Thursday Night iPhone Photos – Monticello
November 1, 2012 2 Comments
About ten days ago I was at a friend’s wedding in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is the home of the University of Virginia and its well-known architect, a guy by the name of Thomas Jefferson. I visited President Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and was quite glad that I did. Sure, intellectually I knew that there was a contrast and contradiction between Jefferson’s arguments for freedom and his ownership of slaves. But it’s quite a different thing to see the material reality of the situation.
Monticello is a gorgeous estate which ran on slave labor. On the inside tour, they talk about Jefferson’s precocious reading ability and inventions, and I couldn’t help thinking about all of the slaves who were owned and worked so that Jefferson would have the luxury of time to even think about freedom. They have “Slavery at Monticello” tours, which used to be known as the “Plantation Community Tours.” And they do address Jefferson’s so-called “relationship” with Sally Hemings, but I left the tour after audience members were joking with the tour guide about the “fun” that Jefferson and Hemings had together, as if a sexual relationship with a slave could be anything other than rape. Oh, what hijinks!
So yeah, a fascinating mix of beauty and evil. I took pictures of the house and grounds, including Jefferson’s grave and an African American graveyard without tombstones.