Robert H. Smith Center at Montalto dedicated with Jefferson Conference

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Completes Montalto Restoration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Monday, May 9, 2011
Media Contact: Lisa Stites

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.—The Robert H. Smith Center at Montalto, Thomas Jefferson’s ‘high mountain’ overlooking Monticello, will be dedicated with the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies conference “Jefferson’s Adversaries: British Leadership in the American War of Independence” May 13-14.

With its panoramic views of Monticello and vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Montalto is a spectacular location for the world-class education center. The “high mountain” rises 410 feet above Monticello, and is historically important as Jefferson’s first land acquisition. He was 28 in 1771 when he asked Edward Carter to agree “to give me as much of his nearest mountain as can be seen from mine, and 100 yds. beyond the line of sight.”

The leadership gift for the Montalto renovation project was made by Robert H. Smith shortly before he died in December 2009.  Over the years, Smith and his wife Clarice have been transformational donors for numerous educational programs at Monticello.  This year, the Smiths’ vision for Montalto will come to fruition with an international conference on Jefferson.

“Bob envisioned the Thomas Jefferson Foundation as an organization of global influence through its research and scholarship. Montalto has been transformed into a world class center for education.  An international conference on Jefferson is a significant and moving way to recognize Bob’s legacy,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, President and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

The opening conference brings together a committee of international scholars, including leading authorities on the British side of the American Revolution, for a manuscript workshop to discuss the forthcoming book “The Men Who Lost America” by Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies.

The committee will be among the first to read and review O’Shaughnessy’s manuscript in advance of publication.  Peter Onuf, member of the International Center for Jefferson Studies’s Advisory Board and Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor at the University of Virginia, will moderate the conference. Philip Zelikow, scholar, author, American diplomat and former executive director of the 9/11 Commission will be the featured Friday night dinner speaker.

Workshop committee members include Ira Gruber (Emeritus, Rice University), Maya Jasanoff (Harvard University), Stephen Conway (University College, London University), Harry Dickinson (Emeritus, Edinburgh University), Julie Flavell (University of Dundee) and Mark Urban (BBC).

“We are privileged to have such a fine group of scholars in our presence. The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies is dedicated to promoting a global dialogue about Jefferson’s ideas. This workshop is a gathering of great minds and great ideas at a one-of-a-kind location,” said O’Shaughnessy. 

The Foundation will use Montalto to further its mission of education and preservation and expand its vision of creating a global dialogue with Jefferson’s ideas. The Foundation’s Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies plays a central role in the development of educational programs at Montalto.

Media Opportunity – Schedule of Events

Friday, May 13
3:30 – 3:50 Media is invited to Montalto for video/photos.

4:00 p.m.

Interview opportunity with Thomas Jefferson Foundation President and CEO Leslie Greene Bowman and Dr. Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies about Montalto and opening conference.

 4:20 p.m.

Interview opportunity with Jim Haden, president of Martha Jefferson Hospital about a gift of history to the Foundation related to Montalto.  More information to be released.

Please RSVP to Lisa Stites at 434.984.7519 or by Thursday, May 12.

About “The Men Who Lost America”

Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s forthcoming book, The Men Who Lost America, evaluates the role of British leadership in the Revolutionary War, a war that Britain seemingly should have won. It is commonly assumed that the incompetence of the commanders and politicians led to Britain’s defeat. These leaders have been ridiculed in popular culture and, though less crudely presented, these caricatures even permeate scholarly literature. This book focuses on the ten key British military decision makers in the Revolutionary War. It challenges the stereotypes and offers a very different explanation of why Britain lost America.


The Thomas Jefferson Foundation owns and operates Monticello, the mountaintop home of Thomas Jefferson. As a private, nonprofit organization, the Foundation receives no regular federal or state budget support for its twofold mission of preservation and education.  About 450,000 people visit Monticello each year. For information, visit

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