Drove to Tom's House

Trip Start Jul 08, 2011
Trip End May 26, 2012

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Where I stayed
400 15th Street South

Flag of United States  , Virginia
Saturday, April 14, 2012

110 miles southwest of Washington is the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, the traditional home of a founding Father of our nation, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was born in Shadwell, Virginia, southeast of Charlottesville in April 1743.

Thomas Jefferson is well known for his authorship of this nation's Declaration of Independence, but he is also known for his 33 years of public service as a delegate to the Virginia General Assembly, a delegate to the US congress, governor of Virginia, US minister to France, secretary of state, vice-president and later president of the United States, and finally the founder of the University of Virginia. It is notable that Jefferson’s presidency included the Louisiana Purchase (from France), doubling the size of the United States and sending Lewis and Clark on their expedition of discovery to the Pacific coast. Jefferson was an enthusiast of science and is well known for his contributions to Astronomy, Archaeology, Horticulture, Ethnography and Paleontology.

Jefferson taught himself to be an architect, studied the works of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (from the 1570s) and upon the leveling of the Monticello mountaintop began the 40-year process of designing, constructing and remodeling his home. Jefferson eventually transformed Monticello into a three-story 21-room home utilizing both free white and slave craftsmen. With the construction of the dome over the west front of his home, his home became the first home in America utilizing this type of Roman inspired structure.

As the author of memorable words, "all men are created equal", and men have a right to “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” he is well known for his ideas toward the foundations of self-government and individual freedom. These words still inspire people around the world today.

Interestingly, Jefferson inherited 155 slaves when he obtained the land on which Monticello sits. It was these slaves, indentured workers and craftsmen which occupied the area known as Mulberry Row, on the south side of the main house. In 1796 there were as many as 23 structures, small stone, frame and log buildings, that were the quarters and workshops of these household members. Most of these structures no longer exist.

There were over three generations of families that lived in bondage at Monticello, and one of those slaves was Sally Hemings, whom Jefferson is believed to have father four children.

Jefferson is buried at Monticello, with other members of his family in the Cemetery located on Monticello. This cemetery is stilled utilized by Jefferson’s descendants. Jefferson’s epitaph reads only, “Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.”
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