Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today:
We play songs by Jessica Simpson ...
answer a question about the wine-making industry ...
and tell about the home of one of America’s first presidents.
Rediscovering James Madison
Monday is Constitution Day. It is the anniversary of the day when the American Constitutional Convention ended. Delegates to the talks signed the proposed Constitution of the United States on September Seventeenth, Seventeen-Eighty-Seven.
This year, special observances in honor of Constitution Day are being held at the former home of delegate James Madison. Shep O’Neal has more about the man called the Father of the Constitution.
James Madison wrote the first plan for union of the new American nation. He also was mainly responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. Later, Mister Madison was the country’s fourth President.
The Madison family lived at Montpelier (mont-PEEL-yer), a huge property about one-hundred-thirty kilometers south of Washington, D-C. The property extends over more than one-thousand-one-hundred hectares of land. Today, a private group operates Montpelier.
In recent years, crews at Montpelier have been searching for evidence of past human activities. The project depends mainly on the work of volunteers. Students from nearby James Madison University work at Montpelier in May and June for no pay.
Matthew Reaves is directing the project. He and his crew are studying objects believed to come from Mount Pleasant, the first Madison home at Montpelier. Mount Pleasant was destroyed in a fire around Seventeen-Sixty-Five. After that, the area was used as farmland.
Recently, work crews at Mount Pleasant found the remains of a building. The discovery is exciting because crews have been looking for the remains of the main house for the past four years.
Matthew Reaves believes the project at Mount Pleasant will continue for two to three more years. After that, he wants to explore some of the areas at Montpelier where slaves lived.
Wine Making in California
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Brazil. Silvio Unzer asks about the history of the wine industry, especially in the western state of California.
Wine is an alcoholic drink made from grapes. Experts do not know when the first wine was made. They say, however, that people who lived eight-thousand years ago enjoyed drinking wine. Wine was also a popular drink among the ancient Greeks. They were the first to grow grapes as a business and to sell their wines to other nations.
Wine was also important to the ancient Romans. Grapes were grown throughout the Roman Empire. Later, the Catholic Church continued to produce wines in European countries. Experts say the wine industry appeared in almost every new country settled by Europeans.
That is what happened in the American state of California. Franciscan religious workers from Spain who settled the area made wine to use in religious services. Father Junipero Serra established Mission San Diego in Seventeen-Sixty-Nine. It was the first of twenty-one such religious centers. Almost all of the missions grew grapes and produced wine.
The discovery of gold in California in Eighteen-Forty-Eight helped establish the wine industry. Thousands of people traveled to California in hopes of finding gold. But most did not find any. So many people decided to grow grapes instead. These included people from other countries who loved wine. They grew European grapes in California for the first time.
California has a lot of sunshine all year. This helps grapes to ripen anywhere in the state. Growing grapes for wine became very profitable. The number of vines planted increased quickly. For example, in Eighteen-Fifty-Six, more than one-million grapevines were planted in California. Two years later, there were almost four-million. By Eighteen-Fifty-Nine, California was producing almost two-million liters of wine.
That same year, California lawmakers helped the wine industry expand. A new law permitted grape growers to produce a crop before having to pay taxes. By Eighteen-Sixty-Two, the number of grapevines in California had reached eight-million.
Today, the California Wine Institute says the United States has about one-thousand-six-hundred companies that make wine. More than half of these wineries are in California. The group says the state produces ninety percent of the wines made in the United States.
Popular American singer Jessica Simpson had great success with her first record album in Nineteen-Ninety-Nine. “Sweet Kisses” sold more than two-million copies. Here is the title song:
((CUT 1: SWEET KISSES))
Now Jessica Simpson has a new record, “Irresistible.” Bob Doughty tells us about her.
Jessica Simpson was seventeen years old when she recorded her first album. She is twenty-one now. She says her growth shows in the new songs.
Jessica Simpson says the message of the songs on “Irresistible” is that nothing is impossible if you have an inner strength. Here is the title song from her new album.
((CUT 2: IRRESISTIBLE))
Jessica Simpson learned to sing in church in her hometown of Dallas, Texas. She first recorded religious songs. Critics say one song on her new album shows her true spirit. It is one she has been singing since she was a young girl in church. We leave you now with Jessica Simpson singing that song, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”
((CUT 3: HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW))
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC—VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by George Grow and Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was Greg Burns. And our producer was Paul Thompson.