Monticello, Virginia

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, Universityof Wisconsin - Green Bay

Overall, I had the impression of a kid who wanted all his life to build a super fort, and finally had the wherewithal to do it. Start with the location. Jefferson loved this hilltop ("Monticello" means "little mountain" in Italian) but it's not really a practical place for a plantation.

I had the impression that Jefferson was more a tinkerer than a serious inventor or innovator. Monticello was not extremely well built in some respects and fell into serious disrepair after his death. Most of his assets had to be sold off to pay debts after his death. Admittedly he was preoccupied with politics, but he also lived until 1826. Still, his accomplishments were immense.

Like Mount Vernon, Monticello is run by and preserved by a private foundation, and is not a National Historic Site.

The British Are Coming!

At one point the British came to arrest Jefferson, but he was warned and retreated to another house about 60 miles southwest.

Left: Awaiting the re-enactment.

Below: The courier arrives.
Up rode the troopers one, two three...
Where's that jolly jumbuck....
Oh wait, wrong continent. 
The officer in green is none other than Banastre Tarleton, likely model for the villainous officer in The Patriot and a nasty piece of work in real life as well. 

Savior of Monticello

 Uriah Philips Levy was the first Jewish flag officer in the U.S. Navy. He admired Jefferson for his commitment to religious liberty, and acquired Monticello in 1834. The Levys finally bequeathed Monticello to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation in 1923.

Below: the grave of his mother, Rachel Philips Levy.

Test Plots

Along one side of Monticello are plots where Jefferson planted new varieties of crops.   

Jefferson's Grave

Visitor Center


University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Jefferson regarded founding the University on a par with the Declaration of Independence. 

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Created 22 June 2007, Last Update 04 June 2020