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Hired Slaves

Essex was a hired enslaved sawyer who probably worked at the Mulberry Row saw pit in 1796.  Jefferson hired Essex, as well as Isaac, Patrick and Peter, from the estate of Thomas Mann Randolph, Sr.  In January 1796, Jefferson recorded that “the men Mr. Randolph hired for me arrived last Saturday with the 3. mares, all well.”1  In addition, Jefferson hired “5. prime fellows @ £15. a year,” from Lucy, Jane, and William Wood, who lived about seven miles from Monticello,” as well as “3. sawyers @ £18. and £20. each.”  Later, Jefferson pronounced that “with Essex &c. I have a good force for my works.”2  This “gang” of hired slaves, including Essex, probably worked on projects that supported the renovation and enlargement of the main house.

  1. Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, Feb. 5, 1795.
  2. Thomas Jefferson to J.P.P. Derieux, Jan. 3, 1796; Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jan. 11, 1796

Learn more about the saw pit where sawyers hewed timbers into planks.

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Learn about the enslaved people who lived and worked on Mulberry Row, the dynamic industrial hub of the Monticello plantation.


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