“…Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”

These poignant words have inspired people around the world. Yet, this promise remains unfulfilled for many Americans. Join us Saturday, July 4, at 11 a.m. (EDT) as we virtually commemorate both the powerful words of the Declaration of Independence and how generations have fought—and continue to fight—to make these ideas real.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Jon Meacham will reflect on our country’s founding principles, and the role Thomas Jefferson envisioned citizens playing in moving the nation forward; Spanish-American chef, José Andrés, will share his passion for being a “citizen of the world” through his non-profit, World Central Kitchen; and Annette Gordon-Reed will interview Velma Williams, the great-great-granddaughter of Peter Hemings, Jefferson’s enslaved cook and brewer. Ms. Williams turns 100 years old this Independence Day.

Watch it here or on our Facebook and YouTube channels.

This Independence Day declare your support for Monticello by making a gift today! Donate now »

Featured Speakers

Chef José Andrés

Chef Andrés

Twice named to Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list and recipient of the 2015 National Humanities Medal, José Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, New York Times best-selling author, educator, humanitarian, and chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup, a collective of nearly thirty restaurants throughout the country and beyond. In 2010, Andrés founded World Central Kitchen, a non-profit specializing in delivering food relief in the wake of natural and humanitarian disasters. Notably, his team served 3.7 million meals to the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and has since served more than 20 million meals worldwide. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WCK has partnered with restaurants, small farms, and local governments around the country to combat food insecurity. A naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Spain, Andrés has been a tireless advocate for immigration reform and on July 4, 2014 was named by President Barack Obama as that year’s “Outstanding American by Choice.”


Annette Gordon-Reed

Annette Gordon-Reed

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and formerly the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2010-2016) and Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford (2014-2015). Gordon-Reed won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton, 2009), a subject she had previously written about in Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (University Press of Virginia, 1997). She is also the author of Andrew Johnson (Times Books/Henry Holt, 2010). Her most recently published book (with Peter S. Onuf) is “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing, 2016). Her honors include a fellowship from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, a Guggenheim Fellowship in the humanities, a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Award, and the Woman of Power & Influence Award from the National Organization for Women in New York City. Gordon-Reed was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011 and is a member of the Academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham is a presidential historian, contributing writer to the New York Times Book Review, contributing editor at TIME, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Society of American Historians, he holds the Rogers Chair in the American Presidency and is a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. Meacham is a regular guest on Morning Joe and other broadcasts.  Jon is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.


John D'earth

John D'earth

Trumpeter and composer John D'earth is the Director of Jazz Performance at the University of Virginia where he teaches improvisation, jazz trumpet, jazz composition, and directs the UVA Jazz Ensemble. A long-time resident of Charlottesville, D'earth has appeared on recordings by Dave Matthews and Bruce Hornsby as well as recording a number of CDs on his own.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation gratefully thanks the following individuals and companies for their support of Monticello’s Independence Day celebration:

The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation
Joe and Sally Gladden
Brent and Lindsay Halsey
Edward W. and Betty Knight Scripps Foundation

Additional support provided by:

The Richard D. & Carolyn W. Jacques Foundation
2RW Consultants
Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects
Martin Horn
Michie Tavern
Shelter Associates

Video of the 2019 Ceremony

Mr. Khan's remarks start at 11 minutes, 15 seconds. The new citizens take the Oath of Citizenship at 39 minutes, 15 seconds.

Read a transcript of Mr. Khan's remarks »