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Historical Timeline


1729 The Mount Pleasant plantation is established in the Virginia piedmont by Ambrose Madison.

1732 Ambrose Madison dies, allegedly poisoned by three slaves; Frances Taylor Madison assumes ownership of the property.

1749 James Madison Sr. marries Nelly Conway.

1750 James Madison Sr. assumes ownership of the Mount Pleasant estate.

1751 James Madison Jr. is born at Port Conway, Virginia on March 16.

1764 The Montpelier great house is finished.1768 Dolley Payne is born in Guilford County, North Carolina on May 20.

1778 The artist, Joseph Wood is born in New York.

1783 The Todd Family relocates to Philadelphia after freeing their slaves.

1790 Dolley Payne marries Quaker lawyer, John Todd on January 7; Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84.

1791 Mary Todd opens a boarding house to help support her family; the first United States census is conducted; Rhode Island ratifies the Constitution by a 34 to 32 vote; the Bill of Rights is ratified.

1792 John Payne Todd is born in Philadelphia on leap day, February 29; Dolley Payne Todd’s father dies on October 24.

1793 James Madison departs on March 17 from Philadelphia after Congress adjourns;  Dolley Payne Todd gives birth to her second child, William Temple; the first of James Madison’s Helvidius essays are published in the Philadelphia newspapers;  John Todd dies on October 24, the same day as his youngest son William succumbs to the yellow fever epidemic; George Washington seeks James Madison’s advice about the possibility of relocating the government due to the ongoing epidemic in Philadelphia; James Madison returns to Congress in Philadelphia circa December 1.  

1794 Eli Whitney receives a patent for the cotton gin revolutionizing the cultivation of cotton in the south; James Madison meets the widow, Dolley Payne Todd circa June 1; James Madison and Dolley marry at Harewood, the home of Dolley’s sister, Lucy Washington on September 15; the Society of Friends expels Dolley Madison on December 26 for having married outside of the faith.

1795 Dolley Madison and Payne Todd visit Monticello for the first time.

1796 John Adams is elected president; Thomas Jefferson becomes Vice President.

1797 James Madison retires from Congress and returns to Montpelier with Dolley, Payne Todd, and Anna Payne (Dolley’s sister); Jefferson visits Madison at Montpelier; construction begins to transform Montpelier into a duplex.

1798 The Alien and Sedition Acts become law; the Virginia Resolution is passed in Richmond.

1799 James Madison is elected as a delegate to the Virginia General Assembly; George Washington dies at Mount Vernon.

1800 Charles Adams, the son of John and Abigail dies from alcoholism; Madison’s younger brother, Francis, dies.

1801 James Madison, Sr. dies at Montpelier; Thomas Jefferson is inaugurated as the nation’s third president; Madison becomes Secretary of State and moves with Dolley and Payne Todd to Washington, DC.

1803 Louisiana Purchase; the “Merry Affair” disrupts Anglo-American relations; Elizabeth “Betsy” Patterson of Baltimore marries Jerome Bonaparte.

1803-1805 John Payne Todd attends school at the Alexandria Academy in the District of Columbia.

1804 Anna Payne, Dolley’s younger sister, marries Richard Cutts; Alexander Hamilton is shot and killed in a duel with Vice President, Aaron Burr; Payne Todd is extremely ill in July while staying with his parents in Washington, D.C.

1805 Dolley Madison suffers a serious knee injury and is taken to Philadelphia for treatment; James Madison Cutts is born; Payne Todd, age 13, is enrolled at St. Mary’s College in Baltimore on December 1.  

1806 James Madison sends Dolley’s brother, John C. Payne, to Tripoli to serves as a secretary to the America diplomatic representative, George Davis.

1807 Mary Coles Payne, Dolley Madison’s mother, dies.

1809 Payne Todd accompanies the newly elected President, James Madison, to Washington, D.C.; Extensive alterations and construction of a new wing begin at Montpelier.

1811 John C. Payne returns to the United States from his posting in Tripoli.

1811-1812 Phoebe Morris stays with the Madison’s at the White House; Payne Todd is in Washington, D.C. living with his family while on hiatus from school.

1812 Justice Thomas Todd marries Lucy Washington on March 29 at the White House with Payne Todd and Phoebe Morris as members of the wedding party.

1813-1815 Payne Todd serves as a member of the American Peace delegation to Europe with Henry Clay, Albert Gallatin and John Quincy Adams.

1814 The British burn the United States Capitol and the President’s Mansion during the War of 1812.

1816 John Payne Todd presents Thomas Jefferson with a gift of a travel thermometer; Jefferson reciprocates giving Todd two Turkish pistols with 20-inch barrels.

1817 Joseph Wood paints portraits of President and Mrs. Madison in Washington, D.C.; Wood also creates a miniature of John Payne Todd; James Madison retires to Montpelier after two terms as president.

1818 Payne Todd purchases Toddsberth in Orange County for $540.

1820  Todd visits Phoebe Morris for four days at Bolton Farm; the Missouri Compromise is passed.

1825 Phoebe Morris dies at her home at Bolton Farm.

1826 Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die on July 4, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

1829 Andrew Jackson is inaugurated as president; Nelly Conway Madison, James Madison’s mother, dies at Montpelier on February 11 at age 98; Payne Todd is imprisoned for the first time due to outstanding debt.

1830 Payne Todd is imprisoned a second time at the Prune Street prison in Philadelphia; Todd is released on July 4 and returns to Montpelier.

1831 William Lloyd Garrison begins publication of the abolitionist newspaper, the Liberator; President James Monroe dies on July 4; Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion in Southampton, Virginia, killing over 50 whites.

1832 Anna Payne Cutts, Dolley’s beloved younger sister, dies.

1835 Alexis de Tocqueville publishers Democracy in America.

1836 James Madison dies on June 28 at his Montpelier home.

1837 Dolley Madison moves temporarily to Washington, DC.

1840 Payne Todd charters the Montpelier Marble Company

1841 A spring fire destroys the main house at Toddsberth; former Governor James Barbour dies at his home in Orange County.

1844 Dolley Madison is forced to sell the Montpelier estate; the House of Representatives honors the former first lady with a seat in Congress.

1848 The United States Congress finally agrees to purchase the papers of James Madison for $25,000; Photographer, Mathew Brady, successful convinces Dolley Madison to sits for a daguerreotype portrait.

1849 Dolley Madison dies in Washington, D.C. on July 12 at the age of 81.

1850 Annie Payne marries Dr. James H. Causten on April 9; President Zachary Taylor dies in office, his remains are placed temporarily in the Public Vault at Congressional Cemetery; the Compromise of 1850 is passed by Congress as signed by the new president, Millard Fillmore; Payne Todd is assaulted and robbed in Washington, D.C.

1852 At the age of 59, John Payne Todd dies at his residence on Pennsylvania Avenue and is buried at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.; Dolley Madison’s remains are transferred to the Causten vault; Annie Payne Causten dies on November 9 at age 33 and is interred alongside her aunt.

1854 Toddsberth is sold to William C. Scott.

1858 Dolley Madison’s body is return to Montpelier on January 12 for burial besides her husband’s remains.

1862 Lt. John Hampden Chamberlayne visits Toddsberth and records his impressions.

1901 The duPont family purchases Montpelier.

1928 Montpelier is inherited by Marian duPont Scott.

1937 A photo of the ballroom at Toddsberth appears in a Fredericksburg newspaper.

1956 The Dolley Madison daguerreotypes are discovered in Pennsylvania.

1987 The old Toddsberth property is purchased by William Crum at a foreclosure sale.

2003 The Montpelier Foundation begins the process of deconstruction the manor house to return it to its Madison era appearance.

2009 The restored Montpelier opens to the public.