Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, called slavery “an abominable crime,” but was a slaveholder himself. During his lifetime he owned more than 600 slaves, who worked on his Virginia plantations, including Monticello. Isaac Granger Jefferson, shown here, was the son of Monticello’s blacksmith and overseer. He was also a blacksmith.
The complex estate operations required many laborers with various skills. A new exhibition, mounted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, examines Jefferson’s dilemma and the lives of six Monticello slave families. The exhibition, Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty, features the Fossetts, Grangers, Gillettes, Hemingses, Herns and Hubbards, along with their personal artifacts: tools, games, toothbrushes, crockery and other utensils.
Jefferson allowed some slaves to earn a percentage of profits for products, and he bought vegetables they grew. He also helped educate trusted servants such as the Hemingses. Based on DNA evidence, some historians believe Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings’ children.
The portable desk used by Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence and his detailed farm records are also in the exhibition.
Read more: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/inbrief/2012/02/201202091012.html#ixzz1mGjFX91Q
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