Monticello guide Kyle Chattleton takes us through the decades-long effort to establish the University of Virginia, which Jefferson considered one of three accomplishments for which he most wished to be remembered.
"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind." - to William Roscoe, 27 Dec. 1820
Jefferson included the creation of the University of Virginia as one of three accomplishments for which he most wished to be remembered. Years after the end of his presidency, at the age of seventy-six, he spearheaded the legislative campaign for the university's charter, secured its location, designed its buildings, planned its curriculum, and served as its first rector. It was his last great public service.
On October 3, 1825, in what he later described as a "most painful event," Thomas Jefferson appeared before a gathering of students, professors, and trustees at the University of Virginia inside its now-famed Rotunda. Recent unruly student behavior had culminated in an attack on two professors with bricks and canes that was quickly followed by threats by faculty to resign.
Thomas Jefferson devoted the last years of his life to founding one of the first secular colleges in the United States, the University of Virginia. In this livestream featuring Thomas Jefferson (interpreted by Bill Barker), we explore Jefferson’s vision for the university, and the enslaved people whose labor made that vision a reality.
From Thomas Jefferson’s founding of the University of Virginia in 1819 through the American Civil War, over 4,000 enslaved people built, maintained, and served students and faculty at what is now one of the nation's most prestigious public universities. Dr. Justene Hill Edwards looks at the enslaved people who built, maintained, and served students and faculty at the University of Virginia.