You are here

The Genius of Jefferson


Like the new nation, it was always a work in progress. Jefferson called Monticello his “essay in architecture.” Surrounded by ornamental gardens, it was a monument to the architecture and republican ideals of ancient Rome. As Jefferson’s autobiographical statement, Monticello encapsulates the interests, talents, ideals, ambitions, and realities of its visionary and complex owner.

As the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson became the primary spokesman for a revolutionary generation—one that created a new nation based on radical ideas. He trusted human reason and thought that with education, people were capable of self-government. The ideas of the Declaration launched an experiment in political liberty. Jefferson’s public positions ranged from local delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses to President of the United States. His epitaph lists his achievements as author of the Declaration of Independence, sponsor of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and founder of the University of Virginia, but he is also well recognized for his role as third President, as sponsor of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and as the force behind the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson’s continuous quest for knowledge and the breadth of his curiosity and intellect provide a compelling model for purposeful dialogue. Jefferson’s wide-ranging interests were the product of his Enlightenment intellect. He studied and made contributions to multiple fields including architecture, botany, horticulture, archaeology, ethnography, natural history, and astronomy.

Whether you choose an intimate wine tasting with friends or a scholarly talk designed to elevate discussion with your colleagues, below are just some of the options for a customized visit to Monticello. Contact the Office of Special Events at or at 434-984-9821 to design the perfect experience for your group.

Monticello offers a variety of customized tours that can be arranged for your guests while visiting Thomas Jefferson’s “little mountain.”

* AFTER-HOURS TOURS are designed to allow your guests to view the house at their own pace while getting a view into the life and mind of Jefferson and Monticello.
* BEHIND THE SCENES TOURS include the second and third floors rarely on view to the public.
* ARCHITECTURE TOURS reveal Monticello as Jefferson’s essay in architecture.
* SLAVERY AT MONTICELLO TOURS include a guided walk along Mulberry Row, the plantation “Main Street,” focusing on the experiences of the enslaved people who lived at Monticello.
* GARDENS AND GROUNDS TOURS explore the historic gardens surrounding Jefferson’s home and shed light on his lifelong interest in botany, gardening, and agriculture.
* WINE TOURS reveal Jefferson as America’s first distinguished viticulturist and the father of the American wine industry.
* CUSTOMIZED TOURS can be developed to include a range of topics of particular interest to your group. Customized tours are subject to availability and require at least a month advance notice.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation sponsors Jefferson scholarship through the work of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. As the preeminent authority on Jefferson, the Center engages a global audience with Jefferson’s timeless ideas about liberty and democracy through its diverse programming. The Foundation welcomes the opportunity to work with you to develop unique educational talks and seminars. From the fundamentals of Jefferson and political leadership to insight into life at Monticello, private talks with our experts allow guests to delve deeper into a variety of aspects of Jefferson and Monticello. Talks range from 15 minutes to an hour in length, and topics include:

* Revealing the GENIUS OF JEFFERSON through Monticello.
* UNCOVERING PLANTATION LIFE THROUGH ARCHAEOLOGY—A survey of the ground-breaking archaeological work at Monticello and its international relevance to historic sites.
* OPENING UP THE WEST—Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
* THE RESTORATION OF MULBERRY ROW—Discover the Foundation’s efforts to restore Mulberry Row, the “Main Street” of Monticello.
* JEFFERSON AND LEADERSHIP—A case study of Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase.
* THOMAS JEFFERSON: THE REVOLUTIONARY GARDENER—Discuss Jefferson’s role in revolutionizing American agriculture. 




Renowned Virginia winemaker and Monticello’s vintner Gabriele Rausse discusses Jefferson’s efforts to grow grapes at Monticello and his efforts to establish a Virginia wine industry. Includes a tasting of Virginia wines. Subject to availability.


Login or register to participate in our online community.