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Trump expected to address Virginia lawmakers to mark 400 years of representative government
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Trump expected to address Virginia lawmakers to mark 400 years of representative government

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President Donald Trump is expected to travel to Jamestown, birthplace of representative government in America, to commemorate its 400th anniversary in an address to the Virginia legislature on July 30 — the day in 1619 that the General Assembly met for the first time.

An individual familiar with the planning of the event said Friday that Trump is scheduled to speak that morning at the restored Jamestown Settlement.

The presidential visit, which has yet to be officially announced, will be part of a weeklong observance that includes a commemoration of the arrival of African slaves in Great Britain’s Virginia colony several weeks after the General Assembly’s initial meeting.

Planning papers circulating in state government do not mention Trump by name but refer to a “special guest.”

In a joint statement Friday night, House and Senate Democratic leaders said they would boycott any part of the commemoration that the president attends.

"The current president does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world," says the statement from House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, House Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax and Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke, D-Hampton. 

"We offer just three words of advice to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation: 'Send Him Back.' "

That is a reference to Trump rally goers in North Carolina who chanted "Send Her Back," Wednesday in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat who was born in Somalia.

Also scheduled to speak in Jamestown is historian Jon Meacham, who has been critical of the president, most recently for his tweets directed at four congresswomen of color - Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

Virginia is the only Southern state Trump failed to carry in 2016 against Democrat Hillary Clinton. In July 2017, Trump traveled to Norfolk, down the James River from Jamestown, for remarks aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier.

Trump has reached to Jamestown’s earliest days for the nickname he has affixed to a prospective challenger next year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. The president refers to Warren as Pocahontas as a way to mock the senator’s claims of Native American heritage.

Pocahontas, daughter of the powerful chief Powhatan, helped nurture peace between the English settlers, who arrived in 1607, and the Indian alliance that then dominated eastern Virginia. She later married an Englishman and traveled to Great Britain, where she died in 1617 — two years before the General Assembly first convened.

jschapiro@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6814

Twitter: @RTDSchapiro

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