Thomas Jefferson made a habit of inspecting his plantation in the afternoon to monitor the work of the 140 enslaved workers who worked at Monticello and his outlying farms. Always interested in measurements and record-keeping, Jefferson made extensive notations about his slaves and their duties in his Farm Book and Memorandum Books. For instance, he noted the rations his overseer distributed, the number of yards he purchased for clothing, the daily task required by particular enslaved individuals, and the cost of items purchased for use in the kitchen.

Jefferson and Slavery

Jefferson's words and deeds are contradictory on the issue of slavery. Although he drafted the words "all men are created equal," he held more than 600 individuals in slavery during his lifetime.

Online Exhibit - Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row at Monticello


As the principal plantation street, Mulberry Row was the center of work and domestic life for dozens of people—free whites, free blacks, indentured servants, and enslaved people. It was populated by more than 20 dwellings, workshops, and storehouses between 1770 and the sale of Monticello in 1831.

Getting Word African American Oral History Project

The Getting Word African American Oral History Project preserves the histories of Monticello’s enslaved families and their descendants. Through over 100 interviews with participants and countless hours of research, remarkable stories have emerged to form an archive of freedom.

Thomas Jefferson
...we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.

Up Next: "Attending to My Farm"

Monticello was a 5,000-acre agricultural concern with several farms where enslaved workers tended to various crops, including wheat, corn and tobacco for sale at market as well as fruits and vegetables for personal consumption.