Monticello in 2012

Thorough 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 for political and religious freedom.
On the other side, stood Jefferson, who died acknowledging the abomination of slavery, but leaving to the next generation the duty to abolish it; Jefferson 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.
The Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was shot is located on Mulberry Street; when I passed a group of young African American leaving Mulberry Row, I wished for a time warp.
What would Thomas Jefferson’s words be to these 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 Monticello.  
%d bloggers like this: