(March 10)  Both James Madison ‘s Montpelier estate and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns it, have experienced what appear to be odd, precipitous shake-ups. Meanwhile, another National Trust property, Oatlands in Leesburg, Virginia, has filed suit against the organization and against a number of its board members individually.

All of this comes in the wake of a well-publicized takeover of Montpelier by left-wing activists who say they are acting in the name of descendants of Montpelier’s former slaves, even though they are at odds with the most prominent group of proven descendants. In the midst of the controversy, Montpelier’s financial situation became precarious , according to board documents and numerous other communications.

As Montpelier’s finances began looking grim, then-National Trust President Paul Edmondson, who had helped engineer the “woke” takeover of Montpelier, unexpectedly announced that he would step down “in the spring,” albeit with no mention of any connection to the fourth president’s estate.

The timeline, however, sped up and became interesting. On Feb. 2, the board of Oatlands , a separate property, sued the National Trust as a whole and up to seventeen of its board members individually by name, including then-board Chairman Jay Clemens and new Chairwoman Martha Nelson. A later column will explore the specifics of the complaint, which appears to involve a question of fiduciary duty.

One week later, sooner than many had expected and sooner than “the spring,” Clemens sent a message to the National Trust board saying that Edmondson would leave by March 3, with Clemens himself stepping down as board chairman in order to serve as interim president of the National Trust.

At Montpelier, meanwhile, more seemingly odd things were happening….Now, while the Montpelier trustees continue to search for a permanent staff president, the interim reins (and reign) will devolve onto a “Co-Leadership team.”… The second, Katie Crawford-Lackey…[co-edited] a three-volume book series… titled Identities and Place and subtitled “Changing Labels and Intersectional Communities of LGBTQ and Two-Spirit People in the United States.”…. [The full column is at this link.]


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