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Mount Vernon, Monticello, Williamsburg

Learning more about our nation's early years

sunny 85 °F


Fortunately our travels out of Washington were on a Sunday morning. Traffic on the 'beltway' was moderately heavy with vehicles moving along on the 8 lanes of roadway. The 'bumper-to-bumper' scene of the average weekday was prevented by our ' weekend escape'. I said to Pat, "I never dreamed that this many people would be on their way to church on a Sunday morning!".

George Washington's plantation home is fairly close to Washington, DC in Virginia. Mount Vernon, as he called it, commands a beautiful view of the Potomac River. He occupied the estate for 45 years before his death in 1799. The plantation encompassed 8,000 acres during his time and produced tobacco & whiskey for sale and had an operating grist mill on the property to grind grain. Today, it covers 500 acres. Over 300 slaves lived and worked at the plantation during Washington's time.

Thomas Jefferson's home called, 'Monticello', is located near Charlottesville, VA, about a 3 hr. drive from DC. His 5,000 acre estate was worked by over 400 slaves during his time. Jefferson is described as, "The Theorist of the American Revolution". In my opinion, Thomas Jefferson was one of the most brilliant men of his time. He believed that human reason and knowledge could improve the condition of mankind. His intellectual skills were in law, architecture, horticulture, enthusiasm for the arts, archeology, astronomy, to name a few. After retirement, he founded the University of Virginia at Charlottesville.

He and Washington spent many productive years of their lives forming (with others) and defending our infant nation. Half (33 yrs.) of Jefferson's working life was spent in politics as framer and author of the Declaration of Independence, delegate to the Virginia General Assembly, to US Congress, governor of Virginia, minister to France, Secretary of State, Vice-President, President (2 terms). This required being away for years at a time traveling (by sailing ship) to Europe representing the new USA to the various countries there. The personal sacrifice that these founding fathers made to make this new nation is incredible.

At Monticello, Jefferson & his subordinates kept meticulous records on all aspects of the plantation's operation. It is among the best-documented, best-preserved, and best-studied plantations in North America. In penning the Declaration of Independence he leaned away from the slavery issue while proclaiming, "all men are created equal". This position, he felt, was one of compromise with the more rabid positions of the delegates of NC, and SC. Without the compromise, the Declaration never would have been voted for approval. The slavery issue was a contradiction with these plantation owners who needed the enslaved to operate their farms and households. Jefferson fathered at least 4 children from one of his slaves.
On our visit to Colonial Williamsburg we learned of the 'close-knit' community of the educated 'landed gentry' of early America. The number of these 'Freedom Fighters' were an educated few like the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The patriots were the men who took up arms to fight the British taxes levied by the King. Taxation without Representation was the issue at the beginning. These early intellectuals established the foundations of self-government and individual freedom which inspired the patriots to fight for it. I could go on and on but won't............................
More to come.


Posted by dixter 06:06 Archived in USA Tagged in wa traveling virginia

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