James Madison's MontpelierA Distinctive Destination
Visit James Madison's MontpelierPlan Your Visit
Montpelier is the lifelong home of James Madison, fourth President of the United States, father of the Constitution, and architect of the Bill of Rights; and his wife, Dolley, America's first "First Lady." The historic home and grounds are open to visitors seven days a week.
House tours are complemented by the nationally acclaimed exhibition "The Mere Distinction of Colour," along with walking tours, galleries, the Museum Shop, the Madison family and slave cemeteries, an archaeology lab and active archaeological dig sites, formal gardens, over 8 miles of forest trails, and award-winning barbecue at the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center's Exchange Cafe.
Montpelier is administered by The Montpelier Foundation and is a National Trust Historic Site. Montpelier is a monument to James Madison and the enslaved community, a museum of American history, and a center for constitutional education that engages the public with the enduring legacy of Madison's most powerful idea: government by the people.
At Montpelier, James Madison shaped the ideas that would become the U.S. Constitution. For six months, Madison sat in his upstairs library where he meticulously studied past forms of governments and organized his thoughts into what he believed were the ideal principles for a representative democracy. Madison’s ideas would become the “Virginia Plan,” and later the framework for the Constitution.
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”President James Madison
Montpelier’s museum experience focuses equally on James and Dolley Madison’s political and cultural impact during the Early Republic and on interpreting the lives of the enslaved community and their descendants’ struggle for freedom and equal rights. In addition to the two existing structures that date to James Madison’s lifetime–the mansion and a neoclassical temple–Montpelier also interprets a historic freedman’s cabin and a Jim Crow-era train depot and maintains more than 100 historic structures, many of which date to the period when it was principal residence of William S. duPont and his family, whose heirs transferred the estate to the National Trust in 1983.
James Madison’s Montpelier is also home to one of the nation’s largest archaeology research projects for the study of slavery and to the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, a nexus for constitutional education and dialogue that offers year-round online and residential programs.
Benefits for National Trust Members
50% Discount on General Admission
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