Topic: Slavery


Life in Slavery at Monticello

In any given year, Thomas Jefferson owned about 200 slaves. Enslaved people worked in various roles around Monticello. Skilled workers built fences and barns, made nails and wove cloth. Farm workers planted, hoed, plowed and picked crops. House servants cooked meals and washed clothes. About eighty enslaved people lived and worked at Monticello. The others lived at Shadwell, Lego, Tufton and Poplar Forest, Jefferson’s farm in Bedford County.

Lesson Plan

Fire Bell in the Night

The Missouri Compromise was a difficult time in American history. The question of slavery and states’ rights came to the forefront as America and their leaders debated how to handle...
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Isaac Jefferson

This photograph shows Isaac Jefferson, a free blacksmith in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1847. Born at Monticello, he was one of ten Jefferson slaves who escaped with the British during the...

Jefferson and Slavery

About 100 slaves lived and worked at Monticello at any given time. They plowed the fields, planted the wheat, and drove the wagons. They cared for the hogs and cows. Household slaves prepared food for Thomas Jefferson and his family. They washed his clothes and cared for his children. Despite writing the words "all men are created equal," Jefferson was a life-long slave owner who held over 600 humans in bondage throughout his lifetime.

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Runaway Ad

Jefferson ran this ad offering a reward for the return of “Sandy” in “The Virginia Gazette” on September 14, 1769.  ...
Lesson Plan

Slavery and the Legacy of Thomas Jefferson

Students will critically evaluate and reflect on information concerning the life of Thomas Jefferson as a slaveholder. They will also examine slavery at Monticello and the effects of Thomas Jefferson’s...

Monticello Slaves who gained freedom

Jefferson freed two slaves in his lifetime and five in his will. Three others ran away and were not pursued. All were members of the Hemings family. The seven he officially freed had skills they could use to earn money. 

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Mulberry Row

Slave dwellings and worksites once stood along tree-lined avenue close to the main Monticello house.
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Nails excavated at Monticello

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Our Countrymen in Chains

This illustrated broadside features a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Whittier accepted enslaved people as his “countrymen.” He stressed the hypocrisy of...