Updated:
Original:
Year
1619
Month Day
July 30

First legislative assembly in America convenes in Jamestown

In Jamestown, Virginia, the first elected legislative assembly in the New World—the House of Burgesses—convenes in the choir of the town’s church.

Earlier that year, the London Company, which had established the Jamestown settlement 12 years before, directed Virginia Governor Sir George Yeardley to summon a “General Assembly” elected by the settlers, with every free adult male voting. Twenty-two representatives from the 11 Jamestown boroughs were chosen, and Master John Pory was appointed the assembly’s speaker. On July 30, the House of Burgesses (an English word for “citizens”) convened for the first time. Its first law, which, like all of its laws, would have to be approved by the London Company, required tobacco to be sold for at least three shillings per pound. Other laws passed during its first six-day session included prohibitions against gambling, drunkenness, and idleness, and a measure that made Sabbath observance mandatory.

The creation of the House of Burgesses, along with other progressive measures, made Sir George Yeardley exceptionally popular among the colonists, and he served two terms as Virginia governor.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

USS Indianapolis torpedoed

On this day in 1945, the USS Indianapolis is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sinks within minutes in shark-infested waters. Only 316 of the 1,196 men on board survived. However, the Indianapolis had already completed its major mission: the delivery of key components of the ...read more

Watergate affair approaches climax

Under coercion from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Richard M. Nixon releases subpoenaed White House recordings–suspected to prove his guilt in the Watergate scandal–to special prosecutor Leon Jaworski. The same day, the House Judiciary Committee voted a third article of ...read more

Caitlyn Jenner wins Olympic decathlon

On July 30, 1976, American Caitlyn Jenner—who was competing as Bruce Jenner—wins gold in the men's decathlon at the Montreal Olympics. Jenner's 8,617 points set a world record in the event. The secret to Jenner’s success was preparation. In the 1970s, most decathletes trained ...read more

Man charged in murder of Megan Kanka

Jesse Timmendequas is charged with the murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey. Kanka’s death inspired Megan’s Law, a statute enacted in 1994 requiring that information about convicted sex felons be available to the public. Versions of Megan’s Law have been passed in ...read more