Thomas Jefferson
Burial Location Visited Vice President Grave #
Charlottesville, Virginia July 12, 2005 10th Visited

Founding Father Thomas Jefferson
is interred inside the gated family
plot on his Virginia Plantation,
Monticello, in Charlottesville.

The fencing in front of Jefferson's grave bears
his coat of arms. The motto that accompanies
it, "Ab eo libertas a quo spiritus," loosely
translates as, "He who gives life gives liberty."

The self-penned epitaph carved
into Jefferson's obelisk notes his
status as father of the University
of Virginia, as well as author of
the Declaration of Independence
and the Statute of Virginia for
Religious Freedom. He omitted his
service as president, among other

Though the gate to the cemetery
was locked, at ten years old I was
small enough to slide between the
bars for this clearer photograph.

Fast Facts *

- Spouse: Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (m. 1772-1782)

- Political Party: Democratic-Republican Party

- Term: 1797-1801
- President: John Adams

- Born: April 13, 1743

- Died: July 4, 1826

- Age: 83

- Cause of Death: Heart Failure

- Last Words: "Is it the Fourth?"

Cemetery: Monticello Graveyard, Charlottesville, Virginia
- GPS Coordinates: 38°00'30.5"N 78°27'20.9"W

* * * Background on Thomas Jefferson * * *

* Thomas Jefferson had a tumultuous relationship with fellow Founding Father John Adams. At first it was cordial; a friendship burgeoned as they worked together on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In 1786, Jefferson visited Adams while the latter was stationed in London as a diplomat, and the pair often exchanged letters when they were apart. Over time, however, their friendship was diminished by their divergent political beliefs. Adams was in the rank of the Federalist Party, which favored a strong Federal Government and strong chief executive. Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans were wary of too much power being stripped from the states. Significant damage occurred in 1791 when Thomas Paine published Jefferson's criticism of essays written by Adams. Jefferson apologized to his friend for the public nature of the rebuke, but the wound could not be healed. The two remained distant even after 1796, when Adams was elected president and Jefferson his vice president. A bitter 1800 presidential campaign in which Jefferson unseated Adams further entrenched them as enemies, but they reconciled in 1812 and resumed a correspondence that lasted the rest of their lives. Both men died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration's adoption.

* Jefferson’s presidential administration was largely defined by the acquisition and sale of land. During his tenure the government increased the number of offices that sold federally-controlled land to independent farmers, which resulted in the transfer of millions of acres into private hands. Jefferson wished to expand the boundaries of the United States to the Mississippi River, which entailed contending with the native tribes who lived there. One strategy Jefferson suggested in a letter to William Henry Harrison, territorial governor of Indiana, was to encourage natives to trade on credit, which might usher them into debt and force them to cede their lands. The largest amassing of territory in the name of westward expansion came in 1803 through the purchase of Louisiana Territory, situated west of the Mississippi. The deal with France netted the U.S. an additional 827,000 square miles of land, which doubled the nation's size. Federalists assailed Jefferson, a strict constitutionalist, as hypocritical because the Constitution did not specifically grant the president the power to acquire land from foreign nations. Jefferson himself speculated a constitutional amendment might have to be ratified to permit such an enterprise, but the deal was consummated without such an undertaking. Fifteen states are partially or entirely comprised of land attained in the Louisiana Purchase.

* Jefferson's relationship with slavery was complex, if not contradictory. His initial draft of the Declaration of Independence included condemnation of the practice, though the passage was removed at the behest of delegates from Georgia and South Carolina. Jefferson also penned legislation to prohibit the slave trade in Virginia, and in his later years he decried slavery as a "hideous blot" upon the United States. Yet over the course of his lifetime he kept 607 black people as captive laborers and freed only two before his death. The most well-known of Jefferson's slaves was Sally Hemings, the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles. She arrived at Monticello as an infant in 1774 and later became a nursemaid to Jefferson's daughter, Maria. At age 14, Hemings accompanied Maria overseas to Paris, where her father was serving as minister to France. In France Hemings was legally free, but nevertheless she returned to Jefferson's plantation in 1789 to work as a household servant and maid after he promised her "extraordinary privileges." In 1802, during Jefferson's first term in the White House, newspaperman James Callender published a series of articles that alleged a sexual relationship existed between the president and Hemings. Jefferson never admitted the allegation was true, but rumors and oral histories from Hemings' descendants supported it. DNA testing conducted in 1998 concluded that Jefferson likely fathered each of Hemings' six offspring. The dynamics of this relationship remain unknown.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

Appleby, Joyce. "Thomas Jefferson." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 38-53. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

Danielle, Britni. "Sally Hemings wasn't Thomas Jefferson's mistress. She was his property." Washington Post, July 7, 2017. she-was-his-property/2017/07/06/db5844d4-625d-11e7-8adc-fea80e32bf47_story.html? noredirect=on&utm_term=.9abb120a73a1.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

Larson, Edward J. A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign. New York: Free Press, 2007.

"The Life of Sally Hemings." Accessed March 19, 2019.

McCullough, David. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

NCC Staff. "The Louisiana Purchase: Jefferson's constitutional gamble." Accessed March 20, 2019.

"President Jefferson and the Indian Nations." Accessed March 20, 2019.

"Thomas Jefferson's Attitudes Toward Slavery." Accessed March 20, 2019.

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