I recently visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s homestead. It was incredible. I have rarely been to a place that has inspired me so much, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
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Growing up, my favorite founding father (everyone had a favorite founding father, right?) was always Ben Franklin. Let’s face it, he had the best marketing. But after watching HBO’s John Adams mini-series (I can not recommend this enough, it will make you want to be a better American), I really started groovin on Jefferson. I loved the shots of him at Monticello, writing to Adams about how much he loved his home. I needed to see this place.
I knew Jefferson was a lawyer, a politician, and a writer. But I never knew what a Renaissance man he was. He was an architect (designed Monticello and the University of Virginia), a meteorologist (possibly the first in America), a musician, a zoologist, a botanist, an inventor, and a gadget guy. Monticello is now a museum and all of these aspects of his life are on display there.
Mastodon bones, given to him by Lewis and Clark, are on display (the man had dinosaur bones in his house). He has a giant 7 day clock, which he designed, that requires cannon balls as counter weights. He has a wine bottle dumb waiter hidden in the dining room fireplace. He used a polygraph to duplicate every letter he wrote. He invented automatic closing/opening doors. He invented double pane storm windows. He surrounded himself with books and art.
This place made me want to be better.