Monday is President’s Day in the U.S. While we normally think about Washington and Lincoln, since their birthdays were in February, the third President Thomas Jefferson seems to be the President whose name is popping up everywhere in recent days. His restored home, Monticello, sits atop a hill in Virginia surrounded by a backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a sublime location for one of America’s premiere historic houses. It displays the fullest scope of this renaissance man’s many interests – from architecture to gardening to the various Jefferson inventions. If you can’t make it to Charolottesville for a visit, Monticello’s website is well worth time spent exploring its many features. One of my favorites is Monticello Explorer which includes a great interactive map.
The radio program Studio 360 recently produced an excellent piece on the history of the property covering topics you would expect, such as slavery at the plantation, and some you wouldn’t, such as a Mick Jagger visit to the property. I highly recommend it.
In Washington, D.C. a new temporary exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History looks at the complicated role of slavery at Monticello. A project of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the exhibition is open in Washington until mid-October.
The National Museum of American History also has a temporary exhibition featuring Jefferson’s Bible. Visit the website and you can read his virtual Bible and learn about the fascinating conservation process required to preserve this iconic object.
You might be interested in my previous post about Jefferson’s other home, Poplar Forest, his retreat in southern Virginia.