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William McLure

Hired White Workers

William McLure worked as a weaver and built textile machinery at Monticello in 1812 and 1813.  He introduced mechanized cloth production to Jefferson’s “neighborhood” and trained Monticello slaves in spinning, weaving, and carding.  In 1812, Jefferson and his son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph opened a cloth “factory” on an outlying farm; McLure built spinning jennies and constructed two looms to facilitate the production of enough coarse cloth to clothe about 130 slaves.  Jefferson pledged to “furnish six women or girls to work for myself … under your direction” and “build a house for them to lodge in.” In exchange for training slaves and supervising cloth-making, McLure was given “a dwelling house for yourself, all of logs,” a “quota of corn & pork for that of your family,” and a “proportion of what shall be woven” each year.  When McLure departed in 1814, the textile workshop moved to the workmen’s house on Mulberry Row.

b. 1798

Learn more about Maria’s life history.

Explore the workmen’s house, a structure that served as a dwelling and textile workshop during Jefferson’s lifetime.


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