Spring 1997

What's in a Name?

Over the years, many readers have asked why JMU calls its magazine Montpelier. With this, the second issue of JMU's renewed commitment to a top quality, quarterly university magazine, an answer seems in order.

So, what is in a name? readers wonder. Quite a bit, actually. The answer is long - more than 200 years old. A condensed account unfolds over the next few pages.

A more simple answer, however, can be found in the magazine's masthead on Page 2. Montpelier bears the name of its eponym, the estate of James and Dolley Madison in Orange County, Va., which is now a museum property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

An eponym, strictly speaking, is a real or mythical person from whose name the name of a nation, institution, theory, movement or other entity is derived. Applied loosely, eponym is the opposite of namesake, so that JMU considers its magazine the namesake of James Madison's estate.

More to the point, however, is that James Madison University is the proud namesake of James Madison. And by naming its magazine Montpelier, JMU honors its own eponym, James Madison, for creating the governmental structure that has made the United States the world's most pre-eminent and successful republic, and for his roles as a Founding Father of the United States, its fourth president, former secretary of state, Father of the U.S. Constitution, congressional representative, Virginia legislator, political theorist, philosopher and statesman.

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