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- Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Founding of the General Assembly of Virginia


Seal of the Governor's Council, Seventeenth century. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

The first meeting of the General Assembly of Virginia took place at the church building in Jamestown on 30 July 1619. The session lasted for four hot days, not including a Sunday. The founding of the first and oldest representative legislative body in the western hemisphere was an event of epic importance in Virginia and the United States.

It may surprise people that the records of the first General Assembly are not preserved in the Virginia state archives, which are in the Library of Virginia in Richmond. There are two important reasons why that is not the case.

The first reason is that the General Assembly was not technically a governmental institution. It was a new instrument that the Virginia Company of London created to manage its small settlement in the New World. Consequently, the records belonged to the company, a chartered speculative investment enterprise that operated under a royal charter and had settled the colony.

The other reason is that any copies of the 1619 documents that may have remained in the General Assembly’s possession would have been destroyed along with most of the legislative and executive records of the colony in one of the British raids on Richmond during the American Revolution. In fact, histories of Virginia written before that time suggest that no copy was in the colony even then. The one … read more »

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- Open Data for Public Good


Governor McAuliffe signing legislation related to opioid addiction, 2017.

“Abuse of opioids continues to kill Virginians.”

Governor McAuliffe made that blunt yet true statement in a February 2017 press release announcing his signing of several House and Senate bills designed to fight the epidemic of opioid abuse and overdose. Virginia is focused on addressing the disease of addiction as well as helping individuals, families, and communities recover from and ultimately prevent the spread of substance abuse. Governor McAuliffe has been committed to finding solutions to the opioid epidemic since 2014, when he established the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse.

Annually, the Governor challenges all Virginians to use the government’s publicly available data (also known as open data) to help address some of Virginia’s biggest challenges. On 28 and 29 September, teams of data analysts and programmers will descend upon the Library of Virginia to do just that for the 2017 Governor’s Datathon. Their focus will be on addressing the crisis of opioid addiction in Virginia.

The first Datathon, held in 2014, started out with only state agency teams participating. The goal was to help change culture and encourage state employees to use more data and analytics in their operations and decision-making. As the Datathon has evolved, the goals became more focused on the Governor’s highest priorities. Prior challenges included addressing education outcomes, health disparities, safer roads, and diversifying the New Virginia Economy. The … read more »

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