- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The last time a governor of Virginia was inaugurated on the cobblestone streets of Williamsburg, the high-ranking statesmen carried walking sticks and wore knee-high socks, britches and buckled shoes.

And, James Madison and George Mason were among the likely guests invited to witness an event that took place only twice at the old state capital: In 1779, when Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as Virginia’s second governor, and in 1776, when Patrick Henry became Virginia’s first governor.

Next month, Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine will become the first Virginia chief executive to be inaugurated in Williamsburg since 1779.

The ceremony, scheduled for Jan. 14, was moved from Richmond because the state Capitol grounds — where the inauguration usually takes place — are undergoing renovation.

The move to Williamsburg, which served as the Colonial-era capital from 1699 to 1780 will also help promote the state’s Jamestown 2007 celebration.



Mr. Kaine’s inaugural staff yesterday toured the site to plan logistics, such as security, traffic and the mile-long parade route, said Jeff Kraus, inaugural press director.

“To a large degree, it’s meshing the old world of Virginia with the new Virginia,” he said. “The historic tie is tremendous.”

It will be a far different affair compared with the ones Henry and Jefferson experienced.

“A committee was sent to fetch Mr. Henry and inform him that he’d been chosen to be governor,” said Jim Bradley, public-affairs manager of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Little is known about the first inaugurations, save one article published in July 1776 in the Virginia Gazette, Mr. Bradley said. Based on the article, he deduces the inauguration for Henry was held sometime between June 29 and July 2.

The oath of office was just a few sentences, and there was little pomp or circumstance surrounding the inauguration. “It was pretty matter-of-fact,” Mr. Bradley said.

The legislature elected statesmen for a one-year term; Henry served three terms.

Virginia did not begin popularly electing governors until 1851. Voters chose Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, over Republican Jerry W. Kilgore and independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr. last month.

At Mr. Kaine’s inauguration, the 140-member General Assembly will convene at the re-created Colonial Capitol to witness the swearing-in.

Lt. Gov.-elect William T. Bolling, a Republican, and the state’s next attorney general — either Republican Robert F. McDonnell or Democrat R. Creigh Deeds — will also be inaugurated that day.

Mr. McDonnell this week was certified the winner of the race by 323 votes, the tightest margin in state history, but Mr. Deeds has asked for a recount. The results will be tabulated by Jan. 14.

After the swearing-in ceremony, the three newly inaugurated officials will be taken in a horse-drawn carriage down Duke of Gloucester Street to a reviewing stand, where they can watch the inaugural parade go by before it concludes at the Governor’s Palace.

Mr. Kraus said the parade will likely showcase a blending of the state’s rich history.

The Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps will be among those dressed in period costumes marching in the parade. The parade will begin with a flyover by the Virginia Air National Guard.

Later that night, Mr. Kaine will host inaugural galas at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg and at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

More details about parade participants and events surrounding the Inauguration are expected to be announced today.

The festivities, however, will start long before the actual swearing-in.

Mr. Kaine will host a pre-inaugural ball on Jan. 7 in Abingdon in Southwest Virginia. He also will hold community-service events in Williamsburg the day before the inauguration and a prayer service before the ceremony.

Mr. Kraus said the inauguration also will serve as a reminder of the 400th birthday of the commonwealth. “The bottom line is, this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Virginia,” he said.

Jamestown was the capital from 1607 until 1699, when the House of Burgesses moved to Williamsburg.

Jefferson moved the capital from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780.

Since then, all governors have been inaugurated at the state Capitol in Richmond, which Jefferson designed.

Henry Howell is the only Virginia politician to hold an inauguration in Williamsburg, taking his oath of office as lieutenant governor there in 1971.

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