James Madison's Montpelier Joins Globe in Celebrating the Life of Nelson Mandela


The Montpelier Foundation celebrates the life of South Africa’s former President, Nelson Mandela.  Although Madison and Mandela shared neither geography nor generation, these statesmen shared a capacity to redirect the structure of a weak nation and establish democratic models that continue to inspire people around the world seeking freedom.

Madison noted that “the happy union of these states is a wonder” and that “the hope of liberty” would transcend physical borders. James Madison’s Montpelier recognizes that South Africa, in large part to Mandela’s efforts, has become a nation that follows this sense of enthusiasm for unity, freedom, and hope.  While the world mourns the loss of President Mandela, Montpelier celebrates his life and the future of self-government.

In collaboration with the Embassy of South Africa, the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier hosted a seminar in 2012 to explore the impact the two leaders had on their respective nations and continue to have in relation to constitutionalism worldwide. Held on South Africa’s Human Rights Day, the program, “Founding Conversations: James Madison and Nelson Mandela,” paid particular attention to the convergences and divergences of the two constitutions as well as how they serve as useful tools for other countries seeking constitutional provisions for rights and freedoms.

Built on the principles of rule of law, individual rights, and representative government, the constitutions of the United States and South Africa continue to impact global statecraft.  The Montpelier Foundation remembers James Madison and Nelson Mandela with gratitude for their leadership, determination, and vision, and we celebrate their greatest enduring legacies—freedom.  


Communications Department