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Inquiry Question

Historical Context

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About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file for "Montpelier," a National Trust for Historic Preservation/Montpelier historic structure report, and other sources about the social history of Montpelier. Memories of Montpelier was written by Candace Boyer, a former Museum Educator at Montpelier. The lesson was edited by Fay Metcalf, education consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: The lesson could be used in teaching units on early 19th-century American history. The lesson will help students gain a better understanding of James and Dolley Madison, of daily life at home, and of contemporary beliefs and behaviors regarding slavery.
Time period: 1801-1836
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To describe Montpelier and aspects of daily life there from James Madisonís tenure as secretary of state through his retirement years (1801-1836).
2) To explore the lives of James and Dolley Madison through the eyes of their contemporaries.
3) To examine the ideas and actions of the Madisons and others regarding slavery.
4) To evaluate a historic place and the people associated with it in their own community.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-quality version.
1) one map of the Chesapeake Bay region;
2) three readings from contemporary correspondence about daily life, slavery, and the Madisons at Montpelier;
3) one illustration and two photos of historical and modern views of Montpelier.

Visiting the site
Montpelier is one of 20 historic museum properties owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is located four miles southwest of Orange, Virginia, on Route 20, and lies approximately 25 miles north of Charlottesville and 70 miles south of Washington, D.C. It is open to the public daily April through November: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. December through March it is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Montpelier is closed on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. For more information, write to Montpelier, 11407 Constitution Highway, P.O. Box 67, Montpelier Station, VA 22957, or visit the Montpelier Web site.

 

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