Thomas Jefferson Wrote 20,000 Letters. Is That All?

If you’re among the few who wrote the Declaration of Independence, then sure, I’d like to see where you live. But I’m putting my foot down and not going to all of the places where George Washington slept – the man just moved around too much.

Visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia is as much perspective into how households ran in an era gone by as it is insight into a fascinating man.

Monticello Nickel

Photo courtesy of Flickr. It was raining the day I visited.

 The Declaration of Independence

Seemingly there was a committee of five who worked on the DOI, but Jefferson is given credit as its writer. Historians (Dad) speak up and clarify, please.

While the tour lauded his work on the DOI, I was more interested in the humanity of such a project. The burden and inspiration–for a man aged only 33. How many drafts were there? Did he agonize over wording and wake up in the middle of the night with just the right phrasing? Did he feel it was done when it was signed–did he think there were still a few more tweaks to make?

Well, What Else Can You Do?

Jefferson was a self-trained architect, via observation and studying books. He conceived of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. And then there was this little idea about public education. Oh, plus he held a smattering of government offices, no big deal.

Monticello weather vane

Jefferson recorded the temperature twice daily and also monitored the wind’s effect.
Still not my photos.

The Man of the House

Monticello was built, he went to Europe and saw how they do things across the pond, he returned and tore down half to re-build with what he learned. Because he could?

He also chose all of the furnishings and drapes. Would that have happened had his wife still been alive?

Conversation was encouraged at dinner, so dumbwaiters were used instead of the interruptions of servants or slaves. That’s why I don’t have servants: for lively discussion. You?

If only We Knew More…

He wrote at least 20,000 letters. We know because he rigged a gizmo that followed his own hand’s movement and copied letters as they were written. He then kept those letters. Of course he did.

The museum offered a children’s activity to write with a feather quill and ink. My inner child was all about it. Take a look at my handiwork.

quill pen at monticello

 Just your Basic Home

Shazzam. Monticello is a gorgeous place! Click the pic to advance the slideshow. Reminder: these pics are from Flickr.

3 Responses


P, your handwriting is looking suspiciously good with the quill pen. I’m sure you know what I’m thinking.


20000 letters … To the editor of Revolutionary Playlady. I love the pic with the nickle and you signing your own declaration of independence (insert Destiny Chld beat). One of my favorite plogs. Yes, we are coining the word plog. This is more than just a blog

Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I wish to put in writing like this additionally ?taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article?but what can I say?I procrastinate alot and in no way appear to get something done.

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