The James Madison University field school has had a fantastic run at revealing the secrets of the quarters for field slaves just below Montpelier’s Visitor Center. We have opened up close to 50 units and are slowly developing an idea of how this set of homes was laid out.
This year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, also known as “Mr. Madison’s War.” Two hundred years ago, this war tested our young nation. President Madison proved the United States could go to war without depriving citizens of their constitutional rights.
In the early nineteenth century, many fashionable men and women including Napoleon Bonaparte, Henry Clay, Queen Charlotte of England (wife of George III), and Dolley Madison dipped snuff. The nicotine stimulant made from ground tobacco leaves was typically stored in a small highly decorated box made of silver, tortoise shell, or other decorative material.
The Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier runs both the District of Columbia and Virginia We the People programs. Both the DC and Virginia teams competed at the recent 2012 We the People National Finals, which tests students on their knowledge of the Constitution.
The Archaeology team has begun its excavations at the quarters for field slaves, located just below the visitor center. We are searching for the remains of the homes for farm slaves who lived in this area from the late 1700s-1844. Back in 2002, when we were planning for the construction of the visitor center, we located a very well preserved farm complex dating back to the Madison era.
April 21-28, Montpelier will celebrate the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week along with sister historic sites and landmarks across the commonwealth. The Orange County Tour, entitled “Mr. Madison’s Neighborhood,” includes stops at James Madison’s Montpelier, Somerset Plantation, Mayhurst Inn, and Woodley.
In honor of the 74th anniversary of Battleship’s victory at Aintree and the long legacy of the duPont family at Montpelier, a collection of additional notable duPont objects are now on display in the William duPont Gallery at the Montpelier Visitor Center.
The vision of forest sustainability, as imagined by James Madison at Montpelier, stood in contrast to the wanton resource extraction he observed in the early 1800s. Today, those same forests have not only recovered, they are sustainably managed and boast the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first smartphone tree ID trail.
One of the most oft-repeated yet ill-cited pieces of Madison lore suggests Dolley Madison instituted the famous Easter egg roll on the White House lawn. When the tale appeared in published monograph, it was often paired with such qualifying phrases as “according to tradition” or “as the story goes.”