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Mulberry Row was a complex community influenced by circumstances beyond Virginia. The American and French Revolutions and the War of 1812 made American commerce unstable, causing Jefferson to shift from tobacco to wheat cultivation and to add industries to Mulberry Row.  His ability to achieve his goals depended on a work force of free, indentured, and mainly enslaved people.  Monticello’s dozens of enslaved men, women, and children formed strong family bonds to counter their oppression.

Treatment

Physical punishment was inherent in the coercive system of slavery, although Jefferson tried to minimize it.  More>

Economy

Jefferson experimented with new industries to counteract an unstable economy influenced by war and trade embargoes. More>

Labor

Dozens of workers of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds labored in Mulberry Row’s various workshops. More>

Skills

Hired white artisans trained enslaved apprentices who became skilled weavers, smiths, charcoal-burners or joiners. More>

Resistance

Enslaved men and women defied slavery’s oppression through day-to-day resistance, violence, theft, and running away. More>

Family

The strong bonds of African American families defined Monticello’s enslaved community and helped to counter slavery’s harshness. More>

Lewis Miller, The Party at Supper and Breakfast, 1853-67.  Abby Aldrich Rockefel

Picturing Mulberry Row’s People

While no images of enslaved people on Mulberry Row survive, these paintings and prints suggest the vibrant individuality of those held in bondage on Jefferson's mountaintop. More>

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