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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Monticello - Where Thomas Met Sally

Monticello - little mountain

Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence - and founded the University of Virginia - the first public university. He died on July 4 - 1826 - exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. He died in Monticello - his home on a hill overlooking Charlottesville VA. 

He had several children. In the past years - due to DNA testing - it has been proven that he fathered 4 kids by Sally Hemmings one of his slaves. We toured Monticello 25 years ago - and wanted to review it under today's new circumstances. 

Thomas Jefferson inherited 5000 acres from his family. He built this plantation on that land. The home has many neat features - but the plantation was never a success. He died in great debt. His library collection of 6700 books was sold to the Library of Congress to help pay off his debts. Eventually the Levy family bought Monticello for $2500 to help pay off the debts. After owning it 100 years - they gave the home to a non-profit foundation to keep for history. 

It cost $28 - no discounts - to tour the house for a day. There are 4 different tours. We took the 40 minute main house tour. The house is in remarkably great shape. The plantation is also being restored. They do show you where Sally Hemmings lived. No pictures are allowed in the house.

I was surprised to find out that Sally Hemmings was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife. Evidently it ran in the family - having children with the help. Thomas Jefferson went to France for many years - and he took Sally Hemmings along with him. Jefferson was secretary of state under Washington - and spent much time favoring France. Lafayette - from France - was a hero during the Revolutionary War. He was a big friend of Jefferson. 

There was a strong connection between Jefferson - Lafayette - and Francis Eppes. Frances Eppes was the grandson of Jefferson. There is a strong Charlotteville-Tallahassee connection. Francis Eppes moved to Tallahassee and donated money to found FSU. He was the president of the board for 8 years. A statue of him is on campus near the main gate. 

It looks just like the main building on UVA campus

3 floors disguised as 1 floor

It started out Greek - then he added French 

This is the west face

To the left would be a view of UVA campus

In the basement was a privy - for my friend Bussy 
He had a beer cellar - with a dumb waiter up to
dining room

The Jefferson private cemetery - his grave

An Eppes buried in the Jefferson Cemetery 

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