What You Will See And Learn

All students learn in the classroom that Thomas Jefferson was an author of the Declaration of Independence and that as president, he orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

A tour of the Jefferson Memorial, to supplement classroom learning, offers an opportunity to humanize Jefferson and discuss why there are different standards for the presidency today. For instance, while he was an adept writer with keen foresight and brilliant intellect, Jefferson may never have held an elected office at any level today because he was a terrible orator who mumbled, slumped in his posture, and dressed very casually.

It also offers a chance to draw similarities, because Jefferson was subjected to one of the worst smear campaigns when he ran for presidency. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale University where a dormitory is named after him, stated that if Jefferson was elected, it would result in, “our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution; soberly dishonored; speciously polluted.”

A man of the Enlightenment, Jefferson had an iQ off the charts, having a wide range of talents as a horticulturist, politician, musician, philosopher, lawyer, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, and inventor. He invented several gadgets still present at his home in Monticello. At his request, Jefferson’s tombstone mentioned only three achievements, including founding the University of Virginia, but makes no mention of him having served as president due to his mixed feelings about politics.

Additional Information

Open 24 hours per day, and Park Rangers are on duty to answer questions from 9:30 A.M. to 11:30 P.M. daily, and to provide interpretive programs every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.