Field Complex (1723-1763)

Research & Collections

Although the Madisons would not move to Mount Pleasant for another nine years, in 1723 the plantation was occupied and worked by an overseer and enslaved field laborers. Their job was simultaneously simple yet back breaking: they were to carve a plantation out of the wilderness. They had to fell acres of mature trees to create fields, and build houses and barns to prove that it was a viable farm. Without this initial labor, the land patent, granted to Madison through his marriage to Frances Taylor Madison, would have passed out of the Madison family.

Today, the Tobacco Barn Quarter in the Field Complex bears the name of the crop grown on it, the principle crop of the 18th century. While the importance of tobacco would change over the years, it was still being grown in the area until the 1840s. Erosion would render these fields useless after the Revolutionary War, and after that time they were used as a living and work complex for field slaves.

Artists rendering of tobacco field beside Mount pleasant.  Courtesy of Linda Boudreaux Montgomery