ERW Weekender: In the Footsteps of James Madison

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Kate Bitely 

In the Foot Steps of James Madison.

A view of the front yard of Montpelier
A view from the front yard of Montpelier (author collection)

Spring is finally here in Virginia and if you are looking for a place to explore that offers a great outdoor experience, get in the car and head to Montpelier, in Orange Virginia. James Madison’s plantation home offers visitors a glimpse of what life was like in colonial America.   Be sure to start your trip with the feature film in the welcome center that provides highlights of Montpelier’s lengthy history dating back to the mid 1700’s.  The preserved property has something to offer everyone including hikes, gardens, and a breath-taking view of the blue ridge mountains. The grounds are filled with opportunities to learn about our nation’s early history and the impact it still has on our country today.

The 60-minute house tour delves into the life of James Madison from boyhood to the later years when he and wife Dolly moved back to the homestead post-presidency.  Be sure to take a look at Madison’s library, living quarters and office space to gain insights about the interests and quarks of the revolutionary political thinker. The lower level of the home includes the parlor and dining room which tell the story of Dolly Madison as a warm host for a variety of guests including neighbor, Thomas Jefferson, and the famous Marquis de Lafayette.

Historians have been working hard to restore the property and recently uncovered a clue as to what wall paper may have been used in one of the bedrooms. Like most plantations, Montpelier relied on enslaved labor which is memorialized today in a powerful exhibit, The Mere Distinction of Color, located in the basement of the home. Next to the home, you’ll notice the work of archaeologists bringing life to other elements of the homestead such as the kitchen and stable yards. Montpelier is offering special restoration tours that detail all the work being done around the property.

An admission fee is required, however, children 5 and under are free and discounts are offered for military and seniors. More information on the cost of a visit is available on their website. Take a look at their varied tours and see which one looks most interesting to you. They have a number of exciting events coming up so don’t wait to visit.


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One thought on “ERW Weekender: In the Footsteps of James Madison

  1. Pingback: History after a Pandemic | Emerging Revolutionary War Era

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