There seems to be no consensus on Thomas Jefferson's eye color. His eyes were variously described by family, friends, employees, and others as blue, gray, "light," hazel, and combinations thereof. An examination of Jefferson's life portraits does not clarify the issue; he is variously depicted with blue, hazel, and even brown eyes.Anchor

Contemporary Accounts

1801-1809. Joseph Delaplaine, visitor to Monticello. "... his eyes are light, and full of intelligence."[1]

1806-1821. Edmund Bacon, overseer at Monticello. "He had blue eyes."[2]

1814. Francis Calley Gray, visitor to Monticello. "... light gray eyes."[3]

1823. Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart, visitor to Monticello. "His eyes were light blue or gray."[4]

1824. Daniel Webster, visitor to Monticello. "His eyes are small, very light, and now neither brilliant nor striking."[5]Anchor

Secondhand Accounts

1858. Henry Randall, biographer. "His full, deep set eyes, the prevailing color of which was light hazel (or flecks of hazel on a groundwork of grey), were peculiarly expressive, and mirrored, as the clear lake mirrors the cloud, every emotion which was passing through his mind."[6]

1871. Sarah N. Randolph, great-granddaughter. "Mr. Jefferson's ... eye, hazel."[7]

1948. Dumas Malone, biographer. "His eyes were hazel, though often described in later years as blue."[8]Anchor

Further Sources


  1. ^ Joseph Delaplaine, Delaplaine's Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished American Characters (Philadelphia: Rogers & Esler Printers, 1815-16), 152.
  2. ^ Hamilton W. Pierson, Jefferson at Monticello: The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson (New York: Charles Scribner, 1862), 70. See also Bear, Jefferson at Monticello (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1967), 71.
  3. ^ Francis Calley Gray, Thomas Jefferson in 1814, Being an Account of a Visit to Monticello, Virginia (Boston: The Club of Odd Volumes, 1924), 67, quoted in Peterson, Visitors, 57.
  4. ^ Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart to W. J. Campbell, August 3, 1886, Accession # 4285-bSpecial Collections, University of Virginia Library. Stuart was the son of Archibald Stuart of Staunton, who was a close friend of Jefferson's.
  5. ^ Daniel Webster, The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, ed. Fletcher Webster (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1857) 364, quoted in Peterson, Visitors, 99.
  6. ^ Randall, Life34.
  7. ^ Randolph, Domestic Life337.
  8. ^ Malone, Jefferson, 1:48.