We went to James Monroe’s house, Ash Lawn-Highland, over the Christmas holidays. It’s in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is very close to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s house, and Montpelier, James Madison’s house. Monroe, Madison, and Jefferson were not only neighbors, they were good friends. Monroe seems to have gotten the worst of it among the three, as he never really had much money, and his house wasn’t all that great. Still, he was the president, so they have the place open to the public.

My favorite part of the tour was when we visited the part of the house Madison himself built. The floor was so crooked you could hardly stand up straight. I guess he was a better politician than a builder. Everybody has to be good at something. He did give us the Monroe Doctrine, which basically promised Europeans we would stay out of their hair and warned them to stay out of ours. It served us well for quite a long time. He also worked out the Lousiana Purchase when he was Secretary of State. Not a bad legacy there. So, I can forgive him for having a lousy house. He gave a lot of service and didn’t get much of this world’s goods in return.

Still, his statue is in pretty bad shape.

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