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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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