"A Brother of Craft"
James Monroe's Ties to Freemasonry
[NOTE: This article is adapted from remarks presented by Scott H. Harris, Executive Director of UMW Museums, at a Memorial Day program in the Fredericksburg Masonic Cemetery on May 26, 2018.]
On November 6, 1775, at Williamsburg Lodge No. 6, in what was then the capital city of Virginia, a 17-year-old student at the College of William and Mary was "recommended as a fit person to be admitted a member of this lodge and the motion recorded.” Three days later, November 9, 1775, the petitioner was "preferred, received and balloted for; passed and accepted and entered an apprentice.” [i]
The “fit person” in question was James Monroe, who at age 17 was younger than the prescribed age of 21 that later became standard practice for entry into Freemasonry. The fact that respect and acceptance by the fraternity of Masons was accorded to the young James Monroe is typical of the extraordinary times in which he lived, and the qualities evident in him so early in life.

Descendants of James and Elizabeth Monroe
In celebration of the 260th anniversary of James Monroe's birth, the James Monroe Museum had the pleasure of hosting a reunion of descendants of James and Elizabeth Monroe.

The families had the opportunity to dine with James and Elizabeth Monroe, along with Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw, and Delegate Bob Thomas. They also joined in the birthday celebration at the museum with cake and music! It was a pleasure to meet descendants of the Monroe family!
Curator's Corner
This month’s Curator’s Corner features a pair of circa 1810 creamware candlesticks owned by James Monroe. The candlesticks were made in the Wedgwood pottery factory in Staffordshire, England. Renowned for its neoclassical designs, the factory was founded by Josiah Wedgwood in 1759 and became associated with cream-colored earthenware. Royal patronage by Britain’s Queen Consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, led to the products being called “Queen’s Ware."
Wedgwood is part of a vast collective of English pottery manufactories in the county of Staffordshire known as the Staffordshire Potteries. Centered on large deposits of viable clay, the potteries are located in six towns - Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton. In the mid-18th century, the introduction of calcined flint to local clays produced a creamware that became part of the area’s distinctive style.  Later innovations such as ironstone and pearlware added to the growing repertoire, and with the 1840s arrival of railroad transport networking to coastal export towns, Staffordshire became one of the largest exporters of tableware and other production ceramics. Many of the Staffordshire potteries became household names such as Aynsley and Wedgwood. 

Wedgwood produced ceramics in simple, yet elegant patterns which appealed to American buyers such as James Monroe. Given the date and Monroe’s taste for neoclassicism, it is likely the candlesticks were used in the White House. 

Come see the Wedgwood candlesticks currently on display in our exhibit “Dynamic Ceramics, Selections from the James Monroe Museum Collection.”

American Evolution
American Evolution™ commemorates the 400th anniversary of key historical events that occurred in Virginia in 1619 that continue to influence America today. Featured events, programs and legacy projects inspire local, national and international engagement through the themes of democracy, diversity and opportunity.

The year 1619 was a pivotal year in the establishment of the first permanent English Colony in North America. It was the year of the first representative legislative assembly in the New World, the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America, the recruitment of English Women in significant numbers, the first official English Thanksgiving in North America, and the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the Virginia colony.

The James Monroe Museum is proud to be featured on the American Evolution Virginia History Trails app! The app is a great way to explore Virginia history. It features 20 trails and 400 stories. Use the app to find your way through the trails, each representing an important part of Virginia and American history.
Upcoming Programs
Friday, June 8, 6:00-8:00 PM
* Second Friday - History Trivia Night
Location: James Monroe Museum

Join us for The James Monroe Museum’s History Trivia Night featuring Celebrity Quizmaster Sara Poore, President and CEO of the Fredericksburg Area Museum .
History Trivia Night features three rounds of questions, with each round focused on different historical topics (not limited to presidential trivia). Bring your own team, join one at the program, or be your own one person team!

Admission, participation, and snacks are free. There will be a cash bar and a 50/50 raffle.

*Please note that due to a University of Mary Washington event, this program is on the second Friday of the month.

Mark your calendar for our First Friday Sketchy History and History Trivia Nights all summer long!

Saturday, June 30, 2:00-5:00 PM
Elizabeth Monroe's 250th Birthday
Location: James Monroe Museum

Join Mrs. Monroe in the garden for cake and music in celebration of the 250th anniversary of her birth! Ann a Deitel, with Our Historic Life, will offer instruction in the cards games Whist and King's Corners, followed by time to play each game in small groups! This is a free, family-friendly event.

If you were unable to attend our Monroe Conversations: First Ladies program on May 16, you can still enjoy the fascinating conversation on our YouTube channel! Our thanks to Heidi Stello and Katherine Spivey for their thoughtful interpretations of Elizabeth Monroe and Dolley Madison!

What's In Store?
Presidential Placemats $4.95
Laminated and in full color, these 11” x 17” placemats portray the chief executives of our country in numerical order from George Washington to Donald Trump.

United States Presidents and First Ladies Placemats
The front side portrays all of the presidents of the United States and the dates they served. The opposite side features the first ladies, the dates they served, and their relationship to the president (not all first ladies were presidential spouses). The featured photos are, of course, those of our favorite First Couple, James and Elizabeth Monroe!

United States Presidents and Vice Presidents Placemats
The front side portrays all of the presidents of the United States and the dates they served. The opposite side features all the vice-presidents and the dates they served.
A few facts found on the placemats:
  • James Monroe was the 5th president, but his vice president, Daniel Tompkins, was the 6th vice president.
  • Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president, had two first ladies. His daughter assumed the role of first lady upon her mother’s death.
  • Grover Cleveland is the only president who served non-consecutive terms.
  • Mary McElroy was the 21st first lady. She was the sister of Chester A. Arthur.
  • James is the most common presidential first name. Can you name all six who shared the name?
  • John is in second place with five, followed by William with four. Can you name them?

We look forward to seeing you in the James Monroe Museum Store. Stop by soon for more fun history!
Museum Rentals

Were you aware that the museum garden is available to rent for small gatherings such as rehearsal dinners, anniversary parties, family reunions, and even small weddings? You can find out more about renting the space here .
Summer Bowley Scholar
The James Monroe Museum is happy to welcome our summer semester Bowley Scholar, Lakelyn Wiley! She is from Winchester, Virginia and is a graduating history major at the University of Mary Washington. Lakelyn has always had a passion for history and would like to work in the public history field following graduation. She is interested in nineteenth-century America, World War I, the Ottoman Empire, and the Cold War. Her senior thesis focus is on the Colonization of African American Freedmen to Liberia and the American Colonization Society (which we here at JMM look forward to reading). Lakelyn enjoys running, listening to true crime and history podcasts, reading, volunteering for adventure tails at the SPCA, and traveling.

She is excited for life post-grad and honing the skills she acquires from her time down in the archives at the James Monroe Museum!
Museum Hours

The tent is back in our garden, so bring along a lunch when you're visiting the museum and enjoy it in a tranquil setting! The James Monroe Museum is open Monday-Saturday 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, and Sundays 1:00-5:00 PM. Come on by!

The James Monroe Museum
908 Charles St.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401