Monticello in 2012

Throughout the state of Virginia, history is waiting to be told. Every city, town, and village murmur stories of the past. The majestic ancient trees whisper secrets they witnessed from a time where the greatest and most horrific moments mixed and blended together.
Perhaps, no other place exemplifies the complexity of history and of the people who make history better than Monticello.

 

Does anyone but Thomas Jefferson, the third American president, incarnate better the shocking contrast between greatness and disputable human choices and decisions?
Although I wanted to show Monticello to my son who will be studying American History next year, entering the magnificent property made me uneasy.
On one side of the portico stood Jefferson, the man behind the Declaration of Independence, a ferocious and discriminate reader. ” I cannot live without books,” he said.  He was a Francophile who was friend with Lafayette and brought French food and lifestyle to Monticello, a passionate and relentless advocate for education – the University of Virginia is his testimony – and a man in favor of political and religious freedom.
On the other side stood Jefferson, the President who died acknowledging the abomination of slavery but leaving to the next generation the duty to abolish it. Jefferson who had a child from one of his young slaves and was the master of a 5 000 acres plantation entirely run by tireless slaves.
Their quarters, including the kitchen, the laundry room, the stables, and many more working areas, carefully built so they would not obstruct or ruin the view from the mansion, stood on Mulberry Row.
As I left the slaves’ quarters I passed a group of young African-Americans and wished for a time warp.
What would Thomas Jefferson say to these young boys and girls?
As for me, I shifted my gaze to the path leading to the African cemetery, tucked in the woods, half a mile down from the splendid mansion.

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  1. […] is the link to the posts I wrote back then. One is written in French and the other in English. I re-read them and didn’t want to alter their content since they reflect my state of mind […]

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