President Donald Trump offered congratulations to Virginians and their legislators on “four incredible centuries of history, heritage, and commitment to the righteous cause of American self-government.” President Trump participated in the Jamestown commemoration on Tuesday, July 30, marking the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere.

The president said, “This is truly a momentous occasion. In Virginia 400 years ago, on the shores of the James River, the first representative legislative assembly convened. Patriotism saw this righteous cause continue and flourish throughout the ages up until the present.

“To every Virginian and every legislator with us today, congratulations on four incredible centuries of history, heritage and commitment to the righteous cause of American self-government. This is truly a momentous occasion,” President Trump said.

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It started in 1619, a mile south from where the celebration was held, where 22 members of the house of burgesses assembled in a small wooden church. President Trump said, “They were adventurers and explorers, farmers and planters, soldiers, scholars, and clergymen. All had struggled. All had suffered. And all had sacrificed in pursuit of one wild and very improbable dream. They called that dream Virginia.”

In August 1619 the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies arrived in Virginia. The president said this “was the beginning of a barbaric trade in human lives and he said about the importance of remembering in honor, the first enslaved Africans who suffered the horrors of slavery and that we should all remember every sacred soul who suffered the horrors of slavery and the anguish of bondage.” The president went on to say that it was important to also remember the Declaration of Independence, which stated, “the immortal truth that all men are created equal.”

At the end of the ceremony the president left the audience with these powerful words, “After 400 years of glorious American democracy, we have returned here to this place to declare to all the world that the United States of America and the great Commonwealth of Virginia are just getting started.”