Author: Hannah Scruggs

a public historian based out of Washington, D.C.

The Enslaved Community at Montpelier

Montpelier, the Orange County family home of James Madison, utilized the labor of enslaved African Americans from its initial founding as Mount Pleasant in 1723 through the end of Madison family ownership in 1844. Enslaved laborers cleared the land for a plantation, built the plantation house, grew food, performed domestic chores, and otherwise provided the labor that made the Madison family wealthy. At any given time, more than 100 enslaved people worked and lived at Montpelier. The enslaved community at Montpelier included not just those enslaved people owned by the Madisons, but also those owned by Madison’s siblings and extended family members, as well as enslaved and free Black people living on and adjacent to neighboring plantations.