Social Studies - 2018-19

VS.3d - General Assembly

The student will demonstrate an understanding of the first permanent English settlement in America by

d) identifying the importance of the General Assembly (1619) as the first representative legislative body in English America.

Adopted: 2015


  • Every group of people needs a political structure.
  • There are many different forms of government.
  • The type of government a society has influences the way its people live.


As Jamestown grew, Virginia’s system of government evolved.


System of government

In 1619, the governor of Virginia called a meeting of the General Assembly. The General Assembly included two representatives, called burgesses, from each of the divisions of Virginia, along with the governor’s Council and the governor. They met as one legislative body. At that time, only certain free adult men had the right to take part.

The current Virginia General Assembly dates back to 1619 with the establishment of the General Assembly and its burgesses in Jamestown. It was the first elected legislative body in English North America and gave some settlers the opportunity to take part in controlling their own government.

House of Burgesses

By the 1640s, the burgesses became a separate legislative body, called the House of Burgesses. They met separately from the governor’s Council as one of the two legislative bodies of the General Assembly.


Updated: May 18, 2018