- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2000

The 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding is seven years away, but plans already are under way in anticipation of record crowds invading the tiny Virginia island for a yearlong celebration.

The U.S. House of Representatives last week approved legislation creating a federal commission to raise national awareness about the first permanent English settlement in North America. H.R. 4909 was introduced in July by Rep. Herbert H. Bateman, Virginia Republican, who died Sept. 11. The Senate measure, S. 2885, cosponsored by Sen. Charles S. Robb, Virginia Democrat, and Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, is awaiting approval.

"This is going to be a massive celebration that is national in scope," said David Marin, a spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, who managed the House floor debate Monday in honor of Mr. Bateman.

"We think that it is an excellent opportunity for Virginia to capitalize on the attention and pay tribute to Congressman Bateman on a national stage," Mr. Marin said.

A group of 104 English settlers founded Jamestown on May 13, 1607, on the banks of Virginia's James River. While it was not the first settlement in North America the Spanish founded St. Augustine in the 1560s it was the first permanent English settlement, having a major impact on how the early English Colonies developed.

The last anniversary celebration, in 1957, attracted more than a million people, including Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family. Organizers back then advised more time in planning future events.

Nationwide, people got a taste of Jamestown history in October with the introduction of the Virginia quarter. The coin features the three ships the Discover, the Susan Constant and the Godspeed that brought settlers to the New World.

The federal commission will provide the Virginia-based 2007 Celebration Steering Committee with expertise and manpower from the National Park Service.

"Federal involvement will help raise awareness around the country, if not around the world, about all the traditions that came out of Jamestown, such as the rule of law, representative government, free enterprise and individual liberties," said Norman G. Beatty, director of the 2007 group.

The 2007 committee has several ideas for the celebration, including two major sailing events, a possible return by the royal family, major road construction, large-scale international conferences, a symphony orchestra piece created for Jamestown and a two-year exhibit on Jamestown history.

The Jamestown settlement had roughly 600,000 visitors last year, and planners conservatively estimate 1.1 million for the 2007 event. Hundreds of volunteers are expected to help with the logistics and planning when the big year arrives, Mr. Beatty said.

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