Happy Birthday, Mr. Madison!


On March 16, we celebrated a very special birthday at the home of the Father of the Constitution! Montpelier welcomed friends from all over to celebrate James Madison’s 261st birthday!

The day began with the launch of ConText, an online, crowd-sourced commentary of “Notes of Debates on the Federal Convention of 1787.” Madison carefully created the “Notes” as a record of the Constitutional Convention’s proceedings for future generations.
ConText offers users a broad range of options including:

• A current events section, which relates the “Notes” to today’s constitutional issues, as
well as historical and theoretical sections that provide insights into the debates at the

• An encyclopedia of people and terms that users may add to and edit to advance all users’
understanding of particular topics

• Searches by topic, keyword, or tag

The commemoration continued with an afternoon wreath laying ceremony in the Madison Family Cemetery. Colonel Frank N. McKenzie, assistant chief of staff, Marine Corps Base Quantico, presented the presidential wreath from President Barack Obama. Additionally several local organizations presented wreaths to honor the fourth president. John A. Ragosta, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities resident fellow, delivered his remarks entitled “Is James Madison Still Speaking to Us About Religious Freedom?”

If you missed the commemoration, you can still catch up on the day’s events. To start using ConText, visit the Center for the Constitution’s website. You can read Ragosta’s remarks on the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities website, and event photos are now on our Facebook page.









Montpelier Staff