As yesterday’s blog reminded us, the founding of Jamestown 400 years ago this week also marks the founding of manufacturing in the United States. After all, the settlers had to pay their way and manufacturing is what they thought of first. There was great celebration in Jamestown, Virginia over the weekend to mark this historical milestone and to remind the nation about its founding and some of the important values that originated with this first English settlement here. The President of the United States gave an inspiring speech, part of which is cited below:
From these humble beginnings, the pillars of a free society began to take hold. Private property rights encouraged ownership and free enterprise. The rule of law helped secure the rights of individuals. The creation of America’s first representative assembly ensured the consent of the people and gave Virginians a voice in their government. It was said at the time that the purpose of these reforms was, “to lay a foundation whereon a flourishing state might, in time, by the blessing of Almighty God, be raised.”
Not all people shared in these blessings. The expansion of Jamestown came at a terrible cost to the native tribes of the region, who lost their lands and their way of life. And for many Africans, the journey to Virginia represented the beginnings of a life of hard labor and bondage. Their story is a part of the story of Jamestown. It reminds us that the work of American democracy is to constantly renew and to extend the blessings of liberty.
The U.S. Postal Service is appropriately issuing a special stamp in honor of this milestone of U.S. history and I understand it is only the third time they have printed one in a triangular motif. I’ve heard that it represents the three-sided fort that the settlers built and which was only rediscovered by archaeologists ten years ago. I’d like to think, that per the President’s remarks, it is also evokes the coming together for the first time of European settlers, native Americans and African-Americans, the latter of course arriving on slave ships. This melding of three cultures is surely the basis of our nation too.
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