Ten Things I learned About Mr. Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson statue at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Thomas Jefferson statue at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Thomas Jefferson was an enigmatic and somewhat controversial historical figure. While driving around Virginia last fall I learned a few things about him.

  1. He was a horticulturist and ate mostly vegetables.
  2. He abhorred the institution of slavery yet he could never abolish it.
  3. In his lifetime he owned 600 slaves. The only people he set free were his own progeny.
  4. It is said that he was a child of The Enlightenment.
  5. He wrote the words All men are created equal, but in the context of his era he probably only meant white, land-owning men.
  6. He read in seven languages. He learned Spanish by reading Don Quixote on his ocean voyage to France.
  7. When he died in 1809 he was $100,000 in debt. The family sold Monticello to pay off his debts.
  8. He never married after his wife Martha died. She made him promise never to marry again.
  9. After Martha died his relationship with Sally Hemings, a Monticello house slave, produced six children.
  10. He felt that you could stand under a tree and be bestowed its virtues.

    At the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

    At the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC

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