May 12, 2009

James Madison, father of the constitution





James Madison, our fourth president, is credited with drafting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He also wrote, along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, several of the essays known collectively as The Federalist Papers. We went to Montpelier, Madison's home in Virginia, a couple of years ago during the restoration. At that time, they were down to the lathe. But it was still pretty interesting to hear about the process and stand in the room where Madison looked out across the hills and fields when he wrote. Anyway, we'll be going back next week to see how things are progressing. I'm doing a Colonial Artisans Faire at Endview Plantation near Williamsburg and we'll be staying over in Virginia for some historic sightseeing and wine tasting. In the meantime, I thought you might like to see my Madison figure. He was a little bugger, but I finally got him done.

Nina

7 comments:

Holladay House Bed and Breakfast said...

My wife and I own and operate a bed and breakfast in Orange, VA, only a few miles from Montpelier. Built around 1830, the Holladay House is the only federal-style madison-era inn operating in Orange. We love Montpelier and can highly recommend visiting and touring the property. A new multi-million dollar visitor's center has a lot to offer guests, and there are plenty of things to do and see in addition to the house, such as Gilmore Cabin, an in-process reconstruction of a Confederate encampment, the landmark forest, and the gardens. The last time I visited, most of the interior architecture was complete (i.e., no more lathe), and Montpelier researchers were earnestly beginning to research the provenance of Madison-owned furnishings and decor. The story they tell is fascinating, and their diligence in recovering Montpelier's lost history is admirable.

Nina Mason said...

We do plan to visit Montpelier while we're here. We arrived in Virginia (Williamsburg) this afternoon and have just gotten into our room after setting up our fly for the event this weekend. James Madison is with me and wants to know if you liked him or not.

Nina

Holladay House Bed and Breakfast said...

Yes, your Mr. Madison doll looks quite studious, exemplfying the bookworm that he was! You may inform him that he looks quite sharp--patrician, even! Glad to hear you arrived in Virginia safely. When you are in Orange, please stop by to say hello! Our inn (http://www.holladayhousebandb.com) is packed full of guests this weekend, but if you need a place to stay on Monday, we'd be glad to accommodate you.

Nina Mason said...

Thanks for the offer. We'll be in Williamsburg until sometime on Wednesday, then heading to Charolottesville. We're staying at the Courtyard Marriott, which isn't my first choice of place, but had what we needed in terms of space. We hope to do some serious winetasting up and around your neck of the woods, so we'll stop by if we have time. The event today was rained out, so we still have James Madison in tow.

If you can recommend some good wineries, that would be appreciated. We know about Barboursville and will be hitting it while we're there.

Nina

mebrett said...

Do let us know your impressions of Montpelier - always curious how it looks to people who say it mid-restoration.

Nina Mason said...

Thanks, Magpie, I will. I enjoyed your post on Tartan Heritage Societies and will visit your blog again. I dabble in history and am far less erudite in elocution than you, but so be it. We went to the tourist Scottish shop in Williamsburg the other day, hoping to see the Clan Rayburn tartan (which I now know is total bullsheet), but didn't have a great experience. They could not find the tartan in any of their books (I know it exists and that it's a Scottish "clan," even if it's a modern invented one). The Rayburns hail from Ayshire (sic), which is probably in the lowlands. I'll have to check. But I digress. The people at the shop kept saying "that's expensive" when we asked to see stuff. We were pretty pissed. Did we look like we couldn't afford it? I drive a Jaguar for Christ's sake. Not that they would know that. Little did they know, they could have sold me a $600 custom kilt instead of the $40 kilt pin I bought. Afterward, when Dan and I were talking about our bad experience, he said: I guess they're used to dealing with cheap Scots and that they're cheap Scots themselves (I paraphrase). So they can't imagine anyone paying for their overpriced crap. LOL. I made a good joke when they couldn't find his tartan. You probably had to be there, but the lady asked me if I was sure it was a Scottish clan and not Irish. I said, "They're so Scottish, they're too cheap to buy their own tartan." Like I said, you had to be there. It doesn't sound as funny here.

Oh well. Sigh. Guess I'll be ordering Dan's kilt at Scotweb.com. At least they have his bloody tartan (even if it is fake).

Nina

mebrett said...

Nina - you write very well! Other public history professionals read that blog, which is why I try to be more academic in my writing.

I think your story about the shop is hilarious. I lived in Edinburgh for a year, and some of the shops there were like that, too.

I did a little digging and it seems Rayburn might have been a sept of clan Boyd - or at least it is now. Electric Scotland's a good website for such things. And if you are going to order a kilt, may I suggest Geoffrey Tailor? My dad got his kilt from them (they came to VA highland games) and I got mine from 21st century kilts, which is a subsidiary.

Hope you enjoy your visit to Orange County when you come!