Friday, June 5, 2009


A visit I have long wanted to make....Monticello, home of President Thomas Jefferson!! One of my heroes! Years ago I read Dumas Malone's multi-volume biography of him and the Fawn Brodie. Finally I get to go to Monticello!! And, guess what, it poured!!! We could not tour the grounds to see his gardens or the outlying buildings. Gee, we'll have to go back! Actually it is a very interesting place and, with all the different displays at the Visitor Center, can take days. He had over 6000 books!! And, in several languages. He received a classical education which meant learning Greek and Latin and being able to read in those languages plus, as Ambassador to France, he was fluent in French. The docent handled the Sally Hemmings question very deftly by saying there is no actual proof, but a good probability that Jefferson fathered all her children. Actually DNA studies show Sally's descendants carry Jefferson DNA, but, since Thomas Jefferson did not have any male offspring, the studies cannot show which brother sired the children. If I recall correctly, it is on that basis that Jefferson's descendants have denied any of Sally's from being buried in the family cemetery at Monticello. (Center photo) After our tour we headed to Michie Tavern (c. 1784) for a tour and lunch. Interesting...can you imagine sleeping in a bed with ropes for springs and a "mattress" made of corn husks and then sharing the space with a stranger!! The Southern fried chicken was very good.... Don't know if it was authentic Colonial US fare.

After lunch we headed a few miles down the road to Ash Lawn Plantation, home of President James Monroe and his wife Elizabeth... best friends to Thomas Jefferson. Luckily the rain had let up! Jefferson found the site for Monroe, selected the site for the house and sent his gardeners to start the orchards. Frequent guests at both Monticello and Ash Lawn were James and Dolley Madison. It is a lovely home and was "home." You can tell it was lived in and enjoyed by both the Monroes and the family that owned it afterward and gave it to College of William and Mary, Monroe's alma mater. The tree in the photo below was a gift to Monroe from Jefferson. It is magnificent!! Its size; its shape; its age!! In the bottom right photo the path in the hedge leads to a statue of Monroe. Really pretty house and setting...

Did you know Virginia was home to 8 Presidents? Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Harrison, Tyler, Taylor & Wilson! Pretty impressive...must be the balmy weather.

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