Take the Tours – Montpelier
Montpelier is a unique and dynamic cultural institution that connects the past to the present through the lens of the Constitution. As the home of President James Madison and Dolley Madison, America’s first “First Lady,” Montpelier serves as a monument to James Madison and an institution committed to telling a complete American story, one that all visitors can connect with. Montpelier is home to 2,600 acres, including the historic house and grounds, gardens, workable archaeological sites, and over eight miles of walking trails. It is also home to the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, a premier constitutional training facility with programs for law enforcement, teachers, and international and young political figures.
Begin your day at Montpelier by taking the classic tour of James Madison’s mansion. The tour takes guests through the personal and professional life of America’s fourth President. Visitors will learn how the fourth President of the United States lived and entertained guests with his wife, Dolley. Additionally, the tour allows visitors to understand how Madison earned the title “Father of the Constitution.” This exploration of the house offers insights into all parts of Madison’s life, led by Montpelier’s expert interpreters.
Dolley Madison, known as America’s first First Lady, played an equally quintessential role in American history. After losing the 1808 election to James Madison, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney stated, “I was beaten by Mr. and Mrs. Madison. I might have had a better chance had I faced Mr. Madison alone.” Dolley Madison was a dynamic and revered figure who seamlessly melded politics and society. The tour guides at Montpelier tell the story of her sweeping influences on fashion and pop culture. Additionally, visitors learn about other integral women, both free and enslaved, who founded, farmed, managed, and maintained Montpelier for 300 years.
Because slaves functioned as important components to the mere existence of Montpelier, the tour also focuses on their story. During Madison’s time, slavery was one of the greatest paradoxes in America. Madison, like many of his colleges, owned slaves, yet promoted the idea that “all men are created equal.” This outdoor walking tour allows visitors to view how the multiple generations of Montpelier’s enslaved community lived and labored.
As the Father of the Constitution and architect of the Bill of Rights, Madison played a crucial role in the new American experiment. His legacy lives on at this picturesque plantation, where a holistic American story is interpreted every day.
Thanks for checking out Take the Tours – Montpelier! Want to learn more about James Madison’s former home? Find all you need to know about Montpelier in the Charlottesville Guide.