Our Visit to Montpelier

While in Virginia doing the catalogue press check, we took advantage of a several-hour break and went to the nearby estate of our fourth President, James Madison. Amazingly, we were among some of the very first visitors to the estate since the restoration back to its Madison-era appearance. We learned that, after the duPont family purchased the estate around 1900, they transformed the building from a 22-room home, to a 55-room home. All duPont additions have now been removed, revealing underneath the structure as it was in the days that the Madisons resided there.

The view as we approach Montpelier

The view as we approach Montpelier

On the front lawn of the fully-restored Montpelier

On the front lawn of the fully-restored Montpelier

The view Madison had from his roof-top terrace

The view Madison had from his roof-top terrace

Annie duPont's formal garden

Annie duPont’s formal garden

Our tour guide shared one observation of the Madisons’ marriage and devotion to each other that we found quite endearing. During his study to prepare for leading tours of Montpelier, our guide observed only two documented cases in which James and Dolley Madison were separated from each other during the whole course of their forty-two-year marriage. One instance was during James’ presidency and the War of 1812. He was serving as commander-in-chief on the battlefield, and thus left his wife behind in the safety of their home. The only other documented instance was when he took a short trip to nearby Charlottesville, Virginia. In writing to his wife, he stated that he missed her so much, he was determined to never leave her again. The letter was dated a mere two days into his absence!

In front of the resting place of the fourth President

In front of the resting place of the fourth President

Obelisk marking the grave of Dolley Madison

Obelisk marking the grave of Dolley Madison

It is thought that Madison's parents & grandparents are buried here also

It is thought that Madison’s parents & grandparents are buried here also

My wife reads a tomb’s inscription in the Madison family cemetery

My wife reads a tomb’s inscription in the Madison family cemetery

While at Montpelier, we visited the Education Center where we were intrigued by a timeline on the wall displaying U.S. and world events concurrent with the lives of James and Dolley Madison. We noted especially some of the events that Dolley (1768-1849), who outlived James by 13 years, would have still been alive to experience or hear of. Some were rather surprising. It is also odd to consider that the War Between the States began only twelve years after her passing! Among the events that took place in her lifetime were these:

  • 1776 – The Declaration of Independence is drafted
  • 1787 – The Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia
  • 1789 – The French Revolution begins
  • 1791 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dies
  • 1803 – The U.S. acquires 828,000 square miles as a result of The Louisiana Purchase
  • 1807 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee is born
  • 1808 – Beethoven premieres his 5th Symphony in Vienna
  • 1812 – The War of 1812 begins
  • 1821 – Mexico wins its independence from Spain
  • 1834 – Slavery abolished in the British Empire
  • 1835 – Charles Darwin travels on the Beagle to the Galápagos Islands
  • 1836 – Texas wins its independence from Mexico
  • 1837 – The development of the first John Deere tractor occurs
  • 1838 – The coronation of Queen Victoria takes place
  • 1839 – Daguerre invents the first form of photography
  • 1844The Three Musketeers is written by Alexander Dumas
  • 1848 – The California Gold Rush begins
  • 1848 – Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto is published
2017-02-22T16:44:13+00:00 September 29th, 2008|Family, History|