Portugal occupies the western part of the Iberian Peninsula. Thomas Jefferson never visited Portugal, but he had many Portuguese friends and acquaintances, and his farm and his table were the beneficiaries of Portuguese exports.
Jefferson was very fond of Portuguese wine. After his residence in Europe, he rejected the "too powerful" Madeira for lighter European wines, always including a store of Portuguese wines like port and, especially, Termo.1 In 1806, he described a Termo order as a "provison for my future comfort."2 When ordering for Termo (and making port his second choice) in 1815, he made his well-known comment, "wine from long habit has become an indispensable for my health."3 Other Portuguese wines that Jefferson purchased were Arruda, Becelas, Oeiras, and Setubal.
Jefferson had a number of Portuguese friends and acquaintances. The Portuguese naturalist Abbé José Correia da Serra was a good friend and frequent visitor to Monticello. Jefferson attributed the introduction of the tomato to Virginia to Dr. John de Sequeyra (1712-1795), a London-born Jew of Portuguese extraction.4 Sequeyra practiced medicine in Williamsburg and attended John Wayles in his final illness. John F. Oliveira Fernandes was another physician with whom Jefferson was friendly; he supplied Jefferson with some of his Portuguese wines.
Jefferson's sheep breeding operations were apparently indebted to the produce of Portugal. In 1810, William Jarvis, U.S. consul at Lisbon, sent purebred Merino sheep to Jefferson and James Madison.
- Lucia Stanton, Monticello Research Report, 1992
1. Jefferson to John F. Oliveira Fernandes, December 16, 1815, in PTJ:RS, 9:263. Transcription available at Founders Online.
2. Jefferson to William Jarvis, April 16, 1806, Privately owned. Transcription available at Founders Online.
3. Jefferson to Oliveira Fernandes, December 16, 1815, in PTJ:RS, 9:263. Transcription available at Founders Online.