Thursday, April 6, 2017


The Road Scholar ( ) program I attended recently in Charlottesville, Virginia, included a tour of the home of the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, which President Monroe simply called "Highland" ( ).  As you can see on the sign, it is now a property operated by The College of William & Mary, which was the alma mater of James Monroe.  The photo below shows the mature ash trees that line the driveway leading up to the house, which is probably one reason that the estate is sometimes called Ash Lawn/Highland. 

Highland is considered a working farm, and as such, there is a flock of sheep in the pastures adjacent to the home.
A historical highway marker gives a brief history , indicating that in 1793, James and Elizabeth Kortright Monroe purchased 1,000 acres adjoining Jefferson's Monticello.  At its largest, Highland grew to 3,500 acres.  The home served as the principle residence for the Monroes from 1799-1823. 
Most American history students know that James Monroe was the last of America's Founding Fathers, when he served as our fifth president (1817-1825), but they may not know that he also served as Governor of Virginia, and rose to prominence as a diplomat in France, when he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  (The Louisiana Purchases included my home state of Arkansas, so I am filled with joy that he did this!)  The statue of Madison that is in the boxwood gardens is by Attilio Piccirilli.  ( Piccirilli is also famous as being the sculptor for the Lincoln statue, for the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C.)
Since Ash Lawn/Highland is owned by the College of William and Mary, some buildings have been added that can accommodate groups for conferences, weddings, and other special events.  Behind the main house, there are cabins, a smoke house, an ice house, and other structures needed to keep the farm operational. 
Inside the cabin, there are displays of objects that would have been found in a household of that period. 
The property has a 300 year old oak tree on it, which could tell some fine stories if it could talk!  Our guide pointed out that the oak tree in this photo has a lightning rod on it, which was invented by another famous American, Benjamin Franklin. 
Our guide told us that the portrait of James Madison in this photo was painted by Samuel Morse.  This is the same Samuel Morse, that invented the famous dot and dash code, we now call "The Morse Code". 
I learned that the only foreign capitol named after a U.S. President is Monrovia, in Liberia, on the continent of Africa.  Although Monroe had 30-40 slaves under his ownership, he supported the founding of colonies in Africa for freed slaves, that would eventually become the nation of Liberia.  In 1823, he announced the U.S. opposition to any European intervention in the recently independent countries of the Americas, with the Monroe Doctrine, which became a landmark in American Foreign Policy.
Although her exact size is not known, one of the formal dresses saved from the wardrobe of Mrs. Monroe (Elizabeth Kortright Monroe) indicated she was a very petite woman.  Records also indicate that due to her fragile health, many of the duties of official hostess were assumed by their eldest daughter, Elza Monroe Hay. 
The expansive views around Highland showcase the rolling hills and mountain ranges,  visible on the horizon.  Perhaps President Monroe was admiring God's creation when he said, "If we persevere...we cannot fail, under the favor of a gracious Providence.  My fervent prayers to the Almighty that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which he has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor." 
In my mind, that is another way of saying Psalm 126:3, so I am using these images as my visual aid for learning my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verse that says, "The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."  I truly am filled with joy, as I learn about our country's early history, and God's blessing of allowing me to be born here.  This gives me "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia