Jefferson himself designed his famous home, Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virginia; it included automatic doors and other convenient devices invented by Jefferson. Nearby is the University of Virginia, the original architecture and curriculum of which Jefferson also designed. Frank E. Grizzard, Jr., a scholar at the University of Virginia, has written the definitive book on the original buildings, or Academical Village, at the University of Virginia.
Jefferson's interests included archaeology, a discipline then in its infancy. He has sometimes been called the "father of archaeology" in recognition of his role in developing excavation techniques. When exploring an Indian burial mound on his Virginia estate in 1784, Jefferson avoided the common practice of simply digging downwards until something turned up. Instead, he cut a wedge out of the mound, so that he could walk into it, look at the layers of occupation and draw conclusions from them.
Jefferson was also an avid wine lover and noted gourmet. During his ambassadorship to France (1784-9) he took extensive trips through French and other European wine regions and sent the best back to the White House. He is noted for the bold pronouncement "We could in the United States make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good." While there were extensive vineyards planted at Monticello, a significant portion were V. vinifera and did not survive the many vine diseases native to the Americas. Thus, Jefferson himself was never able to produce wine on par with Europe. However, it seems likely that he would be pleased with the quantity and quality of wine now being made in Virginia, to say nothing of the rest of the country.
Jefferson's idea for the United States was that of an agricultural nation of yeoman farmers, in contrast to the vision of Alexander Hamilton, who envisioned a nation of commerce and manufacturing. Jefferson was a great beliver in the uniqueness and the potential of the United States and is often classified a forefather of American Exceptionalism (see also exceptionalism).
His personal records show he owned 187 slaves. A subject of considerable controversy since Jefferson's own time was whether Jefferson was the father of any of the children of his slave Sally Hemings. A modern look at this relationship is by Shannon Fair in his book Jefferson's Children.
Jefferson's portrait appears on the U.S. $2 bill and the U.S. 5 cent piece, or nickel. Thomas Jefferson is buried on his Monticello estate. Jefferson's epitaph, written by Jefferson with an insistence that only his words and "not a word more" be inscribed, reads,
Here was buried
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
Jefferson is known for taking a strong independent stance in regards to religion. He compiled a collection of what he considered to be the most profound and meaningful passages from the New Testament Gospels of the Bible, omitting blatantly supernatural or religious sections, and published it as an independent work. This became known as the Jefferson Bible, and was later printed in some 2,500 copies for the United States Congress in the early 1900s.
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
"The government is best which governs least."
"War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses."
"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."
"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."