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January 22, 2008

Public invited to view commemorative joint session of the Virginia General Assembly via closed circuit TV

The public has the opportunity to view the commemorative joint session of the Virginia General Assembly at the Capitol in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area for the first time since the inaugural session 74 years ago. Colonial Williamsburg will provide a live closed circuit TV feed of the proceedings for public viewing in the Lane Auditorium at the Bruton Heights School Educational Center, located at 301 First St.

The General Assembly, the Western Hemisphere’s oldest elected deliberative body, will meet in special commemorative session at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26. The joint session of the Senate and House of Delegates is the 24th in a series of ceremonial assemblies that date from the 1934 dedication of the reconstructed Capitol on its colonial-era foundation. The General Assembly traces its origins to Virginia’s first elected legislature – the House of Burgesses, which met for the first time in a simple wooden church at Jamestown, the first capital of the Virginia colony, in 1619.

Following the tradition begun 74 years ago with the first commemorative session, the General Assembly -- with Gov. Tim Kaine, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the Justices of the Virginia Supreme Court and members of the Virginia Congressional Delegation -- returns to the Hall of the House of Burgesses in the Colonial Capitol to renew its inspiration and to strengthen its resolve to perpetuate the fundamental principles of free governments. During that first session at the Capitol dedication ceremonies Feb. 24, 1934, the senators and delegates passed legislation enabling the General Assembly to hold future sessions at the Capitol “at times that might seem proper.”

A highlight of each commemorative session is an address on current issues facing Virginia, the United States or the world. This year, the General Assembly will hear Michael Beschloss, author and presidential historian. Beschloss’ most recent book is “Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989.” Past commemorative session speakers have included President Gerald R. Ford, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Lewis Powell, U. S. Senator John Warner and Colonial Williamsburg benefactor John D. Rockefeller Jr., who addressed the General Assembly at the first session in 1934.

Seating at Lane Auditorium for viewing the commemorative session is free and open to the public. Due to limited seating in the Hall of the House of Burgesses, attendance at the joint commemorative legislative session in the Capitol is reserved for participants and the news media.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7280