It’s the early spring of 1861. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas have all seceded. The first shots of the Civil War ring out over Fort Sumter. In Virginia, a state secession convention is underway, but a cloud of uncertainty hovers over the state. What would life in the Confederacy mean for Virginians serving in the U.S. Army? What would a war mean to civilians at home?
Do you remember the Case of the Missing Painting, where our curatorial detectives tracked down a work of art which had hung at Montpelier and then traveled to Washington with Dolley in the 1840s? The painting was on display in the Montpelier Visitor Center Grills Gallery in May 2008, and removed in October 2010 for conservation and cleaning.
Have you ever wondered what an insider’s view of Montpelier is like? The Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier is offering the chance to find out! Participants in the Center’s new evening seminar, “James and Dolley Madison and the Founding of Our Nation” will come to Montpelier, learn about the Constitution, tour the Madisons’ home, and see the latest archaeological dig through this rare educational experience.
When was the last time you had a party with 1,000 of your friends? Montpelier was thrilled to welcome the more than 1,000 people who joined us a few days ago to celebrate the anniversary of James Madison’s 260th birthday!
Two hundred sixty years ago today Nelly Conway Madison gave birth to James Madison, Jr. in Port Conway, Virginia. Nelly and her husband, James Madison, Sr. raised their son at Montpelier, where young James developed an insatiable intellectual curiosity. This curiosity remained with Madison as he traveled to the College of New Jersey (today Princeton University), where he completed the curriculum ahead of his classmates and became the school’s first graduate student.
James Madison is often remembered as a contemplative scholar, a political philosopher, and an ardent life-long learner. Like most educated men of his generation, he maintained a sizeable reference collection, including nearly 4,000 published volumes, stacks of significant newspapers, and other materials. To enhance his study of national, international, and state politics as well as his interest in the natural world, Madison often referred to sources beyond text: maps and globes.
Do you enjoy the mental challenge of a game of chess, moving the pieces across the board trying to bring about check or checkmate? Or is your interest in chess limited to vague memories of the chess match between Russian Grandmaster Kasparaov facing off against the chess-playing computer Deep Blue, or maybe having seen The Search for Bobby Fisher? Either way, we hope you’re as excited as we are about Montpelier’s latest acquisition: a Madison-era chess set, now on view in the Drawing Room!
Does the number 1.618 mean anything to you? Perhaps not, but it is a number of importance to many mathematicians, architects, art history scholars, and maybe to our very own James Madison. In fact, it is the latest clue in the Presidential Detective Story.