Slave quarters rebuilt at Madison's Montpelier In this Wednesday, April 12, 2017 photo, Jennifer Glass, director of Archeology and Historical Preservation at James Madison's estate, gestures in front of some of the reconstructed slave cabins in the South Yard of the property in Montpelier, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Slave quarters rebuilt at Madison's Montpelier
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The homes of slaves who toiled on President James Madison's estate in Virginia are being rebuilt.
 
Work crews are at Montpelier, the mansion in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The crews are excavating and reconstructing six structures on what's called the South Yard. That is where domestic slaves lived and worked.
 
The slave quarters were cleared away more than 150 years ago and planted over with grass. The reconstruction began in 2015 after a gift from David Rubenstein. He is a Washington philanthropist and history buff.

Rubenstein also gave money to pay for refurnishing parts of the home. It's where Madison drafted ideas that would become the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Rubenstein told The Associated Press that he wanted to help make the estate more authentic.
 
The dwellings, smokehouses and kitchen will be part of Montpelier's new exhibition. It is called The Mere Distinction of Color. It opens in June.
 
Elizabeth Chew is Vice President of Museum Programs. She said the exhibition will be a "new chapter" in terms of how the estate talks and teaches about slavery. There will be a greater emphasis on what life would have been like for the slaves, as well as the legacy of slavery on contemporary society.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why would someone pay for the rebuilding?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (21)
  • dejaunn-
    5/16/2017 - 08:37 a.m.

    it will become a new way to teach about slavery.

  • ethang122998-
    5/16/2017 - 10:11 a.m.

    Three facts from this article are, domestic slaves worked in the south yard. President Madison drafted his ideas for the constitution here. Finally, these slave quarters were cleared away more than 150 years ago.Two questions I have are why were the slave quarters cleared away in the first place? Also, was the president against slavery? An opinion I have is that it is a good idea to rebuild the slave quarters to show our mistakes we have made in the past. For example, slavery.

  • hayleel-ste
    5/16/2017 - 12:26 p.m.

    Why would someone pay for the rebuilding? Because this place i a part of history to some people it could mean a lot while others they could care less. But it is still history and it should be taken care of because once it is gone it will only be a memory.

  • braedonh-kut
    5/16/2017 - 02:19 p.m.

    I don't think that they should rebuild the slave homes because it is a bad part of history that we will be bringing back. Also someone that could have a relative that was a slave or part of this bad time and hey want to forget about it, building these homes back up could result in bad memories or maybe even depression for people.

    • nathanm14-ste
      5/19/2017 - 01:33 p.m.

      If we are not reminded of our history, we are destine to repeat it. Nobody has "relatives" that were slaves, only predecessors which may have lived as a slave. You don't have memories of your ancestors, so nobody is going to become depressed over something that they themselves never faced. And if they do than they're stupid.

    • nathanm14-ste
      5/19/2017 - 01:34 p.m.

      The buildings were rebuilt by a historian who wanted to make the estate more authentic. This shows that even our presidents were guilty of owning slaves.

  • caroliner-kut
    5/16/2017 - 05:02 p.m.

    Until the very end of this article, I was thinking "Why on earth would someone rebuild a place that people who were unfairly treated suffered in?" But now I realize, it is to teach and educate people on this topic and to make them more aware of our past! I think this is a great idea and I think Mr. Rubenstien made the right decision to fund the rebuilding and I hope with this, more people will be able to understand this hard point in time.

  • jacksone-bur
    5/16/2017 - 06:50 p.m.

    Someone? would pay for the rebuilding because it was the home of slaves who toiled on President James Madison's estate in Virginia.I would pay for the rebuild because it is history and you can put it in a museum and let people learn about it

  • kiearad-bur
    5/16/2017 - 09:05 p.m.

    someone would bring it back so the society can get a hands on feel of history.For example, the Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit now that they revived it people can get a hands on feel.

  • cesars-
    5/17/2017 - 08:35 a.m.

    They would pay for the rebuilding because of how old the mansion is and how its worth a lot of money.

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