On August 17, 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in his account book, "Insured my houses with Mr. Ast as follows," including the estimated value, insured value, and premium for Monticello and four different outbuildings.[1] "Mr. Ast" was William Frederick Ast of the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. Jefferson had first considered purchasing insurance for Monticello in 1795, and even went so far as to begin filling out the insurance declaration form.[2] He had significant reservations, however, because of the way the company had been set up under a 1794 act.[3] The Mutual Assurance Society's constitution was later amended,[4] and Jefferson purchased insurance in August 1800 for the "Dwelling house" (Monticello), "Outchamber" (South Pavilion), "Stone house" (the structure now known as the Textile Shop or Stone Workman's House), the joiner's shop, and stable. The total premium was $91.30. At that time, premiums were intended to be paid only once; after 1809, Jefferson began paying an annual premium of $12.84. Jefferson maintained the policies until at least 1823, with only a short gap in coverage in 1820.[5]

Thomas Jefferson's original insurance declaration is still in the archives of the Mutual Assurance Society in Richmond. The five original insurance policies are at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Further Sources


  1. ^ MB, 2:1025. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  2. ^ "Declaration for the Mutual Assurance Society," [1796 or later], in PTJ, 29:239-44. Transcription available at Founders Online. For the original document, see Monticello: building insurance, verso & recto, 1796, by Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2003).
  3. ^ For an explanation of this situation, see Jefferson to Ast, September [17], 1799, in PTJ, 31:186-87, 31:187-88n. Transcription and editorial note available at Founders Online.
  4. ^ Ast to Jefferson, May 10, 1800, in PTJ, 31:571-72. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  5. ^ MB, 2:1025n47. Transcription and editorial note available at Founders Online.