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Plantation Management and the Enslaved Community on the Estate of James Madison, Sr

Author(s): Johanna Smith

Year: 2014

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In mid-eighteenth-century Virginia, an ambitious Piedmont planter came into his full inheritance. This planter was James Madison, Sr., the father of the fourth president. Madison shrewdly managed his property and social connections to establish himself and his family as powerful members of the elite of Orange County, Virginia. But these decisions, made to maximize his own prestige and profits, were not made in a vacuum; they would profoundly impact the lives of the enslaved Africans and African Americans who made his plantation profitable. Families and individuals were moved among quarter farms or relocated to work for other members of the Madison family. New moneymaking endeavors were begun that would require the redistribution of labor. To understand the makeup of the enslaved community on this estate, it is crucial to first understand Madison’s plantation management decisions. By using both the archaeological and documentary records, this paper will investigate how Madison’s changes to his plantation created challenges and opportunities for its enslaved community.

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Plantation Management and the Enslaved Community on the Estate of James Madison, Sr. Johanna Smith. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437301)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-73,07

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America