Last summer, we decided to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Packing all of our suitcases into our car, we headed east toward Charlottesville, Virginia, the town nearest Jefferson’s estate. When we arrived, we walked up the hill to the Visitor’s Center where we bought tickets for the shuttle to the house. The earliest shuttle we was still an hour off, so we directed our attention to the Museum.
The museum housed many artifacts that were relevant to Jefferson and his estate. There were several blueprints preserved there, as well as extra cutlery and to-scale models of the entire grounds. It was mind-boggling, educational, and surprisingly inspirational.
However, I was itching to get up the hill to Monticello. Eventually, the bus boarded. When we stepped off of the bus the great conglomerate of tourists was herded into a line and broken into groups by the tour guides. Awe, excitement, curiosity, and longing filled me as we stood as patiently as possible, staring up at the house that we had all come to see.
We entered the foyer behind our guide, listening to the history of Jefferson, the house, and the various curiosities within. Such items included a clock with a two-story long pendulum that kept time and date amazingly accurately (one of Jefferson’s inventions), paintings of important people of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and a collection of pelts brought back from the Lewis and Clark expedition. I could hardly focus on what the guide was saying, mainly because I’d read all about all of her stories down in the museum before going up, and partly because I was so enraptured by the idea that I was standing in the same room as so many important historical figures.
Most of the other rooms faded into insignificance to my favorite rooms in Monticello. One of those was Jefferson’s bedroom-study. It held many of his most famous inventions and was the room in which he was said to have spent the most time. I could almost see the tall, ginger-haired genius working at the desk or sleeping in the European upright bed. It was an indescribable, subliminally awesome experience…until I was made aware that it was also the room in which Jefferson died on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
This fact forced a weight of sadness onto my heart as we entered the next great room, my favorite, Jefferson’s library. It was stacked and shelved to the hilt with volumes. There were comfortable-looking easy chairs made of quite expensive materials, located amid the piles of books, a perfect place to read and learn.
After we’d toured the rest of the plethora of rooms Monticello had to offer, we took to touring the grounds. We stopped by to gaze upon the fields, slave quarters, and forests upon Monticello’s property. We followed a concrete path leading to a cemetery. In the cemetery were buried Jefferson’s family and Jefferson himself. His tombstone, bearing an epitaph written by Jefferson himself, brought tears to my eyes.
The trip to Monticello changed my life in more ways than even I can imagine. It brought me one step closer to the time period in which I have always dreamt–the eighteenth century. It brought me closer to my favorite of all of this nation’s Founding Fathers, and strengthened his favorite status, Thomas Jefferson. It inspired me to become more politically active, to realize my beliefs on all different issues, and has shaped me as a social person. Without that visit, I would be less of a human being than I am presently.
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