FAQs

How tall was James Madison and how
much did he weigh?

Did James and Dolley Madison have any pets?

Did Dolley Madison really save Washington's
portrait from the British?


Why are the Madison items in the museum's
collection and not at Montpelier?


How tall was James Madison and how much did he weigh?

Descriptions for James Madison's height vary from 5'2" to 5'6". The better the person giving the description liked Madison, the taller they tended to say he was. He was said to weigh 100 pounds only if he had a hat full of rocks. Dolley Madison was approximately the same height as her husband but her turbans with high feathers made her appear taller. | Back to top |


Did James and Dolley Madison have any pets?

Yes. They each had a pet.

James Madison had his horse Liberty. Dolley Madison's niece Mary Cutts gave the following description of Liberty, "Liberty" which had grown old in his service, was petted, fed and stalled alone; he well deserved his name; not a gate which he could not open--nor, any outrage which cattle could commit was not, by the [slaves], ascribed to "Liberty." Mr. Madison in his humorous way often repeated these amusing and generally false tales of his disused horse, but never curtailed his freedom.

Dolley Madison had Polly, (also from Mary Cutts) "a large Macaw--it was a splendid bird and seemed happy and proud when it spread its wings and screamed out French phrases, which it had been taught by John Sioussa. It was very fond of Mr. and Mrs. Madison, but the terror of visitors. "Polly is coming!" was the mode of frightening the children of the household as some of those little ones, now grown, can tell! She was very old, and her career was recently brought to an end by a night hawk, which pounced upon her, when, one night by the carelessness of servants she was not brought to her perch in the hall." | Back to top |

Did Dolley Madison really save Washington's portrait from the British?

According to Madison's slave and personal valet, Paul Jennings, she did not. According to Jennings, "It has often been stated in print, that when Mrs. Madison escaped from the White House, she cut out from the frame the large portrait of Washington (now in one of the parlors there), and carried it off. This is totally false. She had no time for doing it. It would have required a ladder to get it down. All she carried off was the silver in her reticule, as the British were thought to be but a few squares off, and were expected every moment. John Suse' [Jean-Pierre Sioussat] ( a Frenchman, then door-keeper, and still living) and Magraw, the President's gardener, took it down and sent it off on a wagon, with some large silver urns and such other valuables as could be hastily got hold of."| Back to top |

Why are the Madison items in the museum's collection and not at Montpelier?

The James Madison Museum predates Montpelier being opened to the public. By the time Montpelier opened to the public, the museum already had an impressive collection of Madison items. The donors of the items felt that the museum remained the proper place for the items as they help the museum provide an introduction to Montpelier and the Madisons.
| Back to top |


| Home | Contacts | News | Awards | FAQs |

I am typing so I can create a custom












































The James Madison Museum is owned and operated by The James Madison Memorial Foundation. Copyright 2004.
All rights reserved.

Member of Museums of the World

Welcome to our
Online Gift Shop.


Our goal is to provide
you quality products
and give you the
opportunity to
support the Museum
and its activities.

Online Bookstore >

Music & Software >

Shirts, Mugs, Mousepads & More>