Updated 2/27/12

It’s our 50th podcast!!  Thanks so much for all your support!  In this special video Brad is back with us and we start out with a visit to the 4th grade students at V.L. Murray Elementary School in Charlottesville.  Then we head over to Montpelier, home of the 4th president of the United States and the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison.  Explore the grounds of this amazing plantation, see a life sized statue of him and his wife Dolley, find out which of his slaves helped save a portrait of George Washington from a fire at the White House, discover an old train station from the days of segregation, learn about how freed slaves lived, and take a look at a Civil War camp.  Come on, let’s go trekkin’!

James Madison was the shortest and lightest president.  He was 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighed just under 100 pounds.  He was also rather shy and soft-spoken.  He was sometimes teased with nicknames like “Little Jemmy” and “His Little Majesty.”   Washington Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle called him “a withered little apple-John.” (Source) But he made up for his shortcomings by improving his mind through education and marrying a woman who was his opposite.  Dolley Madison was very outgoing and often held parties at the White House.  In fact, she began several traditions which continue to this day.  She held the first Inaugural Ball (which is a formal dance that takes place when a new president is elected).  She also held the first Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.  Alfonso showed you the telegraph in the video, but did you know that Dolley Madison was the first person to send a personal message by telegraph?  After Samuel Morse sent the message, “What hath God wrought?” (Numbers 23:23) with his new invention in 1844, he asked Dolley if she’d like to send a message.  She wrote to a cousin in Baltimore:  "Message from Mrs. Madison. She sends her love to Mrs. Wethered."

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Piedmont Region

SOL Correlation:

2.3 The student will identify and compare changes in community life over time in terms of buildings, jobs, transportation, and population.


VS.2b The student will demonstrate knowledge of the physical geography and native peoples, past and present, of Virginia by locating and describing Virginia’s Coastal Plain (Tidewater), Piedmont, Blue Ridge Mountains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau.


VS.4 The student will demonstrate knowledge of life in the Virginia colony by

a) explaining the importance of agriculture and its influence on the institution of slavery.

e) describing everyday life in colonial Virginia.


VS.6 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the role of Virginia in the establishment of the new American nation by

a) explaining why George Washington is called the “Father of Our Country” and James Madison is called the “Father of the Constitution.”

c) explaining the influence of geography on the migration of Virginians into western territories.


VS.7c The student will demonstrate knowledge of the issues that divided our nation and led to the Civil War by describing the roles played by whites, enslaved African Americans, free African Americans, and American Indians.


VS.8b The student will demonstrate knowledge of the reconstruction of Virginia following the Civil War by identifying the effects of segregation and “Jim Crow” on life in Virginia for whites, African Americans, and American Indians.

...poor Jemmy, he is but a withered little apple-John