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Richard Richardson

b. ca. 1775
Hired White Workers

Massachusetts Historical Society

Richard Richardson was a plasterer, bricklayer, and overseer at Monticello from 1796 to 1801.  He was to lay brick “every season” during the construction of Monticello II (1796–1809) and probably lived in the “oald stone house,” the workmen’s house, with other hired white artisans.  In 1797, Richardson traveled to Philadelphia to learn to “cut stone” and the “art of plaistering,” two skills that he applied at Monticello.  In 1799, Jefferson appointed Richardson overseer, charging him with hiring slaves, settling accounts with merchants, plastering the walls in the main house, directing the nailery, and supervising the work of the enslaved carpenters.  When Richardson failed to meet Jefferson’s expectations, he hired a new overseer, Gabriel Lilly, in 1800.  Soon after, Jefferson told Richardson that there is “nothing in which I could engage you,” and the artisan left Monticello.  He sailed to Jamaica in 1801 to inherit an uncle’s estate. 

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