The Monticello House

Making Hard Decisions: Running Away

If you were enslaved at Monticello, would you have run away? Explore this and other challenges faced by Monticello's slaves.

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Monticello’s West Front.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
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Chessmen, ivory, French, ca. 1770–90.Thomas Jefferson Foundation
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Top: Walking stick, whalebone, ivory, and gold, 1809.Thomas Jefferson Foundation
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Tablespoon and forks, fiddle and thread pattern, silver, French, 1784.Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
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Vegetable dish with cover, silver, French, 1786–87.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
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chessmen.jpg
walking sticks.jpg
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Jefferson designed one of the most architecturally significant residences in America. The first Monticello was a two-story, eight-room house that revealed his knowledge of classical architecture. In 1796, inspired by neoclassical buildings he had seen while serving as American minister to France, Jefferson began transforming Monticello into a three-story, 21-room brick structure. Inside and out, Jefferson’s free and enslaved workmen made his design a reality. Jefferson filled his house with furnishings and collections reflecting his education, broad interests, and status. He employed labor-saving technology for efficiency and maximized light and heat for optimal comfort.

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