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Virginia’s Pivotal Year: Four Centuries of American Evolution

This year marks the 400th anniversary of events that would change the course of what is now known as Virginia. During the summer of 1619 in the first permanent English colony of Jamestown, settlers held their first legislative General Assembly. In August privateers landed and sold the first Africans, captives who were booty seized from a Portuguese slave ship sailing from Angola. Although some early arrivals from Africa gained their freedom, the institution of race-based slavery soon took root. The Virginia Company in England organized the first large-scale transport of young women as wives for the settlers in America. These events and others during this pivotal year would alter the lives of the Indigenous people in this region and send rippling impacts throughout the rest of the country.

To recognize these significant events, the state of Virginia has partnered with national, local and private institutions to create the 2019 American Evolution Commemoration (AmericanEvolution2019.com). This yearlong series of programs, exhibitions and educational projects explores the lasting impacts of the intersection of American Indian, African American and Euro-American cultures as well as the roles of women during this formative year and beyond.

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