Thomas Jefferson sold his extensive collection of books to the nation in 1815 to replace the congressional library destroyed when the British burned the United States Capitol the previous year. Famously declaring that “I cannot live without books,” he quickly began ordering replacements of titles that were particularly important to him. Despite repeated attempts, however, one title escaped him: a work by John Baxter published in London ca. 1796–1801 and entitled A new and impartial History of England, From the most Early Period of Genuine Historical Evidence to the Present Important and Alarming Crisis.
The unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state by another violates fundamental international law and reminds us that engines of despotism and lawlessness still exist and must be opposed.
Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with religion was... complicated, to say the least. People still argue over what he may or may not have truly believed, but one thing is clear: Jefferson gave religion a lot of thought. In the British Empire, the king served as both head of state and head of the Church of England, but Jefferson wanted something different for the United States.
It may seem surprising that one of our most well-known founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, had a Loyalist son.
How do we know what Monticello looked like during Jefferson’s time? Monticello has been called one of the best-documented plantations, and the same goes for the house interior; we are lucky to have a wealth of correspondence, visitor accounts, and even diagrams from Jefferson’s time. Today, we take for granted all of these rich sources and records that help us in our work. But back in the early 20th century, the situation was far different. For Women’s History Month, it feels appropriate to honor Marie Kimball, the woman who first rediscovered these sources and helped to make Monticello what it is today.
Minerva Granger was one of the enslaved women who was essential to Jefferson’s agricultural endeavors on his plantation. Along with her family and other members of the enslaved community, she planted and harvested tobacco and later wheat, which Jefferson sold on Atlantic markets.
Music was an important part of life for enslaved people at Monticello, and particular individuals, like Eston Hemings, within this society were noted for their artistic talents. For many enslaved people at plantations throughout the United States, music making was a way to strengthen family and community ties, resist oppression, entertain one another, and express thoughts and emotions about the past, present, and future.
In Thomas Jefferson’s lifetime, the holidays at Monticello were a time for family gatherings, visiting friends, settling accounts and planning for the new year. For Monticello’s enslaved community, the holiday season was a time for reunion and a possible respite from labor on the Plantation.
Writing to fellow architect Benjamin Labtrobe seven months after retiring from the presidency, Jefferson described Monticello as his "essay in architecture." Always balancing practicality with beauty, Jefferson noted his essay "has been so much subordinated to the law of convenience, & affected also by the circumstance of change in the original design, that it is liable to some unfavorable & just criticisms."
This fall, Monticello’s Restoration Department reconstructed a second section of Jefferson’s original ten-foot tall paling fence along Mulberry Row. The first section was reconstructed in 2018 between the Stone Stable and Hemmings Cabin. During Thomas Jefferson’s lifetime, enslaved carpenters constructed two generations of fences along Mulberry Row. It was this second fence, which was started in 1808 and finished by 1809, that we have partially reconstructed.
931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, VA 22902