The overheated, dimly lit Red Room during the secret swearing in of Rutherford B. Brandus finds underreported or neglected angles that bring new light and perspective to these stories. The White House has expanded as the country has, gained workspace as the government grew, and embraced technology as the nation did. Rutherford B. Hayes installed the first telephone and for a time the phone number was simply the number 1.
It now includes the West Wing, the East Wing, and the Executive Residence, with the latter having six stories if you include the basement. Every renovation from the rebuild after it was burned in to the building of the West Wing and the remodeling under Theodore Roosevelt, Truman and then Kennedy had a larger cultural and political significance.
However, in each, the White House is almost a character come to life, and each reveals something important about the man at the helm and the growing nation that put him there.
Ford Evening Book Talk: Paul Brandus · George Washington's Mount Vernon
He is also a Washington columnist for The Week and moderates panels for the magazine in Washington and around the U. An innovator in social media, Brandus's Twitter account WestWingReport is the second biggest among all accredited members of the White House press corps. Senate staffer. He lives in Reston, Virginia. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Even in this time of relentless coverage of the President's every move, we can forget that he and his advisers are human, with a life filled with smaller personal moments that lead up to the big public ones.
Imagine Nixon in the East Room, worrying what would happen if the moon mission fails, or McKinley in the map room knowing he will soon start a war he doesn't want to fight. The events that shaped America have usually started or ended at Pennsylvania Avenue, often with the White House becoming part of the story. Some of those narratives peaked in the Oval Office, but more often the most interesting moment occurred in some quieter, domestic event like Edith Wilson running the country from the Master Bedroom, or Obama nervously playing spades in the Private Dining Room before heading down to the Situation Room on the night Osama bin Laden was killed.
These stories will tell not just the history of the event, but will detail, with as much detail as possible, the particular room in which the event occurred. The stories also mirror, in chronological fashion, the growth of America itself. The White House has expanded as the country has, gained workspace as the government grew, embraced technology as the nation did, and mirrors the dynamism of the United States itself.
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You don't have to live in the past to learn from it, unless you count the hours spent at these and dozens of other presidential sites where we become immersed in a country that has never become but, like Jefferson's Monticello, is always in the act of becoming. Ford, Jr. Car No. The George Washington Birthplace National Monument preserves much of the character of the 18th century tobacco plantation where Washington lived until he was about four.
The birthplace house no longer stands, but its foundations have been discovered and preserved. His half-brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather lie in the family burial ground nearby. In , an English merchant ship sailed up the Potomac River, anchored in Mattox Creek, and took on a cargo of tobacco. With her new load, the ship ran aground on a shoal and sank. During the delay, a young officer, John Washington, grandfather of the future president, befriended the family of Colonel Nathaniel Pope, especially his daughter Anne.
When the ship was ready to set sail John stayed behind to marry Anne, thus beginning the Washington family legacy in the New World. John Washington eventually expanded his land holdings to 10, acres. Augustine found a small house on the Popes Creek property and began expanding it into a middle-sized plantation manor house.
It was here that George Washington, the first son of his second marriage, was born on February 22, This is where young George lived until , when his father moved the family to his Little Hunting Creek Plantation, the land that would eventually be renamed Mount Vernon. In , the family moved again, to Ferry Farm near Fredericksburg. They served as justices on the county courts, militia officers, sheriffs, vestrymen in the local Anglican Church, and members of the Virginia House of Burgesses. When Augustine Washington died in , the bulk of his estate went to the two sons of his first marriage.
George Washington frequently returned to Popes Creek throughout his adolescence to learn practical farming and to assist with the responsibilities of running the plantation. William named the property Wakefield and owned the house until it burned down on Christmas Day, He saved the only item thought to have come from the original house, a tilt-top tea table.
It is now on display in the Memorial House. The family never rebuilt the birthplace house, and its exact location was lost. In June , George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted grandson of George Washington, placed a commemorative stone by the ruins of a chimney thought to mark the birthplace.
Five years after the Civil War, a visitor to Wakefield observed that the freestone slab that George Washington Parke Custis placed over the presumed birth site was missing. In the s, Congress donated a foot obelisk and erected it on a brick foundation on the recently discovered site of what people thought were the remains of the birth house. On February 23, , Mrs. After relocating the memorial shaft, the association built the Memorial House over the foundation found in the s. Constructed between and , and not intended to be a replica of the birth house, of which no images survived, Memorial House represents instead a typical house of the upper classes of the mid s.
It is probably a bit more elegant than the original. Charged with administering the site since , the National Park Service conducted archeological investigations that revealed a second, larger foundation not far away from the Memorial House. Excavations confirmed that this was the actual location of the birth house.
The outline of the foundation is now marked with crushed oyster shells. The excavations of the main house and a number of outbuildings also provided thousands of artifacts, including ceramics, jewelry, glass, and clay pipes. These artifacts have been invaluable in telling the story of the site, in furnishing and interpreting the Memorial House, and in the reconstruction of the working colonial farm. Today, the monument includes the historic birthplace area, the burial ground, and the working colonial farm. Livestock, poultry, and crops of traditional varieties and breeds are raised on the farm to show farming techniques common during colonial times.
A colonial herb and flower garden is also included on the grounds. It is open daily am to pm year round. An entrance fee is charged for adults ages 16 and older. The property includes a one-mile nature trail and picnic area with tables, grills, pavilion, and restrooms. The Potomac River beach offers views of the river and Maryland, walking, sunbathing, and fishing; however, swimming is not allowed. Mount Vernon , Virginia Mount Vernon plantation was not only the beloved home of George Washington, the first president of the United States, but also the source of much of his wealth and the mark of his status as a leading member of the Virginia planter elite.
He lived here for over 40 years, happily returning home whenever his life of public service permitted. Between , when he moved to Mount Vernon with his bride, Martha, and his death in , he expanded the plantation from 2, acres to 8, and the house from six rooms to The house, with its long, two-story piazza overlooking the Potomac River, is one of the most instantly recognizable, and most copied, buildings in America.
Under the leadership of Ann Pamela Cunningham, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association purchased Mount Vernon from the Washington family in , restored the house in the country's first successful nationwide preservation effort, and opened the estate to the public in Today meticulously restored to its appearance in , the mansion preserves the legacy of this great American.
Three rooms are on either side of the wide central hall on the first floor. The front parlor, music room, and the grand two-story large dining room are located north of the center hall. The grounds remain largely as Washington intended, an appropriate setting for a member of the plantation elite.
Pleasure grounds, gardens, and broad vistas extend from the Potomac River west to the original entrance road. The smokehouse, workshops, stables, and other restored outbuildings, where slaves did much of the work of the estate, sit on a line north and south of the house, close enough for convenience but nearly invisible. Other portions of the estate present the plantation as a living-history pioneer farm. The tomb of George and Martha Washington lies to the south of the mansion. Two modern facilities help tell the story of the real George Washington to visitors.
Reynolds Museum and Education Center include galleries and theaters, interactive displays, and over artifacts. In , John Washington, the great-grandfather of George, obtained the land along the Potomac where Mount Vernon lies. From about until , Augustine and his family, including young George, resided there on what was then known as Hunting Creek Plantation. In , Augustine deeded the estate to his eldest son, Lawrence, George's half-brother, who renamed the plantation Mount Vernon after Admiral Vernon, under whom he had served in the Caribbean.
George spent part of his youth at the estate with Lawrence, who had married into the powerful Fairfax family and became a mentor to his young half-brother. It was here that George absorbed the planter ideals of honor and ambition. Honor demanded demonstrations of merit before the whole community, speaking in public, training militias, giving generously to those below him, and showing his good taste through his personal appearance, his polite manners, and the design of his plantation.
Ambition was a virtue. Fame and glory showed character and benefited both the man and the greater society. It was these values that Washington first pursued and then came to embody. Its refusal precipitated the French and Indian War. His subsequent years of military service earned George Washington high rank and respect as a military leader. In , George leased the property, then over 2, acres, from Lawrence's widow and upon her death in , George inherited it. From to , Washington rebuilt the modest one and one half-story house at Mount Vernon into an impressive two and one half-story mansion and extensively redecorated the interior.
In , Washington retired from the army and married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow and mother of two children. Their combined property placed the couple high in the Tidewater planter aristocracy. Between and , he occupied most of his time becoming one of the largest landowners and richest and most innovative planters in Virginia. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses for part of that time, becoming increasingly dissatisfied with British colonial policies. Toward the end of this period, he began to enlarge the house, adding a new wing on the south, beginning work on a north wing, and remodeling the interior.
Selected as one of the Virginia representatives to the Continental Congress, George Washington left for Philadelphia in Congress appointed him as commander in chief of the Continental Army the following year. Although his military experience was limited, he had the intelligence, courage, and determination to avoid defeat long enough to turn his ragtag Continental Army into a force capable of meeting and defeating professional British troops on the open field.
On August 19, , Washington marched south with his army to assist the French fleet against the British under Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. The surrender of Cornwallis on October 19 ended the war. By this time, America recognized Washington as its first military hero, but in December , he resigned his commission. By renouncing power at a time when he probably could have been crowned king, he became internationally famous and set the first of many precedents for the new nation. Beveled pine blocks covered with paint mixed with sand, giving the appearance of stone, replaced the simple frame exterior.
In the summer of , he traveled to Philadelphia, where he served as president of the Constitutional Convention. He departed once more when the Electoral College created by the newly adopted Federal Constitution elected him president in its first and only unanimous vote. Because the Federal Government was located in New York and Philadelphia throughout his presidency, he was able to return to Mount Vernon only about twice a year.
Always aware of the effects of his actions, he established precedent after precedent for the presidency as an institution. His second term was troubled by the international tensions created by the war between England and revolutionary France and by growing partisanship within his own administration. His support for the strict neutrality advocated by Hamilton kept the new United States out of war, but led to the resignation of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Washington hated political partisanship, but the differences between Hamilton and Jefferson soon sparked creation of the first two political parties, Federalist and Republican.
In , Washington declined a third term, setting a precedent left unbroken until and now permanent in the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. He retired to his home at Mount Vernon in and died there two years later at the age of His wife lived there until she passed away in It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file: text and photos. Mount Vernon offers a wide array of activities for visitors. For more information visit the Mount Vernon website or call It is open daily year-round according to the following schedule: April-August, am to pm; March, September, and October, am to pm; and November-February, am to pm.
An admission fee is charged. Seasonal half-hour narrated boat tours along the Potomac River depart from the Mount Vernon dock; there is a separate charge for the boat tours. Planned to connect Washington, DC, the capital city whose location he had selected, to Mount Vernon and the Great Falls of the Potomac River, the parkway passes over the same land Washington frequently traveled on horseback. The last section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway opened in after many delays.
With views of the broad Potomac to the south and the rugged Potomac Palisades to the north, the parkway provides a scenic entryway for visitors to the nation's capital. The first automobile tourists arrived at Mount Vernon in , and by the mid s, sightseers congested the hazardous, poorly maintained roads. Billboards, gas stations, and other unsightly developments detracted from the drive. Planning for a highway "of noble proportion," linking the capital with Mount Vernon began as early as , with the chartering of the Mount Vernon Avenue Association.
Colonel Peter Hains of the United States Army Corps of Engineers surveyed a number of possible routes and described his vision in a report to Congress, "It is to commemorate the virtues of the grandest character in American history It should have the character of a monumental structure, such as would comport with the dignity of this great nation in such an undertaking, and the grandeur of character of the man to whom it is dedicated. Charged with its design and completion, the Bureau of Public Roads began building the highway in Well-known landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
Moore II, and Gilmore D. The parkway was to include the earlier Memorial Highway and extend it to Great Falls creating a long regional park on both sides of the Potomac. Beginning in the s, the Great Falls of the Potomac were a popular tourist attraction. In the s, stone quarrying and plans for hydroelectric dams threatened to destroy the natural beauty of the Great Falls and Potomac Palisades.
Cramton lobbied for the preservation of this unique natural and historical landscape, and aroused public sentiment by linking saving the area to the awe-inspiring name of George Washington. He saw the Potomac River as a future channel of commerce connecting the Eastern Seaboard to the lands west of the Allegheny Mountains and uniting the nation through improved trade and transportation. The most serious obstacle to making the Potomac navigable was the Great Falls. In , Washington convinced the assemblies of Virginia and Maryland, which bordered the river, to establish a company to improve navigation on the Potomac between its headwaters near Cumberland, Maryland and tidewater at Georgetown.
Organized in , the Patowmack Company had directors and subscribers from both States; George Washington was president and presided over the project until he went to New York to accept the office of president. The greatest engineering challenge was the construction of a canal and locks on the Virginia side of the river to bypass the Great Falls, where the Potomac drops nearly 80 feet in less than a mile.
Hired hands, indentured servants, and slaves blasted the southern end of the narrow canal through high rocky cliffs by using only black powder creating an engineering marvel of the day. Although George Washington did not live to see the canal completed, he often visited the project to inspect its progress. Many boats used the canal to bypass the falls, but it was never profitable and was abandoned in Building George Washington Memorial Parkway was a technical challenge.
Chronic shortages of money slowed construction, which lasted off and on for almost 40 years. Most of the parkway on the Virginia side of the river opened in , the final section in Conservationists, who opposed highway construction in scenic or historic locations, ultimately prevented the planned extension of the parkway to Great Falls. In Virginia, construction ended at the Washington Beltway. On the Maryland side, the parkway was partially completed between Chain Bridge and Carderock, just north of the Beltway.
The Maryland parkway had its name changed in honor of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, whose home now a unit of the National Park System, is located nearby. The historic and natural resources of the area would likely not have survived without the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Colonial-style signs and memorial trees and tablets mark numerous places to see, enhancing its roles as scenic drive and commemorative highway. There is much to see and do along the parkway. In addition to the places associated with George Washington, a wide range of natural areas and memorials, such as the bronze Iwo Jima statue and the monuments that line the approach to the Arlington Cemetery are along the parkway.
For a complete list click here. Click here for the National Register of Historic Places file: text and photos. The parkway is accessible from all major travel routes from the south and west of Washington, including I, I, and I Click here for a map the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The sleek marble-clad Washington Monument, a major engineering feat at its completion, honors his achievements and unselfish devotion to public duty.
Plans for honoring Washington predate his presidency. In , the Continental Congress resolved to erect an equestrian statue in the new national capital, even before selecting a site for the city.
The Society held a competition in to find a design worthy of honoring the national hero. They considered several before selecting architect Robert Mills' design. On July 4, , an elaborate cornerstone-laying ceremony took place, attended by President James K. Polk and other dignitaries, among whom were Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, both members of the House of Representatives and future presidents themselves.
The grand monument took 36 years to complete, delayed by politics, financing, and civil war. The colonnade was to house statues of Revolutionary War heroes and to be topped with a statue of Washington in a chariot.
The Know-Nothings retained control of the society until While in control, the Know-Nothings added just a few courses of masonry to the monument using inferior marble, which were later removed. Construction halted in when the monument was at a height of feet and the money ran out. It did not resume until after the Civil War.
The monument remained unfinished for more than 20 years. Today a distinct color difference is still visible near the level at which construction temporarily stopped in the s. Grant approved legislation to complete the project, helping to gain public support. With adequate funding and a new design by Lt. Colonel Thomas Casey, of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the monument was completed within five years with the installation of the 3,pound marble capstone in December A dedication ceremony occurred February 21, The famous unadorned obelisk Casey designed is the monument of today.
The new monument was extremely popular. Over 10, people climbed the steps to the observation level in the first six months after its dedication. With the construction of the elevator for passenger use, the number of visitors soared. In fiscal year , an average of 10, people a month went to the top. The 50 American flags encircling the base of the monument represent the 50 States. A unique feature of the Washington Monument is the memorial stones installed on its east and west interior walls. Starting in July , the Washington National Monument Society invited States, cities, and patriotic societies to contribute memorial stones to build the monument.
The society required that the stones be durable, quarried in the United States, and of the appropriate size necessary for construction. Due to issues of resource protection and visitor safety, the public receives limited access to the memorial stones, but can view several of them while riding the elevator. Photographs of the memorial stones can be seen in the online photo gallery on the National Park Service Washington Monument website.
The closest Metro stop is Smithsonian station. The Washington Monument is closed for repairs due to an earthquake on August 23, For more information visit the National Park Service Washington Monument website or call To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places homepage. Distinguished in public service and in literary pursuits, four generations of the Adams family left its stamp on the history of the United States and on this site. Set on 13 acres in Quincy, Massachusetts, the park includes the birthplaces of both President Adams.
John Quincy Adams spent most of his adult life abroad or in Washington, but returned to the family home whenever he could. The house probably consisted of two rooms on each floor, arranged on either side of a massive central chimney. John Adams was born in the east bedchamber in He lived here until , when he married Abigail Smith and moved 75 feet away to the house where his son, John Quincy, would be born three years later. John Quincy Adams Birthplace John Adams inherited this 17th-century saltbox house, which is remarkably similar to his own birthplace next door, in Here he and his young wife started their family and the future second president launched his career in politics and law.
This document, still in use today, influenced the United States Constitution. John Quincy Adams was born in an upstairs bedchamber in and spent his childhood here. John Adams spent most of the period between and away from home, but his family continued to live in this house. In , John Quincy Adams purchased his birthplace from his father and lived there from until , when he moved to Boston. Both houses contain authentic 18th and 19th-century furnishings, although except for a few pieces they are not original items. Adams immediately began to expand the house.
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He hoped to settle down here as a farmer, but his many public duties kept him from carrying out that plan until the end of his presidential term of office. During that time, his wife continued to enlarge the house and managed the farm. John Adams lived here year-round from until his death in Like his father, he continued to expand and modernize the building. The house that John Adams bought consisted of a seven bay, two-story building facing the street with a kitchen ell in the back.
In , he almost doubled the size of the house by building a two and one-half story, L-shaped addition on the east end. The style of the wing is Georgian, to harmonize with the original building. John Quincy Adams renovated the house and added a wing connecting the addition to the kitchen ell. The present house also incorporates additions and renovations made by Charles Francis Adams.
Furnished with a remarkable collection of furniture and decorative items, the house remains as it did when the family departed in Much of the china, pottery, glassware, paintings, and some pieces of furniture reflect the diplomatic background of John, John Quincy, and Charles Francis Adams who each returned with prized possessions from their various European missions. The property includes a woodshed, duck pond, orchard, and 18th-century garden dating from the days of John Adams.
Stone Library John Quincy Adams requested in his will a fireproof building, separate from the house, for his books and papers. Located just to the northwest of the Old House at the edge of a formal garden, the stone library holds over 14, volumes. The granite and brick library is a single one-story room with a slated gable roof. The Medieval style, a departure from the Colonial style of the first two generations, reflects the elegant tastes of the third generation and the first of many alterations to the surrounding grounds.
Floor to ceiling oak bookcases line the interior walls. Natural light comes from a skylight and French doors on the south, west, and north walls. A giant among the Founding Fathers, John Adams was one of the leaders of the movement for independence. He was on the committee responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence and steered it through the Continental Congress. During the Revolution, he served the nation as a diplomat, helping to negotiate the peace treaty that ended the war.
Elected vice president in , he found the position frustrating. He won the vote to succeed Washington as president by only a narrow margin and soon had to deal with the international tensions created by the French Revolution, tensions which soon split his Federalist Party. One of his greatest achievements was keeping the young United States out of a declared war with France while protecting American shipping rights on the high seas. His accomplishments include obtaining Florida from Spain and working with his president James Monroe to formulate the Monroe Doctrine.
During his single term as president, John Quincy Adams sought to bolster domestic business by proposing federally funded roads and canals and protective tariffs. He was an abolitionist and defender of Indian rights, and frequently opposed States rights. Adams realized few of his initiatives, because most Americans favored minimal government at that time. Defeated by Andrew Jackson in , Adams went home to Massachusetts, but a year later, his district elected him to the House of Representatives, where he served for 18 years.
He was an outspoken opponent of the expansion of slavery and supporter of the constitutional right of the people to petition the government on that question. The park is open from April 19th to November 10th. During this time, the park is open daily from am to pm. An entrance fee includes guided tours of the Presidential Birthplaces unit and the Old House unit, and travel between them and the Visitor Center by trolley bus. Tours last approximately two hours and depart regularly from the Visitor Center. The last tour leaves at pm daily. It is also an architectural masterpiece.
Jefferson, a true Renaissance man, was a giant among the Founding Fathers. His deeply-rooted disputes with Alexander Hamilton created the two-party system in the United States and launched two competing visions of what the United States should be that dominated 19th-century politics and still survive today. He was also a complex man, made up of penetrating intelligence, insatiable curiosity, high ideals, and deep contradictions. The political theorist who saw the small-scale farmer as the bedrock of American democracy was himself the owner of many thousands of acres of land and a proud member of the Virginia plantation aristocracy.
In , Jefferson began building his house on the plantation that he inherited from his father, Peter Jefferson. He located it on top of a hill he explored as a child. The main house was still not finished two years later. When he married Martha W. Skelton in , he brought her to the South Pavilion, his bachelor quarters, because the house was not yet habitable. The newlyweds arrived on horseback during a blizzard. The original eight-room house was apparently still incomplete in the s, but even so impressed European visitors with the sophistication of its design.
At this stage, Jefferson knew architecture only through books, and his house closely followed the designs of Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio. His pamphlet, A Summary View of the Rights of British America , written at Monticello and published in , demonstrated his knowledge of the law and his ability to write clearly. By the time Virginia sent him to the Second Continental Congress two years later, everyone recognized him as a fluent writer and superb legal draftsman. The committee appointed to draft a declaration of independence in June selected him to write it. He submitted his last draft on July 2.
Two days later, Congress adopted the final version of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson served as governor of Virginia from to During this time, he drafted the important Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, although it did not become law until Driven from his home by the British and heavily criticized during his last year in office, he decided to abandon politics and retire to Monticello. The death of his wife in changed his plans.
Although he lost his wife at a young age long before residing in the White House, Thomas Jefferson never remarried. They had six children, but only two survived to adulthood. Returning to politics, he served briefly in Congress under the Articles of Confederation, where he laid the foundations for the Northwest Ordinance of that established the framework for westward expansion. In , he went to France as a member of a trade commission. A year later, he succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France. He thrived on the Enlightenment principles he encountered in France and was smitten with the new Neoclassical architecture that he saw.
When Jefferson returned to America in , George Washington asked him to serve as his secretary of state. He held that position until , when he resigned after a series of bitter disputes with Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury. Hamilton generally distrusted the common man and favored a strong federal government that would encourage the development of industry in the new nation. Jefferson, on the other hand, had an abiding faith in the ability of the people to govern themselves and saw no need for a strong central government.
His vision of America was of an agrarian nation of educated small farmers. The Constitution made no provision for political parties, but the new Federalist Party soon coalesced around Hamilton and his allies. Jefferson was at the heart of the Democratic-Republican Party. In the election of , Jefferson finished second to John Adams, the Federalist candidate. Under the Constitution at that time, Jefferson became vice president, although the fact that the two men were from different parties guaranteed conflict.
In , Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr, received the same number of electoral votes, throwing the decision into the House of Representatives, which finally chose Jefferson in February The two confused elections led in to the adoption of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which corrected the problems by providing for separate voting for vice president.
Many Federalists feared the onset of mob rule in America after Jefferson's election in , but this first transition from one political party to another passed smoothly. Jefferson immediately dispatched Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the new territory and to continue to the Pacific Coast.
Easily re-elected in , Jefferson had to deal with the effects of the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and France. The Federalists tended to support the English, while the Democratic-Republicans generally leaned towards the French. In , Jefferson sought to avoid war by instituting an embargo prohibiting Americans from trading with both nations.
The embargo turned out to do more damage to American traders than it did to the British and the French. It was so unpopular that Jefferson wisely decided not to run for president again in At the end of his term, he happily retired to Monticello. By , Jefferson finished the rebuilding of Monticello begun in He transformed the original eight room Palladian villa, with its tall two-story portico, into a room house designed in the fashionable Neoclassical style he saw in France.
The front elevation was a deceptively low horizontal composition centered on a pavilion dominated by a columned portico and a low dome. The renovation kept most of the rooms of the original house, but more than doubled its depth. By moving the front wall forward, Jefferson provided space for two new rooms on either side of a much larger two-story entrance hall. The house lay at the center of a U-shaped plan that embraced two sunken, terrace-covered service wings set into the hillside.
House slaves could do their work in these wings out of sight of the public rooms. Small temple-like pavilions sit at the ends of the wings. Jefferson, an avid horticulturist, also created the gardens at Monticello, which were a botanic showpiece, a source of food, and an experimental laboratory of ornamental and useful plants from around the world.
He experimented with plant species brought over from Europe and was particularly interested in developing vineyards. Jefferson spent most of his retirement at Monticello writing and pursuing his political interests. Jefferson died on July 4, , exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and only a few hours before his old friend and rival, John Adams.
His tomb is in the family cemetery at Monticello. Uriah Levy, a wealthy naval officer who revered Jefferson, bought the neglected property three years later. He renovated the house and apparently kept it and the grounds in good condition until his death in He again restored the decaying house, opening it to the public. He also enlarged the estate to about 2, acres. The Foundation has meticulously restored the house, grounds, and working plantation landscape to their appearance when Jefferson lived there. Visitors can gain a unique insight into the life and character of this multi-faceted man.
Monticello is on Va. Route 53 near the intersection of I 64 and Va. The house and grounds are open daily, March-October from am to 5pm; and November-February from am to pm, except for Christmas. Entry is permitted until the posted closing time. The grounds are closed approximately one hour later. There is an admission fee. A variety of tours and activities are offered. For more information visit the Monticello website or call It was a retreat and the purest of his Neoclassical architectural masterpieces.
He visited the house in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains as often as four times a year, frequently staying as long as a month. Its elegant geometrical design and unusual, somewhat impractical plan embodied the abstract forms that architects of the Neoclassical loved.
Poplar Forest, set in its carefully planned landscape, was a personal architectural creation and the place where Jefferson found rest and leisure and enjoyed private time with his family. Thomas Jefferson long dreamed of a quiet retreat where he could get away from the pressures of public life. His long and distinguished political career kept him from realizing his dream until late in his presidency. Jefferson acquired the 4,acre plantation at Poplar Forest through his marriage to Martha Wayles Skelton in During the Revolution when the British drove him from Monticello in June , he escaped with his family to Poplar Forest, staying in the only dwelling on the property, the overseer's house.
Jefferson spent his time— in what was undoubtedly a cramped and noisy setting —computing how long it would take to pay the national debt. According to tradition, it was then that he began to realize the advantages of building a more tranquil place for himself. Thomas Jefferson designed and built this architecturally notable house between and Octagons fascinated him. Poplar Forest was one of his many octagonal designs and the only octagonal house actually built. The one-story brick residence is set on a high basement. The front and rear elevations are strictly symmetrical and feature Classical porticoes with pediments and four Tuscan columns.
On the interior, four elongated octagonal rooms surround a central chamber illuminated by a large skylight. This central space is a perfect cube, measuring 20 feet in all directions. Jefferson liked octagonal rooms in part because they allowed for more light, especially important in a time prior to electricity. The abstract symmetry of the house extended to the landscape as well. Two artificial mounds on either side of the sunken lawn behind the house served as ornamental elements and screened identical octagonal privies.
The villas of Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio, influenced the design, with the mounds replacing pavilions. Approximately 94 slaves worked on the plantation. Letters and documents, as well as excavations of the slave quarters scattered about the property, provide glimpses into their lives. Slaves at Poplar Forest performed a variety of jobs, including fieldwork, road building, livestock tending, brick-making, blacksmithing, woodworking, carpentry, masonry construction, weaving, and spinning, as well as service in the house.
Jefferson kept to a regimented daily schedule for most of his life, and the time he spent at Poplar Forest was no exception. An early riser, he spent the mornings riding, reading, or writing. He maintained a library of more than 1, books in many languages. When his family accompanied him to Poplar Forest, they dined early and read or strolled about the gardens in the evenings. Jefferson loved spending time with his grandchildren. In , a fire destroyed the roof and interior, leaving only the basic shapes of the rooms, four chimneys, and the portico columns.
Later families modified Jefferson's villa retreat into a home more suitable to their needs.
Organized in , the Corporation for Jefferson's Poplar Forest bought the house and 50 acres of land in The restoration work on this National Historic Landmark is extraordinary. Jefferson designed and built his retreat solely to suit his "fancy," and ongoing restoration and archeology efforts give unique insight into his life and creativity. Poplar Forest is located on Rte. Poplar Forest is open for tours and special events, seven days a week March 15 through December Tours of the house are offered from am to pm each day.
Poplar Forest is closed on Thanksgiving Day. For more information visit the Poplar Forest website or call Jefferson truly was a Renaissance man. He spent much time studying the natural sciences, ethnology, archaeology, agriculture, and meteorology. As American minister to France, he developed a love for the beauties of Classical architecture, as evidenced by two of his famous creations, Monticello and the University of Virginia.
He almost single-handedly introduced the Neoclassical style to this country. It is entirely appropriate that the memorial built in his honor should be based on the Pantheon in Rome, which he loved. Jefferson made his chief contributions to the history of the United States in the realm of political theory. Jefferson was a life-long advocate for government as the servant of the people, for religious freedom and the separation of Church and State, and for education for all. His statement in an letter to his friend Benjamin Rush, engraved on the frieze encircling the interior of the memorial, captures the essence of his political philosophy:.
They both would be on land reclaimed from the Potomac River. One was to lie at the west end of a line beginning at the Capitol and passing through the Washington Monument. The second would be at the end of a line extending south from the White House.
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Completed in , the Lincoln Memorial occupied the first location. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial eventually occupied the second. The commission considered a number of locations before selecting the present one next to the Tidal Basin. In , the commission selected John Russell Pope as the architect for the memorial. His original design called for a huge building and the transformation of the Tidal Basin into a series of reflecting pools, rectangular terraces, and formal rows of trees.
The design was controversial. Eggers and David P. Higgins took over the project. President Franklin D. Work began that year and continued through World War II. Roosevelt dedicated the completed memorial. The design of the shallow dome clearly refers to the dome of the Pantheon. The 54 Ionic columns surrounding the building permit a clear view of the interior from all four sides. A portico with eight Ionic columns forms the main entrance.
An Adolph A. Weinman sculptural group in the pediment shows Jefferson and his colleagues presenting their draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress. Rudulph Evans' bronze statue of Jefferson dominates the white marble interior of the memorial. It shows Jefferson in midlife, wearing a waistcoat, knee breeches, and a long, fur-collared coat. In his left hand, he holds what is believed to be the Declaration of Independence. At the dedication in , the statue was made of plaster.
The bronze version had to wait until wartime restrictions on the use of metals ended. The statue is 19 feet in height and stands on a 6-foot pedestal of black Minnesota granite. Four quotation blocks drawn from several of Jefferson's writings, in addition to the personal credo quoted above, adorn the interior of the memorial and illustrate some of the principles to which he dedicated his life.
The quotation on the southwest wall comes from the Declaration of Independence. A statement on the evolution of law and the Constitution, taken from an letter to Samuel Kercheval, is on the southeast wall. The northeast panel contains selections dealing with the evils of slavery and the need for education, taken from his Summary View of the Rights of British America of , his Notes on the State of Virginia, and s letters to George Wythe and George Washington.
On the northwest wall stands the fourth panel, expressing Jefferson's commitment to freedom of religion. This quotation is from his Statute for Religious Freedom, adopted by Virginia in , with the last sentence coming from a letter to James Madison. Click here for the National Register of Historic Places file: text. The monument is free and open to the public 24 hours a day. Park rangers are on duty to answer questions from am to pm daily. Madison was a brilliant political philosopher and pragmatic politician. As president, his efforts to keep the peace between Britain and the new nation were unsuccessful.
James Madison was born in in King George County, Virginia, where his mother was visiting her family. They soon returned home to Montpelier, which had been in the Madison family since James Madison's father probably had the earliest part of the present house built in the s. At the time, it was the largest brick dwelling in Orange County, reflecting the family's high status in the community. The original two-story brick house consisted of two rooms on either side of a central hall.
Although Madison always considered Montpelier his home, he was often absent. His active participation in State and national politics began at the time of the American Revolution. He helped frame the Virginia Constitution in , served in the Continental Congress, and was a leader in the Virginia Assembly. Madison was instrumental in the calling of the Constitutional Convention of , where he served on key committees and was a tireless advocate of a strong central government.
His Virginia plan was the model for much of the Constitution. He also played a critical role in shepherding the document through the Continental Congress. From to , Madison along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote a series of essays that were a major contribution to the ratification of the Constitution. Later published in book form as The Federalist , the essays continue to be studied as classics in political theory.
In later years, however, when people called him the "Father of the Constitution," Madison always protested that the document was not "the off-spring of a single brain," but "the work of many heads and many hands. As a member of the United States House of Representatives from to , Madison helped frame and pass the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the new Constitution. During these years, he lived in Philadelphia, then the capital. He met and married Dolley Payne Todd there in In , they returned to Montpelier where they lived with his parents.
Between and , Madison added a new matching wing to the north end of the house. The two-story, side-hall plan addition provided a separate household for James and his wife, including a dining room and chamber downstairs and two chambers upstairs. His parents continued to live in the old house. Probably with advice from his friend, Thomas Jefferson, James added a large two story front portico of four Tuscan columns under a Classical pediment.
The portico unified the two-part house and gave it its visual focus.
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Seven years later, he was elected to succeed his friend and mentor as president. During his first term, Madison was enmeshed in the difficulties stemming from the Napoleonic Wars and trade relations with Britain and France. Madison asked Congress to declare war on June 1, Not prepared for war, the young nation took a severe trouncing. The British captured Washington, burned the White House, Capitol, and other public buildings, and forced the government to flee the city. The war ended in a stalemate with the signing of the inconclusive Treaty of Ghent in A few notable victories, climaxed by General Andrew Jackson's triumph at New Orleans, convinced most Americans that the War of was gloriously successful, resulting in an upsurge of nationalism.
When Madison retired from office in , he returned to Montpelier. Exterior changes added a new central main entrance and harmonized the details of the two parts of the main house. Interior spaces were substantially reconfigured. Madison continued to be involved in public affairs during his 19 year retirement.
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