Visiting an old idol

Charlottesville Travel Blog

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Closer look at the main building

 

Back in the mid 90s I was discovering the internet for the very first time - mainly thanks to the brilliant invention of the Netscape Navigator. And when I was wasting a lot time searching the web I had to find something to search for. Back in those days I was not really pleased with the government and I wanted something else. I guess if I had lived 20 years before I could have joined the masses wanting a communist revolution in the world. But somehow communism had lost its appeal in the mid 90s. Hence I ended up searching for the biggest proponents of individual liberty I could find.

 

And I found them. The founding fathers of USA. They seemed to have just the ideas I liked and none of them seemed to press the case better than Thomas Jefferson.

The kitchen garden at Monticello
Then at one stage I had to find a username for some sort of webpage - well back then I had not tried to have a username before so this was new and I had to think of something fast. I ended up with tj1777 - t for Thomas, j for Jefferson and 1777 was a typo (at least I think it was a typo but maybe I had the fact mixed up) because it stands for the year of the Declaration of Independence 1776.

 

I am still fascinated by some of the fundamental ideas of the funding fathers of the individual rights compared to the government. Hence today's stop on my trip was one I had put very high on my list of things I wanted to see in this area. Actually Monticello - the home of Thomas Jefferson - was pretty much at the top of the list of things to do and see around Washington DC.

 

After all this man wrote one of the most noticeable sentences when it comes to the individual liberty:

 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The main building from the main entrance. You can not even see the dome from here.
"

 

Of course during my visit here at Monticello these words come to sound a bit hallow. Given the word men refers to men alone - and not women. And furthermore men are meant as white men alone.

 

Well I start my tour of the place and the very first thing I do is to join the slave tour of Monticello. It turns out that Jefferson did allow his slaves some freedom - they were actually allowed to have some income which they could keep to themselves. Basically they could sell some crops they were crowing on there own lands or they could get some income from their own work when they sold their services as black smith etc. to someone from outside the farm. But they would remain slaves.

 

Unlike Washington - Jefferson did not free his slaves in his last will.

The kitchen garden at Monticello
During all of his life he had about 600 slaves at different times - of these he let 9 or 11 free. Talk about your fallen hero's I guess.

 

Except from the slave issue the house is very impressive. It is actually interesting to be here after visiting Mount Vernon. Because those two places are very different. At Mount Vernon the interesting things to see were mainly outside and the different buildings surrounding the house -while the house itself were actually not all that impressive. At Monticello it is the other way around. The surrounding areas are not all that impressive but the house is quite magnificent.

 

This may actually partly be explained by the different way of success the two men had in life.

The slave quaters at Monticello
Washington started without much cash but expanded his estate slowly and ended up a wealthy man. But his lack off cash in the earlier stages of his life meant he could not expand his main building so much when he was a young man. Jefferson on the other hand started out with a lot of wealth which he had inherited from his father at 23. Hence he had the funds to build a fabulous house which could impress everyone. And so he did. But when he died he died penniless. Or actually he died leaving a huge debt behind (some one told me this happen to all the signers of the Declaration of Independence interesting faith if it is true). Hence everything had to be sold of including the slaves - and the property had to be sold of.

 

There are some interesting surrounding buildings though.

The Jefferson family graveyard.
They are just integrated into the design of the house which makes it even more interesting. The house is designed by Jefferson himself even though he did not have any formal training in architecture but the man was clearly possessed an unusual intellect hence he was able to just read books about architecture and learn enough from those to understand what he had to about architecture. Hence he designed his own dream house which also where sort of a prototype for his old age project - the University of Virginia.

dieforu says:
interesting from where ur nickname come:-)
Posted on: Aug 13, 2010
yheleen says:
haha, now i know where you got your username tj1777 ... you sure are a fan of thomas jefferson ;)
Posted on: Nov 24, 2008
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The main building of the University of Virginia

My general planning of my trip seems pretty much ok until the moment it comes to the implementation of the plan - if always seem to take just ½-1 hour longer than expected. Today has been no different from the other days and I am running a bit late after my visit to Monticello. Hence something gotta give - and it seems like missing completely out on the University of Virginia would be a shame - especially given Monticello was kind of a prototype for the much bigger university.

 

Hence I decide to give up on the Skyline drive in Shenandoah National Park. The weather is dodge anyways and it will probably be dark soon with all kind of wildlife wanting to commit suicide on my car. I head to Charlottesville instead - and I want to find a parking spot next to the university - good luck nothing anywhere close and the traffic is awful - how can there be this much traffic in such a small town? I really don't get it but traffic jams seems to be the way of life everywhere you go in the states.

 

Well I do find somewhere to double park for a short while - so I can go and have a quick look at the university before somebody is gonna tow my car away. And the buildings is in an impressive southern style - of course the university have expanded a lot compared to the original drafts of Thomas Jefferson but they have kept the expansions true to the original style designed by Jefferson.

 

But the main attraction is clearly the courtyard behind the main building of the university where the original buildings is surrounding a big grassy lawn in behind the main building. All the buildings got the traditional columns out in front of them and you can walk around with a roof carried by these columns protecting you from the rain and the sun in the area.

 

Well I better race back to my car before somebody else finds it and do something annoying to it - and then head to the interstate to get up in the northern part of the state for the night.

dieforu says:
great blog Mickey:-)
Posted on: Aug 13, 2010
Closer look at the main building
Closer look at the main building
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The main building from the main en…
The main building from the main e…
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The slave quaters at Monticello
The slave quaters at Monticello
The Jefferson family graveyard.
The Jefferson family graveyard.
The main building of the Universit…
The main building of the Universi…
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The kitchen garden at Monticello
The vines at Monticello
The vines at Monticello
The main building - including the …
The main building - including the…
The garden outside of the mainbuil…
The garden outside of the mainbui…
Stading on the porch of the main b…
Stading on the porch of the main …
The flowers and the side building …
The flowers and the side building…
The other side building
The other side building
The old house of one of the white …
The old house of one of the white…
The main building from the side
The main building from the side
The icehouse room and the side bui…
The icehouse room and the side bu…
The ice house
The ice house
The toilet in the basement
The toilet in the basement
The underground passage way at Mon…
The underground passage way at Mo…
The slave kitchen
The slave kitchen
The bed of one slave family
The bed of one slave family
The house again
The house again
The tiny little house - Thomas Jef…
The tiny little house - Thomas Je…
Closer look at the dome of the Uni…
Closer look at the dome of the Un…
The courtyard looking down the oth…
The courtyard looking down the ot…
The buildings surrounding the cour…
The buildings surrounding the cou…
Side buildings in the courtyard
Side buildings in the courtyard
The dome from inside the courtyard
The dome from inside the courtyard
Closer look at the dome - from the…
Closer look at the dome - from th…
The columns making a dry area to w…
The columns making a dry area to …
The main building from the side
The main building from the side
Church at the university
Church at the university
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
New university buildings
Charlottesville Sights & Attractions review
Monticello - home of Thomas Jefferson
Just outside the small town of Charlottesville Virginia you will find one of only three buildings made by Europeans in the USA which has made it to th… read entire review
Charlottesville
photo by: Andy99