Archive for May, 2015

Montpelier & Why Madison Matters

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015


Christian Cotz is the director of education and visitor engagement at James Madison’s Montpelier, and has been with the Foundation for fifteen years. He is responsible for the creation, implementation, and oversight of all Montpelier guided tours, hands-on experiences, student programs, interpretive signage and many exhibits. Listen as Mr. Cotz tells the story of Montpelier and it’s most famous resident, President James Madison.


Mr. Cotz spoke at the Wednesday, May 13, 2015 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at the Senior Center in Charlottesville. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV Vice President John McCauley.

Program Summary

When Christian first came to Montpelier 15 years ago he said, “It was a great big pink house when I started and now it looks a lot better!” First and foremost, Montpelier is a home, and a home to three generations of the Madisons beginning with Grandfather Ambrose in the 1720’s. During this period it was also home to 300 enslaved people. The du Pont family radically altered the property in the 20th century. But it’s more than a home, it’s a place of inspiration where Madison conceived ideas of self-government that would change the course of human history.

The mission of Montpelier is to inspire continuing public engagement of American constitutional self-government by bringing to life the home and contributions of James and Dolly Madison. James, born at Montpelier in 1751, was the fourth president of the United States, father of the Constitution, and architect of the Bill of Rights. And even after all of this and more, Dolly, who was in the White House for 16 years, was probably better known by most Americans than Madison or Jefferson—an incredibly accomplished, admired and sought-after public figure.