Thomas Jefferson's Family

Thomas Jefferson's Family


Early years

Albermarle county, where Jefferson was born, lay in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in what was then regarded as a western province of the Old Dominion. His father, Peter Jefferson, was a self-educated surveyor who amassed a tidy estate that included 60 slaves. According to family lore, Jefferson’s earliest memory was as a three-year-old boy “being carried on a pillow by a mounted slave” when the family moved from Shadwell to Tuckahoe. His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, was descended from one of the most prominent families in Virginia. She raised two sons, of whom Jefferson was the eldest, and six daughters. There is reason to believe that Jefferson’s relationship with his mother was strained, especially after his father died in 1757, because he did everything he could to escape her supervision and had almost nothing to say about her in his memoirs. He boarded with the local schoolmaster to learn his Latin and Greek until 1760, when he entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.

By all accounts he was an obsessive student, often spending 15 hours of the day with his books, 3 hours practicing his violin, and the remaining 6 hours eating and sleeping. The two chief influences on his learning were William Small, a Scottish-born teacher of mathematics and science, and George Wythe, the leading legal scholar in Virginia. From them Jefferson learned a keen appreciation of supportive mentors, a concept he later institutionalized at the University of Virginia. He read law with Wythe from 1762 to 1767, then left Williamsburg to practice, mostly representing small-scale planters from the western counties in cases involving land claims and titles. Although he handled no landmark cases and came across as a nervous and somewhat indifferent speaker before the bench, he earned a reputation as a formidable legal scholar. He was a shy and extremely serious young man.

In 1768 he made two important decisions: first, to build his own home atop an 867-foot- (264-metre-) high mountain near Shadwell that he eventually named Monticello and, second, to stand as a candidate for the House of Burgesses. These decisions nicely embodied the two competing impulses that would persist throughout his life—namely, to combine an active career in politics with periodic seclusion in his own private haven. His political timing was also impeccable, for he entered the Virginia legislature just as opposition to the taxation policies of the British Parliament was congealing. Although he made few speeches and tended to follow the lead of the Tidewater elite, his support for resolutions opposing Parliament’s authority over the colonies was resolute.

In the early 1770s his own character was also congealing. In 1772 he married Martha Wayles Skelton (Martha Jefferson), an attractive and delicate young widow whose dowry more than doubled his holdings in land and slaves. In 1774 he wrote A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which was quickly published, though without his permission, and catapulted him into visibility beyond Virginia as an early advocate of American independence from Parliament’s authority the American colonies were tied to Great Britain, he believed, only by wholly voluntary bonds of loyalty to the king.

His reputation thus enhanced, the Virginia legislature appointed him a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in the spring of 1775. He rode into Philadelphia—and into American history—on June 20, 1775, a tall (slightly above 6 feet 2 inches [1.88 metres]) and gangly young man with reddish blond hair, hazel eyes, a burnished complexion, and rock-ribbed certainty about the American cause. In retrospect, the central paradox of his life was also on display, for the man who the following year was to craft the most famous manifesto for human equality in world history arrived in an ornate carriage drawn by four handsome horses and accompanied by three slaves.


Martha Jefferson

Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson was born on October 19, 1748 O.S. at her father’s plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. At the age of 18 Martha married Bathurst Skelton, but following his death two years later, she returned to her parent’s home with her young son.

When Thomas Jefferson came courting a few years later, the 22-year-old widow had lost her firstborn son. The pair shared an interest in horseback riding, literature and music.

They were married on New Year’s Day, 1772, at the bride’s plantation home “The Forest,” near Williamsburg and then traveled back to Monticello in a late January snowstorm to begin married life. Martha quickly settled into her role helping manage the plantation. Martha and Thomas Jefferson acquired a number of enslaved individuals through Martha’s dowry and her father’s death in 1773, making Jefferson the second largest slave owner in Albemarle County.

The birth of their daughter Martha in September 1772 increased their happiness. Within 10 years the family gained five more children. Only two children lived to adulthood: Martha, called Patsy, and Mary, called Maria or Polly.

The physical strain of frequent pregnancies weakened Martha Jefferson so gravely that her husband curtailed his political activities to stay near her. He served in Virginia’s House of Delegates and as governor, but he refused an appointment by the Continental Congress as a commissioner to France. Just after New Year’s Day, 1781, a British invasion forced Martha to flee the capital in Richmond with a baby girl a few weeks old—who died in April. In June the family barely escaped an enemy raid on Monticello. She gave birth to another daughter the following May, and weakened by a difficult childbirth, her health steadily deteriorated. Jefferson wrote on May 20 that her condition was dangerous. After months of tending her devotedly, he noted in his account book for September 6, 1782 “My dear wife died this day at 11–45 A.M.”

Jefferson never brought himself to record their life together in a memoir he referred to 10 years “in unchequered happiness.” Half a century later his daughter Martha remembered his sorrow: “the violence of his emotion . . . to this day I dare not describe to myself.” For three weeks he shut himself in his room, pacing back and forth until exhausted. Slowly that first anguish spent itself. In November he agreed to serve as Minister to France, eventually taking Patsy with him in 1784 and sending for Polly later.

When Jefferson became president in 1801, he had been a widower for 19 years. He was as capable of handling social affairs as political matters. Occasionally he called on Dolley Madison and other spouses of Cabinet members for assistance. It was Patsy—now married to Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.—who appeared as White House hostess in the winter of 1802-1803, when she spent seven weeks there. She was there again in 1805–1806 and gave birth to a son named for James Madison, the first president’s grandchild born in the White House. It was Martha Randolph with her family who shared Jefferson’s retirement at Monticello until he died there in 1826.


Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson

Sally Hemings was a woman enslaved by Thomas Jefferson, inherited through his wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (October 19/30, 1748–September 6, 1782) when her father died. Sally's mother, Betty, was said to be the daughter of an enslaved African woman and a White ship captain Betty's own children were said to have been fathered by her owner, John Wayles, making Sally a half-sister of Jefferson's wife.

Fast Facts: Sally Hemings

Known For: Enslaved by Thomas Jefferson and potential mother of his children

Also Known As: Sally Hemmings (common misspelling)

Born: c. 1773 in Charles City County, Virginia

Parents: Betty Hemings and John Wayles

Died: 1835 in Charlottesville, Virginia

Children: Beverly Hemings, Harriet Hemings, Madison Hemings, Eston Hemings


Madison Hemings Family

One of the most revealing sources about the Hemings family and life at Monticello is a newspaper publication of the recollections of Madison Hemings in 1873. In it he referred many times to his father, Thomas Jefferson, and he passed this family history on to his children. His descendant Shay Banks-Young remarked, “A lot of us wouldn’t even have our history about the Hemings line if it weren’t for him.”

According to the terms of Jefferson’s will, Madison Hemings became free in 1827, at the same time as his brother Eston. They left Monticello with their mother, Sally Hemings, to live in the town of Charlottesville, where they purchased a lot and built a brick house. The brothers were both skilled woodworkers and both married free women of color. In the late 1830s, after their mother’s death, Madison and Eston Hemings and their families left Virginia for southern Ohio. From that moment their lives took different courses.

Eston Hemings lived in a town, Chillicothe, and at mid-century left Ohio for Wisconsin and passed forever into the white world. Madison and Mary McCoy Hemings raised their family on a farm and were members of the African American community throughout their lives. Most of their children remained in rural southern Ohio. Only two, their daughters Mary Ann Johnson and Ellen Roberts, left the state. Ellen and Andrew J. Roberts became “pioneers” in southern California, thriving in the urban atmosphere of Los Angeles. Their son Frederick M. Roberts was the first black member of the California legislature.

Because Ellen Hemings married a much darker man, the racial identity of her children was unambiguous. Her siblings and their descendants, however, constantly had to negotiate issues of identity because of their appearance. Madison Hemings’s sons served in white Union regiments in the Civil War, and were listed sometimes as white and sometimes as black in censuses. In each generation some family members passed for white, while others sought spouses who, like them, looked white but strongly identified with the black community. Today, as one of Madison Hemings’s descendants said, “We simply always accepted that we’re who we are. We look like the Rainbow Coalition when we get together.”


Thomas Jefferson: Life Before the Presidency

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell plantation in western Virginia. His first childhood memory, at age three, was of the fifty-mile horseback ride he took with his father's slave into the Virginia wilderness. This journey was undertaken with his family as they moved to a plantation that Jefferson's father was to manage, acting as executor of a friend's estate. Along with his parents and three siblings—three other sisters and one brother were later born to the family—Jefferson spent the next six years roaming the woods and studying his books.

Intellectual Beginnings

At age nine, Jefferson began his formal studies, boarding with a minister-teacher nine months out of the year. He continued boarding school until age sixteen, excelling in classical languages. In 1760, Jefferson enrolled at the College of William and Mary, taking classes in science, mathematics, rhetoric, philosophy, and literature. The precocious Jefferson fell under the influence of Professor William Small, who had brought the latest Enlightenment thinking to Williamsburg from his native Scotland, and dined frequently with Governor Francis Fauquier and other luminaries in the provincial capital. From 1762 to 1767, Jefferson pursued legal studies under George Wythe, who also taught John Marshall and Henry Clay, two of the most outstanding figures in American history. Under Wythe's tutelage, Jefferson emerged as perhaps the nation's best-read lawyer upon his admission to the Virginia bar in April 1767. For Jefferson, the study of law, as directed by Wythe, was more than just a means of earning a living Jefferson felt that examining legal issues enabled one to consider many aspects of society, including its history, politics, culture, institutions, and the moral conscience of its people.

During Jefferson's time, few colonial Americans could afford the quality and personal education that he received. He owed his good fortune to the financial success of his father, Peter Jefferson, a planter of some means. By the time of his death in 1757, the elder Jefferson owned 7,000 acres of land in western Virginia. He had also made a name for himself as the commander of the local militia, a talented surveyor, and a country politician. His early death, when Thomas was fourteen, caused his teenage son to look to his teachers for fatherly advice and direction. Little is known about Jefferson's mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, who died in 1776.

Law, Love, and Political Insurgency

As a young country lawyer, Jefferson practiced law on a circuit, following the meetings of the colonial court as it traveled to various district seats throughout Virginia. It was during these unsettled years that he met and fell in love with twenty-three-year-old Martha Wayles Skelton, a wealthy widow and daughter of a prominent Virginia lawyer and landowner. Her first husband and infant son had died two years earlier. Martha and Thomas married on January 1, 1772, moving into a stark one-room brick house at Jefferson's Virginia plantation, which he called Monticello. Over the years, the house would become an architectural gem designed and built by Jefferson and his slave laborers. Much of the fine furniture in the house was built by his slaves, who were highly skilled designers and craftsmen.

A member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1769 to 1774, Jefferson played an active role in the organization of the Virginia Committee of Correspondence. Colonial resentment against Britain was fomenting, and committees such as this one represented an underground group of political agitators which worked to oppose British domination of the colonies. In presenting his arguments, Jefferson wrote "Summary View of the Rights of British America" in 1774. This document propelled him into the larger spotlight. He became known as a man of immense abilities in articulating the colonial position for independence. Before long, he was known to stand with Patrick Henry as one of the leading radicals who argued that the British Parliament had no authority at all to make laws for the colonies.

Declaring Independence

When the reluctantly revolutionary Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia in 1776, Jefferson found himself appointed with four other delegates to write a declaration of independence. This group of five men was destined to lead the new nation. The other four committee members, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston, strategically deferred to Jefferson to draft the document. Jefferson's selection was based upon his powerful writing style and the fact that he represented the interests of Virginia, the most influential southern colony. Virginia's leadership in stating the colonial cause was a key in creating a united front against Britain. The respected Benjamin Franklin backed off from penning a first draft, saying that he would never write anything for others to edit. John Adams handed the task over to Jefferson, expressing his admiration of Jefferson's superior writing skills. Adams said that the young Virginian was unmatched in his eloquence and his penetrating mind. He later regretted not writing the document to his dying day.

Jefferson wrote the draft and defended it before the committee as a simple piece designed to present in plain and firm terms the "common sense" of independence. The document's structure included a statement of principles and then a list of grievances. After deleting Jefferson's biting attack on King George III for trafficking slaves and debating other issues of substance for three days, Congress approved "The Unanimous Declaration of the 13 United States of America" on July 4—the Continental Congress never officially called it the Declaration of Independence.

The document's assertion of fundamental human rights provided a compact statement of government that underlies the Republic. In Jefferson's mind, the Declaration of Independence would provide the foundation for the creation of an American society truly representative and egalitarian. Authoring this important document positioned Jefferson as one of the new nation's most important Founding Fathers—equal to Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, and John Adams.

From Beliefs to Actions: The Virginia House of Delegates Years

From 1776 to 1779, Jefferson served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, where he successfully sought to abolish entail and primogeniture, legal devices that preserved land estates and passed them on to eldest sons, exclusive of any other family members, upon the father's death. Jefferson's efforts to abolish primogeniture would strike a blow at inherited concentrations of wealth. It was a difficult fight, but he eventually prevailed.

Jefferson also helped to break the traditional link between religion and government by authoring the famous Virginia Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, which was finally passed into law thanks to the efforts of Jefferson's friend James Madison. As an avowed deist, Jefferson believed in a divine creator who had set creation in motion according to a set of natural laws that required no further intervention by a deity in the universe. For Jefferson, God was not a personal savior, and he looked upon all established religions as cultural artifacts. Accordingly, he opposed the use of religion by government as a means of granting privileges or imposing duty upon the citizenry. Jefferson argued that such a misuse enslaved the human mind and thus violated the principle of liberty upon which a democracy should rest. He also feared that religion would hinder the development of a national elite, a moral and ethical group of aristocrats who would lead the nation.

Similarly, Jefferson advocated a radical system of free public education. All white male Virginians, he argued, should be educated to literacy at lower schools while the naturally superior of mind and talent should be supported in a system of higher education. These intellectually talented men would then become the natural leaders of the nation. Jefferson asserted that the only barrier to a student's admittance to the university should be his own intellectual limits.

Governor of Virginia

During the Revolutionary War, Jefferson served two years as governor of Virginia. The governor had no veto power over legislation and was subject to the decisions of an eight-man council of state that decided policy. When the British overran much of Virginia, the administration was forced to abandon the capitol at Richmond. Jefferson fled from his home at Monticello, barely escaping capture by a British raiding party. Unfortunately, this decision became the object of public ridicule when it was portrayed as a cowardly refusal to stand his ground. The charge followed Jefferson for the rest of his public life.

Notes on Virginia

Feeling rejected, embarrassed, and desperately concerned about the health of his wife, Jefferson retired to Monticello. On November 6, 1782, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson died in childbirth. It was her sixth pregnancy. Completely shattered, Jefferson threw himself into the solitary world of his writing, penning his only book, entitled Notes on the State of Virginia. Jefferson defended his plans for freedom of religion and universal education while advocating a wide distribution of property as the only means of insuring a free and independent people. At the same time, he expressed his fears for the future of the country. Jefferson worried that after the Revolution, the passion and quest for civility and virtue in public life would be supplanted by greed as men searched for opportunities leading to individual fortune.

Thoughts on Slavery and Statehood

Included in the Notes is a discussion of slavery in which Jefferson states both his opposition to the institution and his belief in the racial inferiority of blacks. Jefferson concluded, although not with absolute certainty—because he had not studied the subject with scientific rigor—"that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind." Historians view Jefferson's reasoning as an example of how even the most brilliant of minds can fail to escape the cultural baggage and context of its age.

Virginia sent Jefferson as its representative to the Confederation Congress in 1783, where he worked to establish the decimal system as the nation's basis of measurement. More importantly, in 1784, Jefferson drafted an ordinance providing for the temporary government of western territories under congressional control. The national domain was to be divided into ten districts, and once the population of each district reached 20,000, the residents could call a convention and establish a territorial constitution and government of their own choosing. When the territorial population then reached a size equal to the smallest of the original thirteen states, the residents could petition Congress for statehood. Jefferson's original proposal included a provision prohibiting slavery in the new states, but Congress rejected this part by a vote of seven to six. In 1784, Jefferson also helped draft an ordinance for surveying and selling congressional lands though superseded by the Land Ordinance of 1785, Jefferson's ordinance established the basic framework of federal land policy. The 1784 Territorial Government Ordinance was replaced with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which did prohibit slavery in those lands organized north of the Ohio River. The ordinance also replaced Jefferson's guarantee of initial self-government with congressionally appointed governors and judges.

Representing America in France

For four years, beginning in 1785, Jefferson served as America's minister to France, a position equivalent to today's ambassador. In this post, he negotiated commercial treaties and closely observed the disorderly events leading up to the French Revolution. As a widower, Jefferson enjoyed his years in France, living there with his two daughters, Martha, age twelve, and Mary, age seven. He partook fully of French culture, intellectual salons, and the like. Upon his departure from France, he was convinced that French Enlightenment thought, as expressed by its philosophers and artists, would eventually prove the foundation for a new world order to the great benefit of all humanity.

It was also during these years that Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings began. Hemings was the daughter of his wife's father and a slave woman in his household. Fourteen years old, Sally accompanied Jefferson's daughter Mary to Europe in 1787.

While fulfilling his duties in France, Jefferson corresponded with members of the Constitutional Convention during 1787 and 1788. In particular, Jefferson communicated with James Madison about the events surrounding the creation of a new form of government. Having kept abreast of the discussions and developments, Jefferson supported the ratification of the U.S. Constitution but also strongly emphasized the need for a bill of rights, amendments to the Constitution that would safeguard basic civil liberties, such as the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, religion, the right to bear arms, and the right to have a speedy trial by a jury of one's peers.

Service under President Washington

Jefferson reluctantly agreed to serve as Washington's secretary of state in the nation's first administration, beginning in 1790. As department head, Jefferson efficiently organized government business, operating with only a handful of employees and a budget of just $10,000. He supported closer relations with France and viewed England with skepticism. At that time, England and France were at war, and Hamilton won Washington's agreement to honor a pro-British policy of neutrality rather than the treaty providing for assistance to France, which Jefferson favored. Thus, Jefferson's effectiveness in foreign policy was blunted by Washington's insistence on a more neutral stance.

Although he enjoyed Washington's complete confidence, Jefferson found that the President was increasingly influenced by Alexander Hamilton, who had been his aide during the war and in the first administration served as his secretary of treasury. As Jefferson's chief rival for the President's attention, Hamilton succeeded in swaying Washington in favor of a strong centralized government. Hamilton's successful policy agenda included federally funding state debts that were incurred during the war with England, creating a national bank, supporting commerce and manufacturing as the economic foundation of the new Republic, and using England as an economic model.


KEY TERMS

Deoxyribonucleic acid, the double-stranded, helix-shaped molecule whose sequences encode the genetic information of living organisms. DNA carries information that encodes an organism's traits.

XY CHROMOSOME:

The chromosome that determines male sex. A father passes his XY chromosome to his sons. Certain genes are located on the XY chromosome.

HAPLOTYPE:

The combination of alleles (alternative forms of the same gene) inherited from a parent.


Developing political parties

By 1793, relations between the Federalist and Republican parties worsened. When war erupted between France and Britain in 1793, the opposing views of the parties toward these nations threatened American peace. Jefferson attempted to use American neutrality. As a neutral country, the nation would support neither side during the war. By doing this he hoped to force cooperation from Britain and to improve relations between the nations of the Western world. Soon relations with France grew poor and severely damaged Jefferson's political system.

Jefferson gave up his post at the end of 1793, again determined to quit public life. But in 1796 the Republicans made him their presidential candidate against John Adams. Losing by only a slim margin, Jefferson became vice president.


Thomas Jefferson: Francophile, Oenophile, & Founding Father

Prior to America’s independence from Britain, wine consumption in the colonies was controlled by the English government. This generally meant strong wine from Portugal and Spain, like Madeira and port.

In 1785, Jefferson arrived in Paris, France, to serve as the first US Ambassador to France. Shortly after arriving, he went on an official tour of southern France that lasted three months and involved many winery tours. He stopped at wineries in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône Valley, and more. Jefferson quickly became a fan of the incredible wines made in France. In addition to being America’s first Ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson is often regarded as America’s first oenophile.

The Importance of Authentic Wine

Like somMailier Wine Club, Thomas Jefferson valued authenticity in his wine. A true wine connoisseur, Jefferson learned early on in his wine education that going directly to the winemakers was the best way to guarantee his collection was authentic since it was quite common at the time for third-party merchants to sell inauthentic wine. For example, Jefferson once ordered 252 bottles of Haut-Brion (a Bordeaux wine) that the merchant instead filled with Margaux.

At that time, bottling wine was not common and it made it more expensive. However, bottling also made it more difficult to be swindled by merchants like Jefferson had been with the Haut-Brion. Additionally, some merchants meddling with the wine. For example, sometimes they would put water or lower quality wine in the high-quality wine to “stretch it”. So, Jefferson became a proponent for wineries bottling the wine themselves.

Today, somMailier provides that authenticity and security to our wine lovers by including photos and details of the winemaker and vineyard on our wine cards that go with each shipment. We agree with Jefferson that going to the source is the best way to obtain great wine, and we are happy to have our own family, specifically Laurent’s brother Patrick, working hard for us to find these hidden gems. We also love that we are able to help our wine club members with setting up tours of Laurent and Patrick’s family members’ vineyards when they visit France!

Jefferson’s Bottles

Ironically, there has been controversy around the authenticity of what were claimed to have been a collection of Thomas Jefferson’s wines discovered in Paris.

In 1985, music publisher Hardy Rodenstock, who became famous for his ability to find old, rare wines and hold tastings, claimed to find a collection of wine in a walled-off basement in Paris. Rodenstock claimed these wines belonged to Thomas Jefferson.

All the bottles came from top-class wineries in Bordeaux and some of them had ‘Th.J’ engraved into them, which Rodenstock said meant they were part of Jefferson’s wine collection from when he lived in France.

Several of the wine bottles were auctioned off at very high prices. One bottle was auctioned off for approximately $156,000 to Christopher Forbes, son of Malcom Forbes and vice president of Forbes magazine. American businessman Bill Koch spent half a million dollars on four bottles.

While the bottle that Forbes won in the auction had been loosely authenticated, nothing confirmed that Koch’s bottles did indeed at one point in time belong to Jefferson. In their attempt to verify the history of the wine bottles, Koch’s staff approached the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello (Jefferson’s plantation in Charlottesville, Virginia). Susan Stein, Monticello’s curator, soon told them that they did not believe the bottles ever belonged to Jefferson. Evidence does suggest the wine came from the 18th century however, that does not necessarily mean that they have any connection to Jefferson.

Koch ended up suing Rodenstock, asking for $4.2 million plus punitive damages, for deceptive business practices and false advertising. They settled out of court, but Rodenstock never admitted guilt.

For more information on Jefferson’s wines, be sure to check out this article by the New Yorker or read the book The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Bad Wine

Thomas Jefferson, oenophile and Francophile, did not just keep all his wine discoveries for himself. In fact, in 1789, Jefferson shipped Sauternes, Burgundy, and Champagne to New York for the newly elected President George Washington. Jefferson also advised Adams, Madison, and Monroe on what wines they should stock the White House cellar with and serve at state dinners. Jefferson himself was also known for having dinner parties with great wine for his guests.

With somMailier, you can also give the gift of French wine with our curated gift shipments. Additionally, you can stock up your own collection for your next dinner party or event by visiting our wine cellar (Jefferson is said to have been particularly fond of Sauternes) or joining our wine club. When you order 12 or more bottles, shipping is free!

Thomas Jefferson’s Words on Wine

Jefferson is also known for keeping diaries and writing many letters, and so there are numerous quotes from him about wine. Let us know which one is your favorite in the comment section below!

Good wine is a necessity of life for me.

I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury. On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens.

Wine brightens the life and thinking of anyone.

No nation is drunken where wine is cheap, and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage.

By making this wine known to the public, I have rendered my country as great a service as if I had enabled it to pay back the national debt.

I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.

Wine from long habit has become an indispensable for my health.

Want to learn more about French wine? We’re here to help! Why not check out our French wine club? Every three months we send direct to your door three or six bottles of boutique French wines which have been carefully selected by wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas to help you really discover French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life!


The nonprofit Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest preserves Jefferson’s retreat through education, restoration, land rescue and archaeological exploration.

Poplar Forest is open daily (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) from March 15 through December 30 for docent-guided or self-guided tours. Docent-guided tours are currently offered four times daily. Masks are recommended for unvaccinated visitors while inside buildings and when social distancing is not possible. Open for Winter Weekends from mid-January to mid-March.

Designated a National Historic Landmark, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest is an award-winning historic restoration in progress, nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting Poplar Forest offers a unique opportunity to hear the stories of Jefferson's family, the free and enslaved craftsmen who built the historic masterpiece and the enslaved people who lived and labored on the plantation. Come explore the world of Thomas Jefferson at his most private retreat.

© 2021 Corporation for Jefferson's Poplar Forest.
The Corporation for Jefferson's Poplar Forest is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in the US under EIN: 54-1258296.


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