From Monday to Wednesday this past week we went on a little road trip. We went to Charlottesville, Virginia to visit Thomas Jefferson's beloved Monticello, and believe it or not, The Walton's Museum. They don't seem to go together, but they are surprisingly from the same neighborhood, so to speak.
I must put in print, since it's my blog, that Thomas Jefferson is not a man I admire. He wrote about equality of man, but had 200 slaves at any given time. He even gave a slave to his daughter for a wedding present. Although not proven, it may have even been her half-sister, as he may have had children with his slave, Sally Hemmings, who happened to be his wife's half-sister. But it was his parlor that bothered me. He wanted it to be educational so he had maps, paintings, fossils, and a display of Indian artifacts (can you tell a woman was not decorating his home?????) This is the President who was responsible for the Indian Removal Act. Here he has a collection of their culture, but his writings show he preferred to assimilate the Native Americans to "Western European" culture. But after the Louisana Purchase, he moved them further west. Not only that, although Andrew Jackson is credited for the "Indian Extermination Act" it was actually Thomas Jefferson that wrote it. He said that if any Indian raises it's hatchet to an American, it's tribe shall be exterminated.
Many consider him brillant. I believe him to be a hypocrit at best. And although I wouldn't call Monticello ugly, it was completely out of place on the top of a mountain. He admired Roman architecture, so he wanted the domes and octagonal rooms. But he preferred the rooms to be basically empty except for books and desks. He even had all his beds put into the walls so they didn't take up floor space. I'm not an expert, but there was no focal point in the rooms, and space for space sake doesn't make a room inviting or cozy.
We weren't permitted to take pictures inside, so I took some outside Monticello, which to me, was the spectacular part of the place:
The gardens of Monticello were something to be envied. They were large and thriving. One of the workers used a John Deere tractor to carry the day's harvest away.
This is Bill and I standing at the back of Monticello. Other than us, this is the pic on the back of the nickel. The lady in the blue tank top would not get out of the way.
This is the sweet little house Thomas Jefferson and his new bride Martha lived in for a year while Monticello was being built (for the first time, it was built and re-built for forty years). History records show as they travelled home for the first time after they were married, they were in the worst snowstorm on record. They eventually abandoned the wagon and arrived on horseback. I would have been happy to live here.
His kitchen was really state of the art for a colonial kitchen. This is his "stove." Most colonial kitchens cooked from the fireplace. He had these individual charcoal burners built for "stove-top" cooking. He sent two slaves to France to be schooled in French cooking. His kitchen was equipped with copper pots and pans, and was actually quite nice for the time period.
This pic was taken on one of the decks. It serves no other purpose other than I thought it was a decent pic of us.
Jefferson had an extensive wine cellar. He learned to love wines at a young age and had dreams of Virginia becoming a great wine-growing country. His vineyards didn't do well, but future ones have thrived.
We stopped by Cracker Barrel on the way home. A bunch of duck came from the nearby pond hoping for biscuits for their dinner. They left their thanks all over the sidewalk.