Happy Birthday, James Monroe!

The weather is so lovely this time of year, we often try to take advantage and squeeze in some educational trips. On Friday, we did a special trip out to Highland, the home of James Monroe, in Charlottesville, VA. (We love having the flexibility to do amazing trips like this! Yay for homeschooling!)

James_Monroe_02James Monroe was our 5th president. He would have turned 259 yesterday!  (He was born April 28, 1758.)

Monroe’s home was located about a mile from Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello.  They were close friends.

We did the tour of the house, which was *fabulous.* Our guide was wonderful… his stories really engaged the kids (and the adults too!)

For example, Monroe served as minister to France under Thomas Jefferson. He was there as violence continued due to the French Revolution. (Monroe arrived in France in July 1794, four days after Robespierre was killed by guillotine.)

While he and his family were in France, Monroe enrolled his daughter in a school. She became best friend’s with Napoleon’s daughter.

Monroe purchased some porcelain which had belonged to Marie Antoinette which we saw there at Highland. (King Louis XVI of France was killed in Jan. 1793; Marie Antoinette was killed by guillotine in October 1793. Monroe was in France a year or so later and purchased some of her monogrammed pieces.)

Highland-James-MonroeTo celebrate Monroe’s birthday, we had lunch “with James Monroe.” While we ate, “Monroe” told us about his life… and we all got to share a bit of his birthday cake!!

Lunch-With-James-MonroeWe learned so much about Monroe while we were there:

  • He was enrolled at William and Mary college at the age of 16, but dropped out at the age of 17 and joined the Continental Army.
  • He took part when Washington crossed the Delaware, but was wounded in the shoulder.  He almost died. They managed to stop the bleeding, but did not remove the bullet. He lived with the bullet in his shoulder after that.
  • In the famous painting below, James Monroe is pictured holding the flag (though the flag hadn’t been created yet and Monroe had crossed the Delaware earlier than Washington, himself)

Washington Crossing the Delaware

  • Monroe served as ambassador to France twice. He was governor of Virginia.
  • President Jefferson appointed Monroe as special envoy to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans. Monroe and the American minister to France, Robert R. Livingston, succeeded in buying all of the Louisiana Territory!
  • He served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War under James Madison. This was when the British attacked Washington D.C. and burned down the Capitol and the White House (during the War of 1812).
  • James Monroe ran for president in 1816 and served two terms.
  • While he was president, the Missouri Compromise was passed.
  • He is also known for the Monroe Doctrine: the Americas should be free from future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries’ affairs.

We also did the archaeology program during our visit.  Our guide explained that in the past few years, they have been doing archaeological research there at Highlands.

For example, they dug down in front of the area they had (up until then) presumed to be Monroe’s home and realized that there had actually been another structure that had burned down. They have now found the foundations of the home where Monroe actually lived.

They showed examples of some of the artifacts they’ve found… from nails and belt buckles, to a doll’s hand, pottery shards and bits of glass.  They then gave the kids artifacts and had them try to determine what they were looking at.

Highland James MonroeThe kids really enjoyed trying some of the old-time games.  In the picture below, DD has just wacked the ball (you can see it against the yellow house) while ED is just about to try rolling the hoop.

Oldtime-GamesIt was a great trip… all of our guides were fabulous. If you get a chance, it’s definitely worth it!

Remember too that Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home is nearby (just a mile or so away). We had made a trip there a couple of years ago (you can see more about Monticello and Manassas Battlefield Park at this post.) Here are a few pictures of Monticello:


What a fabulous homeschool day!! 🙂


Here are links to some other trips we’ve taken over the years:



Washington Crossing





That’s about it for today!

See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :)

Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl

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