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 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, The Mere Distinction of Color, which opens in June.
 
Vice President of Museum Programs Elizabeth Chew said the exhibition will be a "new chapter" in terms of how the estate talks and teaches about slavery, with 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?
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COMMENTS (3)
  • etomia-bur
    5/16/2017 - 09:15 a.m.

    To show people how it really felt to be a slave in one of those slave houses.



    I like this idea because now they can show us this experience.

  • jadiell-ver
    5/19/2017 - 09:00 a.m.

    It's good that they're rebuilding it so people can know how slavery was like back in the day, but it's also scary to think about how slavery was and the reason the slave headquarters was was destroyed for.

  • emilyb2-bur
    5/23/2017 - 07:39 p.m.

    Someone would pay for the rebuilding because they want the other people in the world to know that slaves didn't have it all easy like most do now and that it was hard living and working everyday. The slaves would have different stories that many people don't honor .The people in this world don't put themselves in the slave's shoes so they don't really care well at least some don't . I think it's good to build the place a slave was growing up or rebuild because then maybe people will have empathy for them.

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