May 11, 2016

Monticello: Feeling sorry that I slept through history class

I must have slept through history class when I was in school for every grade. Once the teacher opened her or his mouth my eyes began to roll back in my head and then before I knew it I was sleeping.  All of those dates and wars were of no interest to me then. But now it is a different story. This time around it is personal. How?  Well, once I started tracing my family history the men on the Campbell side of my family fought in every war once they arrived here in the early 1700's.  My recent trip to Virginia opened my eyes to how much I lacked in knowledge about the history of my country.   

Monticello is a daunting place. It is a large house that sits on a hill with the Blue Ridge mountains surrounding it. President Thomas Jefferson lived here. We went on a weekday and I was surprised that it was extremely busy. The guests were herded together and every 15-20 minutes a group entered the house, one group at a time in each room.  Once inside I tried to take in as much as possible. The entry hall was large with animal heads hanging on the walls and deer skins draped over the banisters. A few sculptures were displayed on tall pedestals. The rooms off to the side were smaller, which I found to be surprising. The room that fascinated me the most was the library. The original collection of over 6,000 books were sold to the Library of Congress for around $23,000. But shortly afterwards Jefferson declared, " I cannot live without books" and another collection began.  I spotted a copy of Don Quixote tucked securely behind some glass from the original collection. Sadly his second collection was sold too in 1829 to settle some debts. (I might have to do that too if I don't stop buying so many) 

Across from the main residence was a shack. There was barely enough room inside to turn around. And yet, slaves were forced to live in cramped quarters like this. Try to imagine yourself living there.  It was here that I learned a bit more of Jefferson's private life, especially regarding Sally Hemings, his slave, with whom the former President had six children with. 

There were gardens all around the estate. Not just vegetables but flower gardens too. Jefferson took great pride in the plants that were grown around the estate and documented everything that took place. 

I brought the company bear called "Grizz"along and took pictures of our travelling companion at various places such as Williamsburg in the stocks, at William & Mary College, and Monticello. It was great fun doing this and a lot of people commented that their company did the same thing. 

They say that Virginia is for lovers.  I have to agree. There is so much to do in this state and one has basically anything they could want, there are mountains and the ocean is not far away.  I live in corn fields. The land is flat and you can see for miles. The day after I came back home I cried. The weather felt as sad (rained) as I did and cried along with me. I wanted to pack up my belongings and move right then and there. Maybe I am being dramatic or not. Does anyone out there feel like this when they come back from vacation?