Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beautiful Monticello

Today, I finally visited Monticello, the former home of Thomas Jefferson near Charlottesville, Virginia. It was spectacular and lived up to all of my expectations. This is a photograph of the well-known back of the main house, which faces a large lawn bordered by flowering plants and oak trees.

I've always held a deep appreciation of Jefferson's brilliance, but exploring his home today raised it to a higher level. Jefferson designed Monticello himself and personally oversaw its construction. Inspired by his extensive reading about architecture, as well as his years living in France as an American diplomat, Monticello reflects more Roman, Greek and French architecture than the colonial style of the period. He also used the house and 3,000-acre plantation as a laboratory for his inventions and experiments. His innovations, such as doors that automatically open and a wine dummy system to transport wine from the underground cellars to the dinning room, provided efficiencies and ease of living that were before its time.

While Jefferson has his critics, due to his hypocrisy of being an advocate for Americans' freedoms yet owning at least 130 slaves at Monticello, you cannot disregard his contributions because of it. His forward-thinking  and leadership helped a fledgling nation start its journey in the world and billions of people have benefited as a result. Monticello's slavery past may represent what was disappointing about Jefferson, but Monticello as a whole illustrates his greatness.

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