst, and Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia
Marc Short, Chief of Staff to Vice President Mike Pence
Sir David Natzler KCB, former Clerk of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom
I attended only the 400th Commemorative Assembly activities, which held 3 sessions.
The First Meeting took place at Historic Jamestown’s Memorial Church
Elizabeth Kostelny, CEO of Preservation Virginia, welcomed those attending the historic meeting and was followed by Virginia Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment.
The highlight from this meeting has to have been remarks delivered by Sir David Natzler KCB, retiring Clerk of the British House of Commons of the United Kingdom. His words linked Virginia’s representative government to other historical assemblies as far back as Athens as well as his native United Kingdom.
“These events were important not only in Virginia, not only in America, but throughout the world. The idea took root that people wanted to be governed by laws of their own making.”
Sir Natzler concluded by congratulating British Parliament’s oldest child, the Virginia General Assembly on her 400th Anniversary.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam followed Sir Natzler’s comments and spoke of the historic context and importance of Virginia’s General Assembly. He also mentioned who was not part of that First Assembly, women and newly arriving Africans. (The Jamestown Brides did not arrive until later 1620-1621 and the “20 and Odd” did not arrive until August, 1619. But followers of this podcast understand that there were a few women and Africans in Virginia pre-1619).
Following Governor Northam’s comments the first meeting adjourned. Lineage societies then placed wreaths outside of the Memorial Church’s tower before those on the Island moved to Jamestown Settlement.
Reconstructed wooden frame inside the Jamestown Memorial Church
Representative government was born near this spot in July 1619
The Jamestown Memorial Church
Historic Jamestown is an active archaeological site. Evidence can be seen of that fact all over the island, such as this exposed brick at the Memorial Church
Jamestown was the first permanent English settlment in North America.
The Memorial Church on Jamestown Island
Entrance to Historic Jamestown that take visitors over the Pitch and Tar Swamp
The many wreaths laid by lineage societies
The famous Pocahontas statue at Jamestown Island with a wreath placed by the Jamestown Society
The Second Meeting took place at Jamestown Settlement’s re-created church
A processional led the Assembly into Jamestown Settlement’s church located within the re-created James Fort.
Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Kirkland Cox welcomed guests, and was followed by Assistant Fort Supervisor of the Jamestown Settlement Brian Beckley, who played Governor George Yeardley, the man who opened that fateful Assembly 400 years ago.
Mark Greenough, Tour Guide Supervisor and Historian at the Virginia State Capitol, succeeded Mr. Beckley by delivering an interpretation while dressed to play Speaker John Pory.
Speaker Cox followed Mr. Greenough’s period interpretation before introducing the esteemed Presidential Historian Jon Meacham. Mr. Meacham’s speech highlighted some of Virginia’s historic contributions. One such highlight, the First Thanksgiving, brought loud applause. (In fact, Graham Woodlief sat in the row just ahead of me. He was gratified by the attention, as he mentioned to me afterward).
Meacham’s sentiments included memorable statements such as, “Jamestown is a mirror of who we were and who we are.”
Further, “Dreamers and doers came here and they built, and we stand in the light of their achievement.”
Finally, “In our finest hours, America has been about life, it’s been about liberty, it’s been about the pursuit of happiness not just for some, but for all. And in that history, history rooted here in this place, lies our hope.”
Mr. Meacham said many other things that delved into today’s current political landscape, but in my personal estimation, July 30, 2019 was about the beginning of a momentous, history changing event that though perhaps did not include everyone, would build upon this original foundation to include everyone. That being the case, I purposely chose what I deemed the most important and pertinent remarks from what was a well-crafted and articulate speech.
If one would like to find Mr. Meacham’s full remarks, please visit this article by The Hill’s Judy Kutz, which also highlights some of the same comments already mentioned.
Speaker Cox brought the Assembly back to order, presided over the Mace’s presentation, conducted a roll call, and then called for a recess as the Assembly proceeded to the next venue,a tent set up for the day’s main Assembly meeting.
The recreated Church inside James Fort at the Jamestown Settlement
Inside James Fort at Jamestown Settlement
Jamestown Settlement’s famous 1607 replica fleet
Recreated indian village at Jamestown Settlement
Brian Beckley as Sir George Yeardley
Mark Greenough as Speaker John Pory
Historian Jon Meacham
Reenactors at Jamestown Settlement’s Church
The tent audience watches proceedings
The Final Meeting took place at Jamestown Settlement’s Mall Area
The Assembly processional marched from the re-created church to the Settlement’s Mall Area, where organizers erected a tent for the day’s final meeting.
Speaker Cox brought the Assembly back to order before offering his own remarks and welcoming distinguished guests.
Illinois State Senator and President of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Toi Hutchinson followed Speaker Cox. Senator Hutchinson reflected on overcome challenges; challenges that could derail representative government if Americans are not on guard –
“I’m proud because despite the many challenges and setbacks this country has faced, America is still a place where our right to self-governance is not taken for granted, where we can challenge our government and debate our principles, and the institutions which provide for that right are held dear.”
“The institution of the legislature needs to be protected. For it is as strong and as fragile as democracy itself.” Said Senator Hutchinson before a crowd that stood in praise.
President Trump then arrived to deliver the keynote address.
Media doing their work
American Evolution and the Media await the Processional
The Processional from the Jamestown Settlement Church into the Tent
The Tent crowd awaits the day’s final session
Programs line the chairs
Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchinson addresses the Assembly
Speaker Kirkland Cox addresses the Assembly
President Trump Addresses Virginia’s General Assembly
In a historic twist on an already historic day, President Trump addressed the General Assembly. The President’s speech marked the first time that a sitting President of the United States addressed the Virginia General Assembly.
President Trump greeted those in attendance before highlighting Jamestown’s pre-1619 history. I’ll offer just a few remarks here, but if you want to see or read the entire keynote address, please, go here. Otherwise, here are a few key statements from the President’s speech.
Regarding Jamestown’s Early Years
“As we can see today on this great anniversary, it would not be the last time that God looked out for Virginia. Together, the settlers forged what would become the timeless traits of the American character. They worked hard, they had courage and abundance, and a wealth of self-reliance. They strived mightily to turn a profit, they experimented with producing silk, corn, tobacco, and the very first Virginia wines. At a prior settlement at Roanoke, there had been no survivors, none at all. But where others had typically perished, the Virginians were determined to succeed. They endured by the sweat of their labor, the aid of the Powhatan Indians, and the leadership of Captain John Smith.”
“As the years passed, ships bearing supplies and settlers from England also brought a culture and a way of life that would define the New World. It all began here. In time, dozens of brave strong women made the journey and join the colony and, in 1618, the Great Charter and other reforms established a system based on English common law. For the first time, Virginia allowed private land ownership. It created a basic judicial system. Finally, it gave the colonists essay in their own future, the right to elect representatives by popular vote.”
Regarding the Arrival of the First Africans
“As we mark the first representative legislature at Jamestown, our nation also reflects upon an anniversary from that same summer four centuries ago. In August 1619, the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies arrived in Virginia. It was the beginning of a barbaric trade in human lives. Today, and honor, we remember every sacred soul who suffered the horrors of slavery and the anguish of bondage. More than 150 years later, at America’s founding, our Declaration of Independence recognized the immortal truth that all men are created equal.”
“In the face of grave oppression and grave injustice, African-Americans have built, strengthened, inspired, uplifted, protected, defended, and sustained our nation from its very earliest days.”
Regarding the First Assembly’s Impact
“In the decades that followed that first legislative assembly, the Democratic tradition established here late deep roots all across Virginia. It spread up and down the Atlantic coast. One fact was quickly established for all time, in America, we are not ruled from afar, Americans govern ourselves. And so help us, God, we always will.”
“Self-government in Virginia did not just give us estate we love, in a very true sense, it gave us the country we love, the United States of America.”
“From the first legislative assembly down to today America has been the story of citizens who take ownership of their future and their control of their destiny. That is what self-rule is all about. Every day Americans coming together to take action, to build, to create, to seize opportunities. To pursue the common good and to never stop striving for greatness.”
“But among all of our America’s towering achievements none exceeds the triumph that we are here to celebrate today. Our nation’s priceless culture of freedom, independence, equality, justice and self-determination under God.”
“That culture is the source of who we are it is our prized inheritance it is our proudest legacy. It is among the greatest human accomplishments in the history of the world what you have done is the greatest accomplishment in the history of the world. And I congratulate you. It started right here.”
President Trump delivers keynote Address to the Virginia Assembly
President Trump delivers keynote Address to the Virginia Assembly
Delegate Ibrahim Sami
President Trump delivers keynote Address to the Virginia Assembly
Fixing the Presidential Seal in preparation of President Trump’s arrival
President Trump delivers keynote Address to the Virginia Assembly
President Trump delivers keynote Address to the Virginia Assembly
President Trump delivers keynote Address to the Virginia Assembly
President Trump’s arrival sparked a little controversy. There were those who did not welcome his attendance, and they expressed as much.
The great thing, as part of Virginia’s 1619 foundational legacy, is that such opposition is tolerated. Before that time, even in Virginia, such opposition would at least earn prison, torture, and usually death. 1619’s Assembly laid the framework from which liberty has evolved. Perhaps the demonstration was misplaced during such a historic occasion, but that still does not take away from the fact that one has the freedom to conscientiously object.
Individual liberty continues to grow today as it faces new challenges. The inheritors of such a legacy must continue to champion that individual liberty on a local, personal level. That is the sentiment upon which Virginia and later the United States was built. That sentiment began 400 years ago on a hot, often disease plagued island, and we still celebrate that event today.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of the Virginia House of Delegates Sergent at Arms John L. Pearson, Jr. carrying the Mace into the Tent.
The Commonwealth came to Virginia in 1652. Berkeley was out. The Virginia General Assembly then elected Richard Bennett, one of Parliament’s approved commissioners who was sent to force Virginia and Maryland into submission. Bennett was an extremely well connected man in both colonies, therefore he was the perfect person to answer Parliament’s call. But that call took slightly longer to answer than expected.
Once Berkeley surrendered his position, Bennett had little trouble in steering an increasingly-distant-from-England Virginia under the Protectorate. There were outliers, such as the Eastern Shore; however, who wanted to be separated from the colonial mainland. The best that could be done there was grant a form of semi-autonomy that many from the peninsula across the bay benefited.
Most did indeed prosper during this time, largely because of increasingly decentralized government that gave power into the smaller, local courts. But there were some who suffered.
Indians, mostly those who were out of state that began moving into lands left uninhabited by the shrinking Powhatan Confederacy, came into contact with English settlers on the frontiers during this period, and violence plagued both English and Indian settlements. The Assembly wanted to ensure peace, but they had little power to enforce their authority on the frontier lands so distant from Jamestown.
In time, the Assembly lifted many trade restrictions formerly existing between the English and Indians, which would go a long way to lessening tensions – though not completely.
Bennett’s finished his Parliamentary commissioned work after his gubernatorial tenure ran out. The second part of his commission was to subdue Maryland, a colony in which Bennett was quite familiar, since he and other Puritans fled there in the late 1640s.
Maryland’s proprietor, Lord Baltimore, a Royalist installed Puritan William Stone as his colony’s governor in 1648. Regardless of Stone’s religious stance, Parliament wanted to remove Baltimore from controlling the colony, because of his support for Charles II. Bennett and William Claiborne successfully removed Stone, and fended him off after the Battle of Severn in 1655, which allowed Parliament to reign supreme over the Chesapeake colonies.
But Parliament really didn’t care too much about Virginia and Maryland, at least that’s the impression both lands felt due to such scanty correspondence from London after 1652. Colonists decided that this was a good thing, and only increased their self-government, often in opposition to the government’s desire, as the Interregnum’s last governor, Samuel Matthews, Jr. discovered.
Perhaps in time Matthews and Parliament would have turned the screws on Virginia’s growing independence, but Matthews died soon after the Assembly overruled his command to dissolve, and Richard Cromwell, Oliver Cromwell’s son and heir chose to resign his position as Lord Protector in 1659. The Interregnum was over, and a familiar face soon returned to govern Virginia once again.
Governor Digg’s Bellfield Plantation Marker on the York River
Coastline along the York River near Bellfield Plantation just northwest of Yorktown, Virginia.
This APVA Marker shows just how layered Virginia’s History is. On it you have 3 very distinct eras 1. Colonial 17th Century 2. Colonial 18th Century 3. American Civil War. Photo Credit – Historical Marker Database
Battle of Bloody Run Marker in Richmond, VA Photo Credit – Historican Marker Database
APVA Commemoration Marker in Richmond, VA Photo Credit – rvahub.com
The Battle of the Severn, 1656 by artist James Edward Kelley was a depiction of essentially the last battle of the English Civil Wars, and it was fought in Maryland. Photo Credit – Wikipedia