Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Field Trip: James Madison's Montpelier

Today is James Madison's 259th birthday.  We know that because they celebrate at his home (and later retirement spot) with a special wreath-laying ceremony by representatives of the US Marine Corps (who knew that the USMC considers Madison their "father") at his grave and allow free admission to his home and gardens.  Which is great for us as it would cost $40 for the kids and I to go see this wonderful spot of American History!

Not only was James Madison our 4th president, he was the one who wrote the United States Constitution.  But he didn't just slap words on paper -- Mr. Madison spent the year before the conference, studying other past republics and non-monarchies to figure out WHY they failed and thus prevent our "great experiment" from failing .... and some two hundred twenty-three years later, we're still going strong!

It was a glorious Spring day down in Orange County, VA ... a strong breeze was slowly blowing the clouds away and you could see the Blue Ridge from the front porch of Montpelier ...
The original house (where the Madisons moved to when James was 13 or so) was smaller than what you'll see today.  Here, you can see the extensions that James Madison put onto Montpelier while he was President -- he and Dolley MUCH preferred entertaining down here than up in stuffy Washington at the new White House -- their guests concurred and there were always anywhere from 25-200 people "visiting".
The kids had a blast getting to know the Madisons ....

exploring the grounds ... including "Mr. Madison's Temple" -- 30 feet below this structure was the Madison "refrigerator" where ice from the nearby river kept food cold all summer long ...

we were also able to see the Archaeology Lab, where the kids could look at artifacts already tagged, bits and pieces still being identified and even practice at a "real" dig.  VERY cool!

We were sorry to end our tour ... although the kids were pretty hungry by then so willingly allowed mom one last look at the Kitchens before heading for lunch!

BTW, James Madison's mother, always called "Mother Madison" or "the old lady" .... always had by her side: her Bible, her prayer book, and her KNITTING!  (On top of that, she had 12 kids and homeschooled them all through what we would call middle school, if not beyond.)  I need to find out more about this woman!

On our way home (Montpelier is only 30 minutes from home ... pretty darn cool!), we stopped at our public library to drop off/pick up books and guess what -- I won a coffee/tea lovers basket for an adult reading program .... the end to a perfect outing!

No comments:

Post a Comment