James Madison Chess Pieces Uncovered
by Rebecca Dolan
Feb 3rd 2011 02:22 PM
Archaeologists excavating James Madison’s Montpelier estate have unearthed portions of two chess pawns belonging to the founding father.
“The discovery of the pawns is a wonderful example of how Montpelier’s archaeologists and curators are together rediscovering James and Dolley Madison and their plantation,” said Montpelier President Michael C. Quinn in a press release. “Each new discovery and acquisition brings us closer to knowing the Father of the Constitution and the woman who inspired the term ‘First Lady.'”
Montpelier, located in Orange, Va, is the lifelong home of America’s fifth president. It is here that Madison would engage Thomas Jefferson in chess matches, likely using the chess pieces that were uncovered.
The portions of the pawns allowed researchers to understand what James Madison’s chess set looked like, leading them to purchase an identical set from the 18th Century. Following Montpelier’s $25 million dollar restoration, this acquirement is another step in efforts to refurnish the home with items once belonging to Madison, or similar to them.
I have one of those sets.