An Antique Smart House

512px-Thomas_Jefferson's_Monticello_EstateSusan here, just back from a few days in the wilds of Virginia to visit family, days that included a stay at a fabulous bed and breakfast–a beautifully preserved plantation home originally built in the early 18th century–and a day spent at the amazing and stunning Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. I’ve been there before, but not for a few years. Each time brings a new perspective. The day also brought heavy rain—a downpour that soaked us head to foot despite umbrellas, and so I spent the day sloshing around in wet sandals and damp jeans (though my hair got nicely curly, haha). In such weather, we didn’t have much chance to see the famous Monticello gardens—we gave up on that pretty quickly, with the gravel pathways awash in mud. So the focus this time was on the magnificent house (and later the wonderful gift shop, a great place to stay out of the rain!). (photo credit – wikimedia commons, Christopher Hollis)

Crucible of warI've always had a soft spot for early American history, particularly pre-Colonial through the Revolution. This is the history I read for pleasure and endless curiosity, and as a break from researching Scottish history for my books. Born and raised in Upstate New York, I cut my historian’s teeth on the French & Indian Wars and the Colonial era (I grew up where Last of the Mohicans was set). Some of my favorite reading in this era is Crucible of War and The War that Made America, both by Fred Anderson—whose history reads smoothly and elegantly, with the great pacing and characterization of good fiction. I’m also a fan of David McCullough’s 1776 and John Adams–powerfully written, deeply researched and insightful books well worthy of the awards they’ve garnered. And of course one of these days I intend to see the musical Hamilton! Rap music or harpsichord, I don’t care, if it brings that era to life and helps us experience the feelings and inspiration of those amazing people, I’m a fan.    

I’ll admit–even with two dozen Scottish-set novels notched on my pen, er, Mohicansposterkeyboard–the very first full novel I ever began to write (aside from the pseudo-medieval I wrote when I was eleven…) was a romance set in 18th century New York, starring a beautiful heroine and a handsome Colonial guy in the midst of the French & Indian War. This was long before Last of the Mohicans was made into a movie. Alas, the market for such stories isn’t strong, and the brutality factor tends to go up when the Huron show up in that era–and soon I realized that I could write Britain and Scotland too, and off I went. That novel is still somewhere in my digital files, and now and then I open up the file and murmur, Hey, not too bad….   

Back to Monticello. This summer, I couldn’t make it to Fort Ticonderoga, one of my favorite spots for feeding my secret craving for early American history–but I did get to Monticello. And what better time to visit the home of the main writer of the Declaration of Independence than now, when the core values of our American foundation are in the forefront of the news (but I digress, and I’ll be well-behaved and not get on that soapbox just now). 

Official_Presidential_portrait_of_Thomas_Jefferson_(by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800)"You shall find with me a room, a bed and plate and a hearty welcome." Thomas Jefferson to James Madison

What I noticed particularly this visit, while the rain sluiced down the tall antique windows, where the old glass afforded a slightly wobbly view of soggy gardens and soggier visitors–were the features of the house, its stunning architecture, the ingenious touches and careful choices that Thomas Jefferson made with an eye for aesthetics as well as comfort and convenience. He preferred simplicity in the elegance and beauty of his home, and found ways to economize space, tucking beds into alcoves, something he had seen in France and which reminded me of the box beds often found in Scotland; he claimed storage space inside walls, adding clothing racks at the foot of beds or in niches high in the walls above the living spaces. He had a skylight added to one of the rooms to let in more light pouring down from a ceiling, brightening a northern room; and the northern dining room, generally in gray light, he had painted a bright golden yellow, a bold modern choice for that day, to bring light and a sense of warmth and welcome to the room. (portrait: Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale)

32141123.thbIn a sense, Monticello was the Smart House of its day. The tall glass-pane double doors leading from the entrance hall into the parlor magically close on their own, thanks to a hidden chain that, as one door is pulled shut, brings the other closed. Inside the narrow ends of the dining room fireplace, a hidden pulley provides a small dumbwaiter, allowing Jefferson and his guests to send down an empty bottle of wine and have another sent up, chilled, from the cellars. Double windows, separated by several inches to sandwich air between them, insulated the main rooms, preserving temperature inside. A clock over the front door is hung with cannonball weights that descend to count out the days—although there was room only for six, not seven, days. Another clock, hung at the foot of his alcove bed, woke him every morning before dawn and was the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes—the equivalent of keeping a cell phone beside the bed, one imagines. And to protect his eyes, he wore green-glass spectacles while outside walking or riding for hours each day. (Image rIghts being what they are, please follow this link to see all that's displayed at Monticello and enjoy! www.monticello.org)

23097676.thbThe inventions and ingenious touches continue through the house, including the room that Jefferson called his cabinet, which we might call a study. Here he had his favorite chair in red leather that rotated to allow him to shift (an idea he got from one of George Washington’s chairs)—and a copying machine with two pens on a mechanical armature, allowing him to make copies of the nearly 20,000 letters he wrote in his many years at Monticello. His library, just off his cabinet room, contains some of the many thousands of books he collected, beautiful, aged volumes in arched bookshelf niches.Beside his desk there is a most ingenious bookstand with hinged supports for up to five books at a time, which Jefferson could spin at will to read and consult several books at once — the equivalent of keeping several files open on the computer today. 

After the War of 1812, when the British had burned Washington D.C., including the book belonging to the Congress, Jefferson sold nearly 7,000 of his personal collection—everything from the ancient philosophers to Shakespeare to books on agriculture—for about $23,000, earning some much-needed funds (he was often in debt due to the constant needs of the Monticello farm, a large-scale plantation of 5,000 acres where tobacco, wheat and vineyards were grown for crops and wine production). In selling his books, the foundation collection of the Library of Congress was created.  

"Books are indeed with me a necessary of life." Thomas Jefferson, 1819

Trumbull dec indJefferson was a brilliant man, a genius of rare sort, constantly writing and creating and inventing, constantly curious, a man of philosophy, letters, and heart. He lived through a series of tragedies, including the early death of his beloved wife Martha after only ten years of marriage, and the deaths, one after the other, of most of their young children. His joys at Monticello were often centered on his grown daughters and their children—he was close to his many grandchildren, several of whom lived at Monticello. Even the famous dome that tops the magnificent building housed, for a while, not a grand ballroom or an elegant gathering room, but a living space where his daughter and her family had an apartment.

Houdon jefferson detThe author of the Declaration of Independence was happiest at Monticello, and it is easy to see why—it is a place of elegance and peacefulness and was filled with family, particularly his grandchildren. Yes, he had enslaved people on his plantation and as servants in his home, and though it was utterly within the context of that place and time, he agonized over the questions of slavery, “a political and moral depravity,” as he called it. Although he kept well over a hundred slaves on his property, he treated them well and had respect for their various talents and abilities. Ultimately he set free each of his own six children born of the enslaved and beautiful Sally Hemings; their children acquired some education and skill training, and married white spouses, stepping out of slavery, though the family claims to Jefferson would not be firmly established for hundreds of years. But the issues of enslaved persons at Monticello were always on Jefferson’s mind and conscience.

Thanks to the work of the Monticello Foundation, we can still enjoy his beautiful home today in a way that is similar to what Jefferson saw every day before his death on July 4, 1826 (yes – July 4, and John Adams died the same day!), in that same alcove bed where Jefferson saw the clock each morning. He created not only the Declaration of Independence, a document of stunning insight and foresight—he also left a huge body of writing in letters and essays. And he is a most quotable man. "I cannot live without books," he wrote to John Adams in 1815 – a sentiment that speaks to many, many people, and closes the gap in the centuries for a moment.

And then there is the gift shop, topping off a wonderful rainy day at Monticello—where I collected some lovely treasures, including a beautiful china bowl, a stack of scrumptious new history books, and a few other things to remind me of a great summer day well spent, and a great man to be admired and studied.

Have you visited some great historical sites in America this summer? Do you read American history, and if so, what are your favorite titles? The Wenches love to learn from you all!

Susan 

 

90 thoughts on “An Antique Smart House”

  1. America = too far/+ too expensive for me, unfortunately. I do read a lot, though, and I had a wonderful professor of early American literature, who would always teach literature in context, thus making us familiar with American history as well. Codrin Liviu Cutitaru, currently Dean of the Faculty of Letters at the “Al. I. Cuza” University, Iasi (Romania). http://englishdepartment.linguaculture.ro/index.php/ro/despre-noi/cadre-didactice/24-prof-dr-codrin-liviu-cutitaru
    Some book titles? Ok, let’s see… Blackwell Companions to American History: A Companion To Colonial America, by Daniel Vickers; then Exclusionary Empire (English Liberty Overseas, 1600-1900) and The Intellectual Construction of America (Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800), by Jack P. Greene.

    Reply
  2. America = too far/+ too expensive for me, unfortunately. I do read a lot, though, and I had a wonderful professor of early American literature, who would always teach literature in context, thus making us familiar with American history as well. Codrin Liviu Cutitaru, currently Dean of the Faculty of Letters at the “Al. I. Cuza” University, Iasi (Romania). http://englishdepartment.linguaculture.ro/index.php/ro/despre-noi/cadre-didactice/24-prof-dr-codrin-liviu-cutitaru
    Some book titles? Ok, let’s see… Blackwell Companions to American History: A Companion To Colonial America, by Daniel Vickers; then Exclusionary Empire (English Liberty Overseas, 1600-1900) and The Intellectual Construction of America (Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800), by Jack P. Greene.

    Reply
  3. America = too far/+ too expensive for me, unfortunately. I do read a lot, though, and I had a wonderful professor of early American literature, who would always teach literature in context, thus making us familiar with American history as well. Codrin Liviu Cutitaru, currently Dean of the Faculty of Letters at the “Al. I. Cuza” University, Iasi (Romania). http://englishdepartment.linguaculture.ro/index.php/ro/despre-noi/cadre-didactice/24-prof-dr-codrin-liviu-cutitaru
    Some book titles? Ok, let’s see… Blackwell Companions to American History: A Companion To Colonial America, by Daniel Vickers; then Exclusionary Empire (English Liberty Overseas, 1600-1900) and The Intellectual Construction of America (Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800), by Jack P. Greene.

    Reply
  4. America = too far/+ too expensive for me, unfortunately. I do read a lot, though, and I had a wonderful professor of early American literature, who would always teach literature in context, thus making us familiar with American history as well. Codrin Liviu Cutitaru, currently Dean of the Faculty of Letters at the “Al. I. Cuza” University, Iasi (Romania). http://englishdepartment.linguaculture.ro/index.php/ro/despre-noi/cadre-didactice/24-prof-dr-codrin-liviu-cutitaru
    Some book titles? Ok, let’s see… Blackwell Companions to American History: A Companion To Colonial America, by Daniel Vickers; then Exclusionary Empire (English Liberty Overseas, 1600-1900) and The Intellectual Construction of America (Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800), by Jack P. Greene.

    Reply
  5. America = too far/+ too expensive for me, unfortunately. I do read a lot, though, and I had a wonderful professor of early American literature, who would always teach literature in context, thus making us familiar with American history as well. Codrin Liviu Cutitaru, currently Dean of the Faculty of Letters at the “Al. I. Cuza” University, Iasi (Romania). http://englishdepartment.linguaculture.ro/index.php/ro/despre-noi/cadre-didactice/24-prof-dr-codrin-liviu-cutitaru
    Some book titles? Ok, let’s see… Blackwell Companions to American History: A Companion To Colonial America, by Daniel Vickers; then Exclusionary Empire (English Liberty Overseas, 1600-1900) and The Intellectual Construction of America (Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800), by Jack P. Greene.

    Reply
  6. While I would not want to climb on the soapbox myself, particularly on this wonderful blog, but I must disagree about Jefferson’s attitude and concern toward slavery. It’s important that we try not judge people from another time by our standards, but it’s also important not to romanticize them, either. The October 2012 issue of the Smithsonian magazine offers a darker picture of that slave owner, and let us not forget, one of the reasons our founding fathers wished to separate from Britain was to preserve slavery. There were many delegates to the Constitutional Congress who wanted to eliminate slavery in this new country, but southern planters – Jefferson included among them – wanted to hang on to their privileged way of life and won, a choice that led to tragic consequences in this nation’s history. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Monticello and there is much that I admire in Jefferson’s contribution to our nation. But I can’t pretend there was any nobility in the slave trade for anybody involved in it.

    Reply
  7. While I would not want to climb on the soapbox myself, particularly on this wonderful blog, but I must disagree about Jefferson’s attitude and concern toward slavery. It’s important that we try not judge people from another time by our standards, but it’s also important not to romanticize them, either. The October 2012 issue of the Smithsonian magazine offers a darker picture of that slave owner, and let us not forget, one of the reasons our founding fathers wished to separate from Britain was to preserve slavery. There were many delegates to the Constitutional Congress who wanted to eliminate slavery in this new country, but southern planters – Jefferson included among them – wanted to hang on to their privileged way of life and won, a choice that led to tragic consequences in this nation’s history. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Monticello and there is much that I admire in Jefferson’s contribution to our nation. But I can’t pretend there was any nobility in the slave trade for anybody involved in it.

    Reply
  8. While I would not want to climb on the soapbox myself, particularly on this wonderful blog, but I must disagree about Jefferson’s attitude and concern toward slavery. It’s important that we try not judge people from another time by our standards, but it’s also important not to romanticize them, either. The October 2012 issue of the Smithsonian magazine offers a darker picture of that slave owner, and let us not forget, one of the reasons our founding fathers wished to separate from Britain was to preserve slavery. There were many delegates to the Constitutional Congress who wanted to eliminate slavery in this new country, but southern planters – Jefferson included among them – wanted to hang on to their privileged way of life and won, a choice that led to tragic consequences in this nation’s history. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Monticello and there is much that I admire in Jefferson’s contribution to our nation. But I can’t pretend there was any nobility in the slave trade for anybody involved in it.

    Reply
  9. While I would not want to climb on the soapbox myself, particularly on this wonderful blog, but I must disagree about Jefferson’s attitude and concern toward slavery. It’s important that we try not judge people from another time by our standards, but it’s also important not to romanticize them, either. The October 2012 issue of the Smithsonian magazine offers a darker picture of that slave owner, and let us not forget, one of the reasons our founding fathers wished to separate from Britain was to preserve slavery. There were many delegates to the Constitutional Congress who wanted to eliminate slavery in this new country, but southern planters – Jefferson included among them – wanted to hang on to their privileged way of life and won, a choice that led to tragic consequences in this nation’s history. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Monticello and there is much that I admire in Jefferson’s contribution to our nation. But I can’t pretend there was any nobility in the slave trade for anybody involved in it.

    Reply
  10. While I would not want to climb on the soapbox myself, particularly on this wonderful blog, but I must disagree about Jefferson’s attitude and concern toward slavery. It’s important that we try not judge people from another time by our standards, but it’s also important not to romanticize them, either. The October 2012 issue of the Smithsonian magazine offers a darker picture of that slave owner, and let us not forget, one of the reasons our founding fathers wished to separate from Britain was to preserve slavery. There were many delegates to the Constitutional Congress who wanted to eliminate slavery in this new country, but southern planters – Jefferson included among them – wanted to hang on to their privileged way of life and won, a choice that led to tragic consequences in this nation’s history. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Monticello and there is much that I admire in Jefferson’s contribution to our nation. But I can’t pretend there was any nobility in the slave trade for anybody involved in it.

    Reply
  11. Thank you for the wonderful descriptions. I am a fan of American history and especially of the time our country was being formed. This is a terrific post.

    Reply
  12. Thank you for the wonderful descriptions. I am a fan of American history and especially of the time our country was being formed. This is a terrific post.

    Reply
  13. Thank you for the wonderful descriptions. I am a fan of American history and especially of the time our country was being formed. This is a terrific post.

    Reply
  14. Thank you for the wonderful descriptions. I am a fan of American history and especially of the time our country was being formed. This is a terrific post.

    Reply
  15. Thank you for the wonderful descriptions. I am a fan of American history and especially of the time our country was being formed. This is a terrific post.

    Reply
  16. It was a beautiful experience to see Monticello as well as Mt. Vernon.
    I was moved by David McCullough’s books as well as biographies by Doris Kearn Goodwin.

    Reply
  17. It was a beautiful experience to see Monticello as well as Mt. Vernon.
    I was moved by David McCullough’s books as well as biographies by Doris Kearn Goodwin.

    Reply
  18. It was a beautiful experience to see Monticello as well as Mt. Vernon.
    I was moved by David McCullough’s books as well as biographies by Doris Kearn Goodwin.

    Reply
  19. It was a beautiful experience to see Monticello as well as Mt. Vernon.
    I was moved by David McCullough’s books as well as biographies by Doris Kearn Goodwin.

    Reply
  20. It was a beautiful experience to see Monticello as well as Mt. Vernon.
    I was moved by David McCullough’s books as well as biographies by Doris Kearn Goodwin.

    Reply
  21. Keeping the historical perspective in play here, Jefferson was never comfortable about the issue of owning slaves – but he did it. That was the society and the reality he lived in, and his writings attest to that, so it’s not a romanticization or simplification. He wrestled with the moral dilemma of slavery and slave owning his entire life. He believed in treating his enslaved folks well and he signed the papers to free some of them. He also advertised to get others back when they slipped away (one shoemaker in particular comes to mind).
    He struggled to wrap his head around the fact that slaves and blacks were an intelligent race – the evidence was there in his household, and he saw that, but the mindset of the time denied the possibility – another question was whether freeing them was a service or disservice, if they were not able to make their way in the world beyond the plantation. He saw slave owning as a serious responsibility to the human beings on his roster, and he examined it, and himself, carefully over it.
    These issues were a personal hell for him. He wrote often about it, wrestled with it. He also believed that good owners protected their enslaved people and he tried to do that within the context.
    His attitude and conscience were better than most of his contemporaries on the matter, and he was forward thinking about mankind and freedom – but he was also very much a product and a man of his time. He tried, which is more than many did. And he certainly deserves credit for that, and for at least realizing it was wrong, though he was not able to make changes that from our perspective today seem more right than the choices he and others made then.

    Reply
  22. Keeping the historical perspective in play here, Jefferson was never comfortable about the issue of owning slaves – but he did it. That was the society and the reality he lived in, and his writings attest to that, so it’s not a romanticization or simplification. He wrestled with the moral dilemma of slavery and slave owning his entire life. He believed in treating his enslaved folks well and he signed the papers to free some of them. He also advertised to get others back when they slipped away (one shoemaker in particular comes to mind).
    He struggled to wrap his head around the fact that slaves and blacks were an intelligent race – the evidence was there in his household, and he saw that, but the mindset of the time denied the possibility – another question was whether freeing them was a service or disservice, if they were not able to make their way in the world beyond the plantation. He saw slave owning as a serious responsibility to the human beings on his roster, and he examined it, and himself, carefully over it.
    These issues were a personal hell for him. He wrote often about it, wrestled with it. He also believed that good owners protected their enslaved people and he tried to do that within the context.
    His attitude and conscience were better than most of his contemporaries on the matter, and he was forward thinking about mankind and freedom – but he was also very much a product and a man of his time. He tried, which is more than many did. And he certainly deserves credit for that, and for at least realizing it was wrong, though he was not able to make changes that from our perspective today seem more right than the choices he and others made then.

    Reply
  23. Keeping the historical perspective in play here, Jefferson was never comfortable about the issue of owning slaves – but he did it. That was the society and the reality he lived in, and his writings attest to that, so it’s not a romanticization or simplification. He wrestled with the moral dilemma of slavery and slave owning his entire life. He believed in treating his enslaved folks well and he signed the papers to free some of them. He also advertised to get others back when they slipped away (one shoemaker in particular comes to mind).
    He struggled to wrap his head around the fact that slaves and blacks were an intelligent race – the evidence was there in his household, and he saw that, but the mindset of the time denied the possibility – another question was whether freeing them was a service or disservice, if they were not able to make their way in the world beyond the plantation. He saw slave owning as a serious responsibility to the human beings on his roster, and he examined it, and himself, carefully over it.
    These issues were a personal hell for him. He wrote often about it, wrestled with it. He also believed that good owners protected their enslaved people and he tried to do that within the context.
    His attitude and conscience were better than most of his contemporaries on the matter, and he was forward thinking about mankind and freedom – but he was also very much a product and a man of his time. He tried, which is more than many did. And he certainly deserves credit for that, and for at least realizing it was wrong, though he was not able to make changes that from our perspective today seem more right than the choices he and others made then.

    Reply
  24. Keeping the historical perspective in play here, Jefferson was never comfortable about the issue of owning slaves – but he did it. That was the society and the reality he lived in, and his writings attest to that, so it’s not a romanticization or simplification. He wrestled with the moral dilemma of slavery and slave owning his entire life. He believed in treating his enslaved folks well and he signed the papers to free some of them. He also advertised to get others back when they slipped away (one shoemaker in particular comes to mind).
    He struggled to wrap his head around the fact that slaves and blacks were an intelligent race – the evidence was there in his household, and he saw that, but the mindset of the time denied the possibility – another question was whether freeing them was a service or disservice, if they were not able to make their way in the world beyond the plantation. He saw slave owning as a serious responsibility to the human beings on his roster, and he examined it, and himself, carefully over it.
    These issues were a personal hell for him. He wrote often about it, wrestled with it. He also believed that good owners protected their enslaved people and he tried to do that within the context.
    His attitude and conscience were better than most of his contemporaries on the matter, and he was forward thinking about mankind and freedom – but he was also very much a product and a man of his time. He tried, which is more than many did. And he certainly deserves credit for that, and for at least realizing it was wrong, though he was not able to make changes that from our perspective today seem more right than the choices he and others made then.

    Reply
  25. Keeping the historical perspective in play here, Jefferson was never comfortable about the issue of owning slaves – but he did it. That was the society and the reality he lived in, and his writings attest to that, so it’s not a romanticization or simplification. He wrestled with the moral dilemma of slavery and slave owning his entire life. He believed in treating his enslaved folks well and he signed the papers to free some of them. He also advertised to get others back when they slipped away (one shoemaker in particular comes to mind).
    He struggled to wrap his head around the fact that slaves and blacks were an intelligent race – the evidence was there in his household, and he saw that, but the mindset of the time denied the possibility – another question was whether freeing them was a service or disservice, if they were not able to make their way in the world beyond the plantation. He saw slave owning as a serious responsibility to the human beings on his roster, and he examined it, and himself, carefully over it.
    These issues were a personal hell for him. He wrote often about it, wrestled with it. He also believed that good owners protected their enslaved people and he tried to do that within the context.
    His attitude and conscience were better than most of his contemporaries on the matter, and he was forward thinking about mankind and freedom – but he was also very much a product and a man of his time. He tried, which is more than many did. And he certainly deserves credit for that, and for at least realizing it was wrong, though he was not able to make changes that from our perspective today seem more right than the choices he and others made then.

    Reply
  26. This is all so true, Susan. Slavery had turned up in several of my books because it was such a powerful issue of the times. My fictional characters are always against it, but the reality was far more complex, and I only have to think back to my own school days to remember how much we accept the world around us as natural order. It isn’t fair to judge our ancestors by present standards–and I’m pretty sure they would be scandalized if they had a chance to judge us and the world we’ve made!

    Reply
  27. This is all so true, Susan. Slavery had turned up in several of my books because it was such a powerful issue of the times. My fictional characters are always against it, but the reality was far more complex, and I only have to think back to my own school days to remember how much we accept the world around us as natural order. It isn’t fair to judge our ancestors by present standards–and I’m pretty sure they would be scandalized if they had a chance to judge us and the world we’ve made!

    Reply
  28. This is all so true, Susan. Slavery had turned up in several of my books because it was such a powerful issue of the times. My fictional characters are always against it, but the reality was far more complex, and I only have to think back to my own school days to remember how much we accept the world around us as natural order. It isn’t fair to judge our ancestors by present standards–and I’m pretty sure they would be scandalized if they had a chance to judge us and the world we’ve made!

    Reply
  29. This is all so true, Susan. Slavery had turned up in several of my books because it was such a powerful issue of the times. My fictional characters are always against it, but the reality was far more complex, and I only have to think back to my own school days to remember how much we accept the world around us as natural order. It isn’t fair to judge our ancestors by present standards–and I’m pretty sure they would be scandalized if they had a chance to judge us and the world we’ve made!

    Reply
  30. This is all so true, Susan. Slavery had turned up in several of my books because it was such a powerful issue of the times. My fictional characters are always against it, but the reality was far more complex, and I only have to think back to my own school days to remember how much we accept the world around us as natural order. It isn’t fair to judge our ancestors by present standards–and I’m pretty sure they would be scandalized if they had a chance to judge us and the world we’ve made!

    Reply
  31. No visits anywhere this year. BUT — I went to summer school at the University of Virginia in 1948 and 1949. Both years we went across the valley to visit with “Marse Tom.” And I took my husband there while were living in the New York City area. All visits I will never forget!
    As to books: Every year I reread 4 books by Catherine Drinker Bowen: “Yankee from Olympus,” “John Adams and the American Revolutions,” “Miracle in Philadelphia,” and “The Lion and the Throne.” A very good study about how U. S. and British common law came about. With LOTS of American history thrown in. And every year we again watch a recording of “1776” which depicts VERY clearly the mixed views of that Congress on slavery.
    Jefferson and Adams differed widely in their political views. But they both died that July 4th say that the country was still in good hands because the other was still alive. (I believe this to be true, but it may be one of your great folk tales of history.)

    Reply
  32. No visits anywhere this year. BUT — I went to summer school at the University of Virginia in 1948 and 1949. Both years we went across the valley to visit with “Marse Tom.” And I took my husband there while were living in the New York City area. All visits I will never forget!
    As to books: Every year I reread 4 books by Catherine Drinker Bowen: “Yankee from Olympus,” “John Adams and the American Revolutions,” “Miracle in Philadelphia,” and “The Lion and the Throne.” A very good study about how U. S. and British common law came about. With LOTS of American history thrown in. And every year we again watch a recording of “1776” which depicts VERY clearly the mixed views of that Congress on slavery.
    Jefferson and Adams differed widely in their political views. But they both died that July 4th say that the country was still in good hands because the other was still alive. (I believe this to be true, but it may be one of your great folk tales of history.)

    Reply
  33. No visits anywhere this year. BUT — I went to summer school at the University of Virginia in 1948 and 1949. Both years we went across the valley to visit with “Marse Tom.” And I took my husband there while were living in the New York City area. All visits I will never forget!
    As to books: Every year I reread 4 books by Catherine Drinker Bowen: “Yankee from Olympus,” “John Adams and the American Revolutions,” “Miracle in Philadelphia,” and “The Lion and the Throne.” A very good study about how U. S. and British common law came about. With LOTS of American history thrown in. And every year we again watch a recording of “1776” which depicts VERY clearly the mixed views of that Congress on slavery.
    Jefferson and Adams differed widely in their political views. But they both died that July 4th say that the country was still in good hands because the other was still alive. (I believe this to be true, but it may be one of your great folk tales of history.)

    Reply
  34. No visits anywhere this year. BUT — I went to summer school at the University of Virginia in 1948 and 1949. Both years we went across the valley to visit with “Marse Tom.” And I took my husband there while were living in the New York City area. All visits I will never forget!
    As to books: Every year I reread 4 books by Catherine Drinker Bowen: “Yankee from Olympus,” “John Adams and the American Revolutions,” “Miracle in Philadelphia,” and “The Lion and the Throne.” A very good study about how U. S. and British common law came about. With LOTS of American history thrown in. And every year we again watch a recording of “1776” which depicts VERY clearly the mixed views of that Congress on slavery.
    Jefferson and Adams differed widely in their political views. But they both died that July 4th say that the country was still in good hands because the other was still alive. (I believe this to be true, but it may be one of your great folk tales of history.)

    Reply
  35. No visits anywhere this year. BUT — I went to summer school at the University of Virginia in 1948 and 1949. Both years we went across the valley to visit with “Marse Tom.” And I took my husband there while were living in the New York City area. All visits I will never forget!
    As to books: Every year I reread 4 books by Catherine Drinker Bowen: “Yankee from Olympus,” “John Adams and the American Revolutions,” “Miracle in Philadelphia,” and “The Lion and the Throne.” A very good study about how U. S. and British common law came about. With LOTS of American history thrown in. And every year we again watch a recording of “1776” which depicts VERY clearly the mixed views of that Congress on slavery.
    Jefferson and Adams differed widely in their political views. But they both died that July 4th say that the country was still in good hands because the other was still alive. (I believe this to be true, but it may be one of your great folk tales of history.)

    Reply
  36. As you say – and I said before – we can’t really judge people from another time by our standards. But there were many of our founders who opposed slavery – Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, to name two. England was moving toward abolition. Jefferson may have been conflicted, but he was allowed the freedom to be conflicted, to choose between intent and deed. That he was conflicted but took the easier – and shall we say it, the more profitable – route, does not speak well for him. But my intention in my post was not to paint Jefferson as a villain, but to resist any depiction of slavery as less than the evil institution that it was and is. Here is the link to the magazine article I referenced, and you can make your own decision. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-dark-side-of-thomas-jefferson-35976004/?no-ist=&p=&preview=&page=1

    Reply
  37. As you say – and I said before – we can’t really judge people from another time by our standards. But there were many of our founders who opposed slavery – Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, to name two. England was moving toward abolition. Jefferson may have been conflicted, but he was allowed the freedom to be conflicted, to choose between intent and deed. That he was conflicted but took the easier – and shall we say it, the more profitable – route, does not speak well for him. But my intention in my post was not to paint Jefferson as a villain, but to resist any depiction of slavery as less than the evil institution that it was and is. Here is the link to the magazine article I referenced, and you can make your own decision. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-dark-side-of-thomas-jefferson-35976004/?no-ist=&p=&preview=&page=1

    Reply
  38. As you say – and I said before – we can’t really judge people from another time by our standards. But there were many of our founders who opposed slavery – Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, to name two. England was moving toward abolition. Jefferson may have been conflicted, but he was allowed the freedom to be conflicted, to choose between intent and deed. That he was conflicted but took the easier – and shall we say it, the more profitable – route, does not speak well for him. But my intention in my post was not to paint Jefferson as a villain, but to resist any depiction of slavery as less than the evil institution that it was and is. Here is the link to the magazine article I referenced, and you can make your own decision. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-dark-side-of-thomas-jefferson-35976004/?no-ist=&p=&preview=&page=1

    Reply
  39. As you say – and I said before – we can’t really judge people from another time by our standards. But there were many of our founders who opposed slavery – Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, to name two. England was moving toward abolition. Jefferson may have been conflicted, but he was allowed the freedom to be conflicted, to choose between intent and deed. That he was conflicted but took the easier – and shall we say it, the more profitable – route, does not speak well for him. But my intention in my post was not to paint Jefferson as a villain, but to resist any depiction of slavery as less than the evil institution that it was and is. Here is the link to the magazine article I referenced, and you can make your own decision. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-dark-side-of-thomas-jefferson-35976004/?no-ist=&p=&preview=&page=1

    Reply
  40. As you say – and I said before – we can’t really judge people from another time by our standards. But there were many of our founders who opposed slavery – Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, to name two. England was moving toward abolition. Jefferson may have been conflicted, but he was allowed the freedom to be conflicted, to choose between intent and deed. That he was conflicted but took the easier – and shall we say it, the more profitable – route, does not speak well for him. But my intention in my post was not to paint Jefferson as a villain, but to resist any depiction of slavery as less than the evil institution that it was and is. Here is the link to the magazine article I referenced, and you can make your own decision. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-dark-side-of-thomas-jefferson-35976004/?no-ist=&p=&preview=&page=1

    Reply
  41. Firstly I do miss Jo Beverley, People seem to be dropping like flies of late. I have never delved into American history although I am interested in it. I find it coincides with the European history. I like reading about the aristocracy of Europe but mainly English. It intrigues me that England or English is not a pure ethnic group. It is so intertwined with the rest of Europe there is no definitive beginning or end. I am also intrigued by the original inhabitants of the countries were treated by the so called conquerors. I.E. Australian’s, New Salamander’s, the many ethnic groups of the America’s. The mind set of the Old Country’s and the way they were treated, also the fact that the so called conqueror’s assumed they had the god given right to plunder others lands.

    Reply
  42. Firstly I do miss Jo Beverley, People seem to be dropping like flies of late. I have never delved into American history although I am interested in it. I find it coincides with the European history. I like reading about the aristocracy of Europe but mainly English. It intrigues me that England or English is not a pure ethnic group. It is so intertwined with the rest of Europe there is no definitive beginning or end. I am also intrigued by the original inhabitants of the countries were treated by the so called conquerors. I.E. Australian’s, New Salamander’s, the many ethnic groups of the America’s. The mind set of the Old Country’s and the way they were treated, also the fact that the so called conqueror’s assumed they had the god given right to plunder others lands.

    Reply
  43. Firstly I do miss Jo Beverley, People seem to be dropping like flies of late. I have never delved into American history although I am interested in it. I find it coincides with the European history. I like reading about the aristocracy of Europe but mainly English. It intrigues me that England or English is not a pure ethnic group. It is so intertwined with the rest of Europe there is no definitive beginning or end. I am also intrigued by the original inhabitants of the countries were treated by the so called conquerors. I.E. Australian’s, New Salamander’s, the many ethnic groups of the America’s. The mind set of the Old Country’s and the way they were treated, also the fact that the so called conqueror’s assumed they had the god given right to plunder others lands.

    Reply
  44. Firstly I do miss Jo Beverley, People seem to be dropping like flies of late. I have never delved into American history although I am interested in it. I find it coincides with the European history. I like reading about the aristocracy of Europe but mainly English. It intrigues me that England or English is not a pure ethnic group. It is so intertwined with the rest of Europe there is no definitive beginning or end. I am also intrigued by the original inhabitants of the countries were treated by the so called conquerors. I.E. Australian’s, New Salamander’s, the many ethnic groups of the America’s. The mind set of the Old Country’s and the way they were treated, also the fact that the so called conqueror’s assumed they had the god given right to plunder others lands.

    Reply
  45. Firstly I do miss Jo Beverley, People seem to be dropping like flies of late. I have never delved into American history although I am interested in it. I find it coincides with the European history. I like reading about the aristocracy of Europe but mainly English. It intrigues me that England or English is not a pure ethnic group. It is so intertwined with the rest of Europe there is no definitive beginning or end. I am also intrigued by the original inhabitants of the countries were treated by the so called conquerors. I.E. Australian’s, New Salamander’s, the many ethnic groups of the America’s. The mind set of the Old Country’s and the way they were treated, also the fact that the so called conqueror’s assumed they had the god given right to plunder others lands.

    Reply
  46. Interesting discussion. A comment on slavery. Hamilton was too poor to own slaves. It was easy for him to take the moral highroad on the issue. It did not stop him from renting gangs of slaves from friends/acquaintances when he needed cheap labor. A comment on self-closing doors. I had never seen spiral door hinges until a visit to The Grove House, home of English friends in Solihull. These hinges allow the door to a room to be pushed inward and up at the same time. Unless the door is blocked open, its own weight causes the door to close as it spirals down again. Lastly, a very interesting book on American History is “Ordinary Americans” edited by Linda R. Monk. The book is a collection of first person accounts of everyday Americans about events in our history and how they felt about it from letters, diaries, autobiographical accounts and interviews.

    Reply
  47. Interesting discussion. A comment on slavery. Hamilton was too poor to own slaves. It was easy for him to take the moral highroad on the issue. It did not stop him from renting gangs of slaves from friends/acquaintances when he needed cheap labor. A comment on self-closing doors. I had never seen spiral door hinges until a visit to The Grove House, home of English friends in Solihull. These hinges allow the door to a room to be pushed inward and up at the same time. Unless the door is blocked open, its own weight causes the door to close as it spirals down again. Lastly, a very interesting book on American History is “Ordinary Americans” edited by Linda R. Monk. The book is a collection of first person accounts of everyday Americans about events in our history and how they felt about it from letters, diaries, autobiographical accounts and interviews.

    Reply
  48. Interesting discussion. A comment on slavery. Hamilton was too poor to own slaves. It was easy for him to take the moral highroad on the issue. It did not stop him from renting gangs of slaves from friends/acquaintances when he needed cheap labor. A comment on self-closing doors. I had never seen spiral door hinges until a visit to The Grove House, home of English friends in Solihull. These hinges allow the door to a room to be pushed inward and up at the same time. Unless the door is blocked open, its own weight causes the door to close as it spirals down again. Lastly, a very interesting book on American History is “Ordinary Americans” edited by Linda R. Monk. The book is a collection of first person accounts of everyday Americans about events in our history and how they felt about it from letters, diaries, autobiographical accounts and interviews.

    Reply
  49. Interesting discussion. A comment on slavery. Hamilton was too poor to own slaves. It was easy for him to take the moral highroad on the issue. It did not stop him from renting gangs of slaves from friends/acquaintances when he needed cheap labor. A comment on self-closing doors. I had never seen spiral door hinges until a visit to The Grove House, home of English friends in Solihull. These hinges allow the door to a room to be pushed inward and up at the same time. Unless the door is blocked open, its own weight causes the door to close as it spirals down again. Lastly, a very interesting book on American History is “Ordinary Americans” edited by Linda R. Monk. The book is a collection of first person accounts of everyday Americans about events in our history and how they felt about it from letters, diaries, autobiographical accounts and interviews.

    Reply
  50. Interesting discussion. A comment on slavery. Hamilton was too poor to own slaves. It was easy for him to take the moral highroad on the issue. It did not stop him from renting gangs of slaves from friends/acquaintances when he needed cheap labor. A comment on self-closing doors. I had never seen spiral door hinges until a visit to The Grove House, home of English friends in Solihull. These hinges allow the door to a room to be pushed inward and up at the same time. Unless the door is blocked open, its own weight causes the door to close as it spirals down again. Lastly, a very interesting book on American History is “Ordinary Americans” edited by Linda R. Monk. The book is a collection of first person accounts of everyday Americans about events in our history and how they felt about it from letters, diaries, autobiographical accounts and interviews.

    Reply
  51. Something to chew on: What if Jefferson’s conscience had bothered him enough to have married Sally Hemings, who I seem to recall was half-sister to his deceased wife? Yes, I know, miscegenation and all that, but it’s just a thought experiment. It boggles the mind to think how that might have changed the course of American history.

    Reply
  52. Something to chew on: What if Jefferson’s conscience had bothered him enough to have married Sally Hemings, who I seem to recall was half-sister to his deceased wife? Yes, I know, miscegenation and all that, but it’s just a thought experiment. It boggles the mind to think how that might have changed the course of American history.

    Reply
  53. Something to chew on: What if Jefferson’s conscience had bothered him enough to have married Sally Hemings, who I seem to recall was half-sister to his deceased wife? Yes, I know, miscegenation and all that, but it’s just a thought experiment. It boggles the mind to think how that might have changed the course of American history.

    Reply
  54. Something to chew on: What if Jefferson’s conscience had bothered him enough to have married Sally Hemings, who I seem to recall was half-sister to his deceased wife? Yes, I know, miscegenation and all that, but it’s just a thought experiment. It boggles the mind to think how that might have changed the course of American history.

    Reply
  55. Something to chew on: What if Jefferson’s conscience had bothered him enough to have married Sally Hemings, who I seem to recall was half-sister to his deceased wife? Yes, I know, miscegenation and all that, but it’s just a thought experiment. It boggles the mind to think how that might have changed the course of American history.

    Reply
  56. I don’t know much about American history. We didn’t do any of it really in school and as I left school early probably missed out on what was to offer. However, slavery aside, this man sounds fascinating!! He had a great mind. Would like to know more about him. Enjoyable post.

    Reply
  57. I don’t know much about American history. We didn’t do any of it really in school and as I left school early probably missed out on what was to offer. However, slavery aside, this man sounds fascinating!! He had a great mind. Would like to know more about him. Enjoyable post.

    Reply
  58. I don’t know much about American history. We didn’t do any of it really in school and as I left school early probably missed out on what was to offer. However, slavery aside, this man sounds fascinating!! He had a great mind. Would like to know more about him. Enjoyable post.

    Reply
  59. I don’t know much about American history. We didn’t do any of it really in school and as I left school early probably missed out on what was to offer. However, slavery aside, this man sounds fascinating!! He had a great mind. Would like to know more about him. Enjoyable post.

    Reply
  60. I don’t know much about American history. We didn’t do any of it really in school and as I left school early probably missed out on what was to offer. However, slavery aside, this man sounds fascinating!! He had a great mind. Would like to know more about him. Enjoyable post.

    Reply
  61. I didn’t have the opportunity to study American history in school either, Teresa, but interestingly my husband actually did an O level in it and it engendered a lifelong interest for him. I do remember studying the US presidential elections in General Studies and that was very interesting. I wish we’d had the opportunity to do more but at least it has left plenty of scope for my reading!

    Reply
  62. I didn’t have the opportunity to study American history in school either, Teresa, but interestingly my husband actually did an O level in it and it engendered a lifelong interest for him. I do remember studying the US presidential elections in General Studies and that was very interesting. I wish we’d had the opportunity to do more but at least it has left plenty of scope for my reading!

    Reply
  63. I didn’t have the opportunity to study American history in school either, Teresa, but interestingly my husband actually did an O level in it and it engendered a lifelong interest for him. I do remember studying the US presidential elections in General Studies and that was very interesting. I wish we’d had the opportunity to do more but at least it has left plenty of scope for my reading!

    Reply
  64. I didn’t have the opportunity to study American history in school either, Teresa, but interestingly my husband actually did an O level in it and it engendered a lifelong interest for him. I do remember studying the US presidential elections in General Studies and that was very interesting. I wish we’d had the opportunity to do more but at least it has left plenty of scope for my reading!

    Reply
  65. I didn’t have the opportunity to study American history in school either, Teresa, but interestingly my husband actually did an O level in it and it engendered a lifelong interest for him. I do remember studying the US presidential elections in General Studies and that was very interesting. I wish we’d had the opportunity to do more but at least it has left plenty of scope for my reading!

    Reply
  66. “Ordinary Americans” sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads up. I see it on Amazon – but no kindle edition (boo hoo).

    Reply
  67. “Ordinary Americans” sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads up. I see it on Amazon – but no kindle edition (boo hoo).

    Reply
  68. “Ordinary Americans” sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads up. I see it on Amazon – but no kindle edition (boo hoo).

    Reply
  69. “Ordinary Americans” sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads up. I see it on Amazon – but no kindle edition (boo hoo).

    Reply
  70. “Ordinary Americans” sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads up. I see it on Amazon – but no kindle edition (boo hoo).

    Reply
  71. Why wasn’t American history in the curriculum? I find it rather odd. We’ve always had a rather… global approach on history here (even before 1989). We have never had a subject called ‘American history’, but – as a pupil – I studied the world’s history in middle school. Ancient history in the 5th grade (when I was 11), the Middle Ages + Renaissance in the 6th grade (age 12), modern and contemporary history in the 7th grade (age 13), and finally Romanian history in the 8th grade (age 14). (Then we would focus further on Romanian history in high school.) And, of course, as a University student I had a subject called English Culture and Civilisation, dealing mostly with British history, geography, and various cultural aspects, but not neglecting the American history, which was later touched upon by Mr Cutitaru in his class on early American literature.
    I thought it was normal to know at least a couple of things about the world’s history (and America is clearly too large to be omitted!), but now I’m beginning to think our students are lucky. Well, some of them still choose not to learn anything, but at least they’re given the opportunity to learn.

    Reply
  72. Why wasn’t American history in the curriculum? I find it rather odd. We’ve always had a rather… global approach on history here (even before 1989). We have never had a subject called ‘American history’, but – as a pupil – I studied the world’s history in middle school. Ancient history in the 5th grade (when I was 11), the Middle Ages + Renaissance in the 6th grade (age 12), modern and contemporary history in the 7th grade (age 13), and finally Romanian history in the 8th grade (age 14). (Then we would focus further on Romanian history in high school.) And, of course, as a University student I had a subject called English Culture and Civilisation, dealing mostly with British history, geography, and various cultural aspects, but not neglecting the American history, which was later touched upon by Mr Cutitaru in his class on early American literature.
    I thought it was normal to know at least a couple of things about the world’s history (and America is clearly too large to be omitted!), but now I’m beginning to think our students are lucky. Well, some of them still choose not to learn anything, but at least they’re given the opportunity to learn.

    Reply
  73. Why wasn’t American history in the curriculum? I find it rather odd. We’ve always had a rather… global approach on history here (even before 1989). We have never had a subject called ‘American history’, but – as a pupil – I studied the world’s history in middle school. Ancient history in the 5th grade (when I was 11), the Middle Ages + Renaissance in the 6th grade (age 12), modern and contemporary history in the 7th grade (age 13), and finally Romanian history in the 8th grade (age 14). (Then we would focus further on Romanian history in high school.) And, of course, as a University student I had a subject called English Culture and Civilisation, dealing mostly with British history, geography, and various cultural aspects, but not neglecting the American history, which was later touched upon by Mr Cutitaru in his class on early American literature.
    I thought it was normal to know at least a couple of things about the world’s history (and America is clearly too large to be omitted!), but now I’m beginning to think our students are lucky. Well, some of them still choose not to learn anything, but at least they’re given the opportunity to learn.

    Reply
  74. Why wasn’t American history in the curriculum? I find it rather odd. We’ve always had a rather… global approach on history here (even before 1989). We have never had a subject called ‘American history’, but – as a pupil – I studied the world’s history in middle school. Ancient history in the 5th grade (when I was 11), the Middle Ages + Renaissance in the 6th grade (age 12), modern and contemporary history in the 7th grade (age 13), and finally Romanian history in the 8th grade (age 14). (Then we would focus further on Romanian history in high school.) And, of course, as a University student I had a subject called English Culture and Civilisation, dealing mostly with British history, geography, and various cultural aspects, but not neglecting the American history, which was later touched upon by Mr Cutitaru in his class on early American literature.
    I thought it was normal to know at least a couple of things about the world’s history (and America is clearly too large to be omitted!), but now I’m beginning to think our students are lucky. Well, some of them still choose not to learn anything, but at least they’re given the opportunity to learn.

    Reply
  75. Why wasn’t American history in the curriculum? I find it rather odd. We’ve always had a rather… global approach on history here (even before 1989). We have never had a subject called ‘American history’, but – as a pupil – I studied the world’s history in middle school. Ancient history in the 5th grade (when I was 11), the Middle Ages + Renaissance in the 6th grade (age 12), modern and contemporary history in the 7th grade (age 13), and finally Romanian history in the 8th grade (age 14). (Then we would focus further on Romanian history in high school.) And, of course, as a University student I had a subject called English Culture and Civilisation, dealing mostly with British history, geography, and various cultural aspects, but not neglecting the American history, which was later touched upon by Mr Cutitaru in his class on early American literature.
    I thought it was normal to know at least a couple of things about the world’s history (and America is clearly too large to be omitted!), but now I’m beginning to think our students are lucky. Well, some of them still choose not to learn anything, but at least they’re given the opportunity to learn.

    Reply
  76. I visited Monticello, and our guide there was the one who made me realize it is pronounced ‘Montichello” NOT “Montisello” with an ‘s’ sound. It was many years ago and the guide never touched on the issue of slavery. But I too found it hard to reconcile the horror of that with all of Jefferson’s positive contributions. He was always in debt, and I’m sure that’s why he felt he couldn’t afford to free them. I wonder if that debt was due to his donations towards the cause of American independence, or perhaps his collecting enthusiasms(books, wine, etc.) But he gets zero points from me for “wrestling” with the issue. Aside from a few individuals, including 2 of his children, his slaves(130 of them) were sold after his death to pay his debts. In contrast, George Washington freed all his slaves in his will.
    That being said, I remember all the ingenious devices that were built into the house. I thought the house itself was rather modest and compact, compared to European mansions. I was struck by the coincidence of him and John Adams both dying exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you also had a chance to visit the University of Virginia down in the city of Charlottesville. It’s quite interesting, and Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room on the quad is preserved exactly as it was when he lived there. Jefferson was the founder of U. of V. and the architect of some of its buildings, and if I remember correctly, the undulating brick wall around the original campus. Monticello is in a spot up on the mountain where he could look down and view the University and the town.

    Reply
  77. I visited Monticello, and our guide there was the one who made me realize it is pronounced ‘Montichello” NOT “Montisello” with an ‘s’ sound. It was many years ago and the guide never touched on the issue of slavery. But I too found it hard to reconcile the horror of that with all of Jefferson’s positive contributions. He was always in debt, and I’m sure that’s why he felt he couldn’t afford to free them. I wonder if that debt was due to his donations towards the cause of American independence, or perhaps his collecting enthusiasms(books, wine, etc.) But he gets zero points from me for “wrestling” with the issue. Aside from a few individuals, including 2 of his children, his slaves(130 of them) were sold after his death to pay his debts. In contrast, George Washington freed all his slaves in his will.
    That being said, I remember all the ingenious devices that were built into the house. I thought the house itself was rather modest and compact, compared to European mansions. I was struck by the coincidence of him and John Adams both dying exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you also had a chance to visit the University of Virginia down in the city of Charlottesville. It’s quite interesting, and Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room on the quad is preserved exactly as it was when he lived there. Jefferson was the founder of U. of V. and the architect of some of its buildings, and if I remember correctly, the undulating brick wall around the original campus. Monticello is in a spot up on the mountain where he could look down and view the University and the town.

    Reply
  78. I visited Monticello, and our guide there was the one who made me realize it is pronounced ‘Montichello” NOT “Montisello” with an ‘s’ sound. It was many years ago and the guide never touched on the issue of slavery. But I too found it hard to reconcile the horror of that with all of Jefferson’s positive contributions. He was always in debt, and I’m sure that’s why he felt he couldn’t afford to free them. I wonder if that debt was due to his donations towards the cause of American independence, or perhaps his collecting enthusiasms(books, wine, etc.) But he gets zero points from me for “wrestling” with the issue. Aside from a few individuals, including 2 of his children, his slaves(130 of them) were sold after his death to pay his debts. In contrast, George Washington freed all his slaves in his will.
    That being said, I remember all the ingenious devices that were built into the house. I thought the house itself was rather modest and compact, compared to European mansions. I was struck by the coincidence of him and John Adams both dying exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you also had a chance to visit the University of Virginia down in the city of Charlottesville. It’s quite interesting, and Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room on the quad is preserved exactly as it was when he lived there. Jefferson was the founder of U. of V. and the architect of some of its buildings, and if I remember correctly, the undulating brick wall around the original campus. Monticello is in a spot up on the mountain where he could look down and view the University and the town.

    Reply
  79. I visited Monticello, and our guide there was the one who made me realize it is pronounced ‘Montichello” NOT “Montisello” with an ‘s’ sound. It was many years ago and the guide never touched on the issue of slavery. But I too found it hard to reconcile the horror of that with all of Jefferson’s positive contributions. He was always in debt, and I’m sure that’s why he felt he couldn’t afford to free them. I wonder if that debt was due to his donations towards the cause of American independence, or perhaps his collecting enthusiasms(books, wine, etc.) But he gets zero points from me for “wrestling” with the issue. Aside from a few individuals, including 2 of his children, his slaves(130 of them) were sold after his death to pay his debts. In contrast, George Washington freed all his slaves in his will.
    That being said, I remember all the ingenious devices that were built into the house. I thought the house itself was rather modest and compact, compared to European mansions. I was struck by the coincidence of him and John Adams both dying exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you also had a chance to visit the University of Virginia down in the city of Charlottesville. It’s quite interesting, and Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room on the quad is preserved exactly as it was when he lived there. Jefferson was the founder of U. of V. and the architect of some of its buildings, and if I remember correctly, the undulating brick wall around the original campus. Monticello is in a spot up on the mountain where he could look down and view the University and the town.

    Reply
  80. I visited Monticello, and our guide there was the one who made me realize it is pronounced ‘Montichello” NOT “Montisello” with an ‘s’ sound. It was many years ago and the guide never touched on the issue of slavery. But I too found it hard to reconcile the horror of that with all of Jefferson’s positive contributions. He was always in debt, and I’m sure that’s why he felt he couldn’t afford to free them. I wonder if that debt was due to his donations towards the cause of American independence, or perhaps his collecting enthusiasms(books, wine, etc.) But he gets zero points from me for “wrestling” with the issue. Aside from a few individuals, including 2 of his children, his slaves(130 of them) were sold after his death to pay his debts. In contrast, George Washington freed all his slaves in his will.
    That being said, I remember all the ingenious devices that were built into the house. I thought the house itself was rather modest and compact, compared to European mansions. I was struck by the coincidence of him and John Adams both dying exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you also had a chance to visit the University of Virginia down in the city of Charlottesville. It’s quite interesting, and Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room on the quad is preserved exactly as it was when he lived there. Jefferson was the founder of U. of V. and the architect of some of its buildings, and if I remember correctly, the undulating brick wall around the original campus. Monticello is in a spot up on the mountain where he could look down and view the University and the town.

    Reply
  81. “This was long before Last of the Mohicans was made into a movie. Alas, the market for such stories isn’t strong”
    Such a pity when there are BRILLIANT books by authors like Pamela Clare out there.
    I am not American (so haven’t been visiting any sites!), but always loved this period of history. I don’t think romance always has to be tame and war-free (after all, the Regency had Napoleon). People fall in love in wartime too, and it can make for a dramatic and memorable book.

    Reply
  82. “This was long before Last of the Mohicans was made into a movie. Alas, the market for such stories isn’t strong”
    Such a pity when there are BRILLIANT books by authors like Pamela Clare out there.
    I am not American (so haven’t been visiting any sites!), but always loved this period of history. I don’t think romance always has to be tame and war-free (after all, the Regency had Napoleon). People fall in love in wartime too, and it can make for a dramatic and memorable book.

    Reply
  83. “This was long before Last of the Mohicans was made into a movie. Alas, the market for such stories isn’t strong”
    Such a pity when there are BRILLIANT books by authors like Pamela Clare out there.
    I am not American (so haven’t been visiting any sites!), but always loved this period of history. I don’t think romance always has to be tame and war-free (after all, the Regency had Napoleon). People fall in love in wartime too, and it can make for a dramatic and memorable book.

    Reply
  84. “This was long before Last of the Mohicans was made into a movie. Alas, the market for such stories isn’t strong”
    Such a pity when there are BRILLIANT books by authors like Pamela Clare out there.
    I am not American (so haven’t been visiting any sites!), but always loved this period of history. I don’t think romance always has to be tame and war-free (after all, the Regency had Napoleon). People fall in love in wartime too, and it can make for a dramatic and memorable book.

    Reply
  85. “This was long before Last of the Mohicans was made into a movie. Alas, the market for such stories isn’t strong”
    Such a pity when there are BRILLIANT books by authors like Pamela Clare out there.
    I am not American (so haven’t been visiting any sites!), but always loved this period of history. I don’t think romance always has to be tame and war-free (after all, the Regency had Napoleon). People fall in love in wartime too, and it can make for a dramatic and memorable book.

    Reply

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