I am heading to Washington for the 9/12 National Taxpayer Protest (www.912dc.org) – along the journey we are stopping to visit our founding fathers for inspiration.
We spent the day with Thomas Jefferson at his home Monticello. Modern day folks often tend to think of the founding fathers as “old white men.” But that is thinking of them after the American Revolution! Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence when he was only 33 years old! Monticello was beautiful, and Jefferson inventiveness is certainly showcased. Unfortunately, the interpretation of the property is focused mostly on the home, and how the people lived them including Jefferson and his slaves. It is clearly a paradox that the man who wrote the Declaration owned slaves and only freed 5 of them at his death. Sadly, there was nothing in the Museum other than a few mentions in a 15 minute movie to discuss his government service, including Secretary of State, Vice President and President. On a plus note, the cafe had great food!
We made two stops today
First we went to the Michie Tavern, which we did not have time for on Sunday. This is a little complex on the way to Monticello and included a period Tavern, several shops and a restaurant. The kids really enjoyed the Tavern tour which while educational, also had some fun elements including dancing a colonial reel in costume. There is a clothing store that had period style outfits, and we bought items for the kids – my wife found a few items to wear for the 9/12 march and look like Thomas Payne – she’s gonna be a rock star on Saturday in this get up! The restaurant at Michie Tavern has some of the best fried chicken I have had in a long time – its a little pricey for lunch, but seriously worth it!
After lunch we visited James Madison’s home Montpelier about an hour north of Monticello. This has been the highlight of the trip so far! It had been renovated and relaunched in 2008. Its approach is much different than Monticello, focusing on Madison as the “Father of the Constitution.” There is still time spent on how people lived on the property, but the FOCUS is on Madison’s immeasurable contribution to our country.
I had the privilege to have a fantastic tour guide – Don – who truly made history come alive!
As part of the tour you get to go to Madison’s Library, which held over 400o books during his day. Books Madison pored over to identify governments that had worked in history and to understand WHY! On the floor by the fireplace are ink stains. Ink which dripped off of Madison’s desk – the very spot he sat and wrote up the Virginia Plan, which was the driving force for the US Constitution. Chills went up my spine as I imagined Madison sitting in front of me in this small room, wracking his brain to figure out a way to have a sustainable government. How fortunate we are today for having had men like Madison who were both Revolutionaries, but also willing to give serious thought to Governing. At this point during the tour, Don held up a pocket size copy of the Constitution and said that “the genius of this man was to give in so few words the foundation of our government that still lives on over 200 years later. Yet the folks in Washington need 1000 pages for the stimulus recovery bill which only serves to spend money.” Way to go Don! Downstairs you visit the room in which Madison died. An easel contains a placard with his Advice to My Country. The first sentence is the most commonly quoted, but the final sentence is the more powerful, yet oft left out!
“The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is, that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated. Let the open enemy of it be regarded as a Pandora with her box opened, and the disguised one as the serpent creeping with his deadly wiles into paradise.”
There is a small room on the side of the house that is dedicated to explaining Madison’s role in the Constitution as well as his thoughts and comments on other topics.
You MUST visit this home – you will be inspired!
PS: During our tour we ran across two other families also heading the the 9/12 protest march and doing their own version of the Founding Fathers tour! Excellent!
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