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Three Friends: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe

Program Number: 9113RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/8/2015 - 11/11/2015; 4/10/2016 - 4/13/2016; 4/29/2016 - 5/2/2016; 5/13/2016 - 5/16/2016; 5/22/2016 - 5/25/2016; 5/26/2016 - 5/29/2016; 6/12/2016 - 6/15/2016; 8/21/2016 - 8/24/2016; 9/9/2016 - 9/12/2016; 9/25/2016 - 9/28/2016; 10/16/2016 - 10/19/2016; 11/13/2016 - 11/16/2016;
Duration: 3 nights
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Price starting at: $599.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture
Meals: 8; 3 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Fat; Low Salt    

Explore the friendship among three U.S. presidents — Jefferson, Madison, Monroe — as you journey back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the time when these great men lived, worked, laughed and loved. Learn about their personal stories and the historic events that drew them together, explore their views on contemporary issues such as religion, government and slavery, and delve into the lasting contributions each made to our nation.


• Visit the historic homes of these American patriarchs — Jefferson's Monticello, Monroe's Ash Lawn-Highland and Madison's Montpelier.
• Investigate the connection between Jefferson's educational vision and design of his university while strolling the grounds with an expert.
• Enjoy an evening of music from the period in which these men lived, and meet one of them in an interactive living-history presentation.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; some uneven terrain and stairs.

You may enjoy a five-night version of this program, "Friends, Neighbors, Presidents: The World of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe" (#2007).

Date Specific Information

11-8-2015, 4-29-2016, 5-13-2016, 6-12-2016, 8-21-2016, 9-9-2016, 10-16-2016

Modest, charming inn with traditional British decor.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

4-10-2016, 5-22-2016, 9-25-2016, 11-13-2016

Full-service modern hotel, set amid the beauty and history of Virginia’s Blue Ridge foothills.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


A modern-day college town with a historic legacy, Charlottesville claims President Thomas Jefferson among its famous native sons. Monticello, Jefferson’s unique home, is one of many historic buildings in and around this vibrant community.

Varies by date and includes a new, modern hotel, centrally located amid the beauty and history of Virginia’s Blue Ridge foothills, or a charming, modest Inn with traditional British decor.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Elizabeth Taylor

During her 22-year career in museum education and historical research, Beth Taylor served as the director of interpretation at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and director of education at James Madison's Montpelier. She is now a Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Beth's first book, "A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons," was a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Award nominee. Beth holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Jim Wootton

Jim Wootton served as curator and assistant director of Ash Lawn-Highland, home of President James Monroe, where he collaborated with the museum staff in research, planning, and interpretation for more than 20 years. In 2000, Jim became executive director of the Capitol Square Preservation Council, which reviews projects that affect the State Capitol and the historic buildings and landscape of Capitol Square. Jim has appeared in films and documentaries and authored numerous articles and publications, including a biography of Elizabeth Kortright Monroe. Now retired, he has lectured with Road Scholar for over 10 years.
Meals and Lodgings
   English Inn
  Charlottesville 3 nights
 English Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located in the beautiful and historic Piedmont region of Virginia at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville offers a variety of activities and attractions, all located conveniently near the English Inn. In addition to the sites included in the program, there are additional historical homes, museums, and venues within easy driving distance. Browse through the shops in historic downtown, tour the local vineyards, or take a short trip to the Skyline Drive, famous for its fall splendor and breathtaking vistas.
  Contact info: 2000 Morton Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903 USA
phone: 800-786-5400
  Room amenities: Rooms appointed with two queen beds or one king, dresser and a wide desk. In-room coffee-maker, refrigerator, microwave, iron, ironing board, hair dryer, alarm clock, air conditioning, cable TV with HBO, telephone with voice mail, and computer data port (Internet high speed access).
  Facility amenities: Relax amid the warmth and charm of traditional British decor. Enjoy a bountiful, buffet breakfast every morning and tea and cookies in the afternoon. Indoor pool, sauna and workout room, adjacent to Rivanna Greenbelt Trail. The hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle from 7:00am-7:00pm, but reservations are needed. The shuttle can also pick up at the train and bus stations. Conveniently located only one mile from UVA campus. Enjoy the nearby fitness center, Gold's Gym, free with your room key. Elevators are available to upper floors. Daily USA Today newspaper available Monday-Friday from the front desk. Guest Business Office open 24 hours with fax machine available. Safe deposit boxes available.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $75 plus tax, limited rooms The English Inn can usually provide lodging before or after your program at the discounted Road Scholar rate. This rate is not always available, especially on football weekends in the fall.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $75 plus tax, limited rooms The English Inn can usually provide lodging before or after your program at the discounted Road Scholar rate. This rate is not always available, especially on football weekends in the fall.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:00 pm Program Registration, 3:00pm Room Check In, 5:15pm Program Begins. You will be staying at English Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends mid-morning with time to check-out and make independent arrangements for lunch before trip home. You will be staying at English Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
The hotel has free parking.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Charlottesville
  Nearest highway: I-64
  Nearest airport:  Charlottesville/Albemarle Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Charlottesville
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO)


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
English Inn Shuttle
phone: 800-786-5400
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes depending on traffic 




8 miles


Shuttle provided by the hotel free of charge between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. You should call the hotel ahead of time to let them know you plan to use the shuttle (this is not a reservation, just giving the hotel a heads-up). Once you get to the airport, you should go to the contact information board in the baggage claim area to get the pick-up number for the English Inn. A van will be sent as soon as possible after you call.


Charlottesville Greyhound/Amtrak Station


From Bus Terminal




Yellow Cab
phone: 434-295-4131
Advanced Reservations Required


Travel Time:


15 minutes 


Station serves both Amtrak train service and Greyhound Bus service. For train information, call 800-872-7245. For bus information, call 800-231-2222. In addition to taxis, the hotel shuttle is available from the station. Call the hotel in advance for information on how to schedule pick-up

Driving Directions
  From Richmond/East of Richmond From Richmond/East of Richmond: Take I-64 WEST toward Charlottesville. Take exit #118B, just west of Charlottesville. This will be the RT. 29/250 Bypass. Follow the Bypass to the Emmet Street exit (about 4 miles). At the bottom of the ramp, immediately cross two lanes of traffic and get in the far left lane. Turn LEFT onto Morton Drive. The English Inn is behind Bodo’s Bagels. Although slightly longer than exiting I-64 east of Charlottesville, this route avoids traffic congestion, numerous stoplights, and major road construction.
  From Roanoke and West From 81, take I-64 East to Exit 118-B. This will be the 250 Bypass. Follow the Route 250 Bypass to the Emmet Street exit (about 4 miles). At the bottom of the exit, cross two lanes of traffic and get in the far left lane. Turn LEFT onto Morton Drive. The English Inn is behind Bodo’s Bagels.
  From Washington DC/Northern Virginia Take 66 WEST to Gainesville. Exit on 29 SOUTH towards Charlottesville, go about 70 miles before reaching the outskirts of Charlottesville. Upon reaching “local” traffic, go about five miles. You will go under the route 250 bypass and take your first LEFT. The English Inn is on Morton Drive behind Bodo’s Bagels.
Equipment Requirements: This program includes a good deal of walking and standing over extended periods of time. Read through the itinerary closely to make sure you are comfortable with the level of activity.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/Orientation/Introduction to Three Presidents
(Sunday, November 8)
 Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00 p.m.

Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table from 4:00-5:00 pm to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have.

Indicated times are approximate; program activities and schedules may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will often be available during free time to accompany informal excursions, activities, or meals that have been excluded from the program cost. You are welcome to join if you like, with any associated costs on your own.
 Dinner: In the pleasant ambience of the Windsor Room, enjoy a buffet meal that offers an entrée, side dishes, and beverage choices including coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: With our local expert, get a lively and detailed introduction to three Presidents from Virginia: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Learn fascinating details of their public and private lives as well as their friendships and their world. Explore the activities and contributions of the “Founding Fathers” to America from the colonial era through the Revolutionary War and development of the young republic from the Constitution to the Monroe Doctrine.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Society to Our Taste /UVA/ Monticello/Insights into Monroe
(Monday, November 9)

Note: The field trip to UVA includes an extended walk on the Grounds which are terraced with steps between levels. Participants who do not want to negotiate the steps can explore the top terrace around the Rotunda until the walk concludes. Monticello is on the top of a steep hill, reached by a trolley ride. The house is accessible, but parts of the grounds are steep and/or reached only by long stairs. Participants can select those areas where they will be comfortable during the independent time.

 Breakfast: In the Windsor Room, the breakfast buffet typically includes selections such as scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage links, pancakes or French toast, grits, hot cinnamon apples, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, English muffins, bagels, cereals, fruit, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
 Morning: In a presentation titled “A Society to Our Taste,” gain perspectives on the social order and lifestyles of Virginia’s landed gentry including our three Presidents. Learn about life on plantations and estates far from the colonial hub of Williamsburg, Jefferson’s conceptions of the ideal society, and how he encouraged and supported his friends in joining that rare circle.

We will also have an illustrated overview of the University of Virginia (UVA).

Next we embark via motorcoach on a field trip to UVA, founded by Jefferson in 1819. He considered the creation of this “academical village” one of his greatest achievements. Led by an expert, we’ll walk through the Grounds to observe the impressive Rotunda and the Lawn, both designed by Jefferson. See Jefferson's vision of higher education as it unfolds in the layout of the classroom and residential buildings, student housing on the Lawn and Ranges, still in use today. Take in the gardens, serpentine wall, and pavilions, all part of Jefferson's design and a model for university design throughout the country.

At the conclusion of our exploration, we take our motorcoach to Monticello.
 Lunch: At the Café at Monticello, we will have box lunches including a sandwich, fruit salad, potato or pasta salad, a brownie, and water. You may sit indoors or outdoors (weather permitting) with views of the surrounding forest.
 Afternoon: If you knew nothing else about Jefferson and then visited Monticello, you would recognize the man as a genius. The house and gardens were designed, redesigned, built, and rebuilt over more than 40 years. Today, it is considered an “autobiographical masterpiece.” Led by an expert, we will have a guided exploration, walking through this exceptional mansion where you see the architecture he favored and some of the many innovative contrivances he devised. The furnishings, art, books, gadgets, and objects such as the 7-day clock and the alcove bed reveal Jefferson's unique and inquiring mind. It is astonishing to comprehend that one man conceived all of this. Leaving the house, you will have free time to walk through the extensive kitchen and ornamental gardens, and the Jefferson family cemetery where you see what he had carved onto his memorial stone.
 Dinner: In the Windsor Room.
 Evening: We’ll have an in-depth look at our fifth president, James Monroe. While he may be the least well-known of the early Virginia presidents, he had a long career of public service that began when he left the College of William and Mary to serve under Washington in the American Revolution. We’ll examine Monroe’s time as a member of the Virginia legislature and the U. S. Senate and his terms as Virginia governor. We’ll review his Presidency and the issues he faced in addition to the Monroe Doctrine, then wonder at the strange coincidence of his dying on the Fourth of July, five years to the day after the passing of two other founding giants, Jefferson and John Adams.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Plantation Life/Montpelier/Ashlawn-Highland/Period Music
(Tuesday, November 10)

Note: Considerable walking and standing; the round-trip walk between the Visitor Center and Montpelier mansion is about 2/3 mile on a sloping pebble path (no shuttle). The second floor is reachable only by stairs; alternate exhibits on first floor. Education Center provides an alternative for those preferring something less physically demanding. The Ashlawn-Highland visit includes a multi-level house with short flights of stairs which can be avoided by going outside and reentering on the lower level.

 Breakfast: In the Windsor Room.
 Morning: Before our field trip this morning, we will examine the self-contained world of plantation life where a few lived in comfort supported by the many who labored in the fields and homes under the yoke of slavery. To separate fact from fiction, romanticized mythology from reality, our expert speaker will discuss issues such as family life, education, leisure, and other aspects of the parallel cultures on the plantation. We will also gain a sense of the contrasts between this elaborate and complicated lifestyle and the much simpler homesteads maintained by the vast majority of early American farmers.

Next our motorcoach will transport us to Montpelier, home of James and Dolly Madison. Our visit includes a special presentation, "Introduction to the House and Grounds"; guided walk through the mansion that has recently been restored to its appearance at the time it was occupied by the Madisons; free time for a self-guided exploration of Education Center, grounds and new Visitor Center. The home was owned for over 120 years by the Madison family and you will learn of the three stages of construction during their tenure as well as the various renovations completed by succeeding owners, including the famous DuPont family. The restoration of the house itself took place from 2003-2008 and efforts are now underway to furnish it to reflect its occupation by James and Dolley Madison after his retirement from the Presidency.
 Lunch: Eat a delicious box lunch, including sandwich, water, fruit, chips, and cookie, in the Visitor Center’s Courtyard Café adjacent to the DuPont Gallery.
 Afternoon: After lunch we will drive through the Piedmont countryside to Ashlawn-Highland, home of James Monroe. This small, homey dwelling is an interesting contrast to the stately mansions of Monroe's friends and neighbors. Discover how the house has evolved through the centuries with different owners. Explore the elegantly furnished rooms of this "cabin-castle", including the study and children's room added during the tenure of the Monroes from 1799-1828. Stroll the grounds to see the gardens, reconstructed slave quarters, and original Overseer's Cottage while taking in the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains
 Dinner: At a popular pub-themed restaurant a short walk from the hotel, enjoy a choice of home-style entrées with dessert and non-alcoholic beverages; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: After dinner, delight in a lively performance titled "Violins and Fiddles". A talented musician will not only demonstrate the differing personalities of this single instrument, but will provide an informative commentary on music of the eighteenth century.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Silent Voices: Women, Slaves, Free Blacks/Meet Col. Monroe
(Wednesday, November 11)

Note: The program concludes with two engaging presentations at the hotel for a restful ending before you head home.

 Breakfast: Breakfast will again be buffet style in the Windsor Room
 Morning: We have libraries full of information on the Founding Fathers, but society could not have functioned without those about whom early American history is largely silent. Learn about women whose support was crucial to the social structure, slaves whose muscle and sinew built an agrarian society, and free people of color who struggled to establish their place in a new nation that had declared “all men are created equal.”

Rounding out our experience, meet “Colonel Monroe” himself. Engage in a unique conversation with a knowledgeable and talented historical interpreter who provides first-person interaction with James Monroe. This concludes our program.

We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Charlottesville Historic Charlottesville
Your program will be filled with lectures, field trips, and other activities, so free time will be very limited, especially in this short Road Scholar program. Consider staying an extra day or two before or after the program to explore all that the Charlottesville area has to offer, including vineyards, museums, downtown historic district, nearby historical sites, and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Historical sites often have special programs on the weekends that you could enjoy by arriving early. Check their websites for calendars of events. Visit our web site for ideas and links.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons

Author: Taylor, Elizabeth Dowling

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West.

Author: Ambrose, Stephen E.

James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity

Author: Ammon, Harry

In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson.

Author: Cunningham, Noble.

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

Author: Ellis, Joseph J

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Author: Ellis, Joseph J.

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy.

Author: Gordon-Reed, Annette

The Evolution of the Constitution of the United States of America and History of the Monroe Doctrine

Author: Kasson, John A.

James Madison: A Biography

Author: Ketcham, Ralph

Jefferson and Monticello: Biography of a Builder

Author: McLaughlin, Jack

American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia

Author: Morgan, Edmund S

. Thomas Jefferson: Writings: Autobiography/Notes of the State of Virginia/Public and Private Papers/Addresses/Letters.

Author: Peterson, Merrill

James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic.

Author: Rakove, Jack

James Madison: Writings.

Author: Rakove, Jack

The Political Philosophy of James Madison

Author: Sheldon, Garrett Ward.

The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

Author: Smith, James M

Slavery at Monticello.

Author: Stanton, Lucia

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