Before his death, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his grave. In this undated document, Jefferson supplied a sketch of the shape of the marker, and the epitaph with which he wanted it to be inscribed:

"... on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more:

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia

"because by these," he explained, "as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered."