Portugal

Portugal[1] occupies the western part of the Iberian Peninsula. Thomas Jefferson never visited Portugal, but he had many Portuguese friends and acquaintances, and his farm and his table were the beneficiaries of a variety of Portuguese exports.

Jefferson was very fond of Portuguese wine. After his residence in Europe he rejected the "too powerful" Madeira for lighter European wines, always including a store of Portuguese wines like port and, especially, Termo. In 1806 a Termo order was described as a "provison for my future comfort" and, when ordering for Termo (second choice port) in 1816, he made his well-known comment, "Wine from long habit has become an indispensible for my health." Other Portuguese wines he purchased were Arruda, Becelas, Oeiras and Setubal.

Jefferson had a number of Portuguese friends and acquaintances. The Portuguese naturalist, Abbé José Correia da Serra was a good friend and frequent visitor to Monticello. Thomas Jefferson attributed the introduction of the tomato to Virginia to Dr. John de Sequeyra (1712-1795), a London-born Jew of Portuguese extraction. Sequeyra practiced medicine in Williamsburg and attended John Wayles in his final illness. John F. Oliveira Fernades was another physician with whom Jefferson was friendly; he supplied Jefferson with some of his Portuguese wines.

Jefferson's sheep breeding operations were apparently indebted to the produce of Portugal. In 1810 William Jarvis, U.S. consul at Lisbon, sent Jefferson and James Madison some purebred Merino sheep.

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on Lucia Stanton, Monticello Research Report, 1992.

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