Sample text for Saving Monticello : the Levy family's epic quest to rescue the house that Jefferson built / Marc Leepson.


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Chapter One: Stealing Monticello

I am happy no where else and in no other society, and all my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson, August 12, 1787

Description: Brick, Flemish bond two stories disguised to look as one porticos front and rear, with octagonal dome on roof. Plan complicated by additions made to original building by Jefferson after his return from France. Much fine interior woodwork.

Historic American Buildings Survey For Monticello, November 2, 1940

Thomas Jefferson, the original American Renaissance man, began clearing the land atop a small mountaintop to build the house of his dreams in 1768. He was twenty-five years old. The heavily wooded land three miles outside of Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains was part of the thousands of acres of land he had inherited in 1764 from his father, Peter Jefferson, a self-made cartographer, surveyor, landowner, and prominent citizen of Albemarle who married into one of the most powerful colonial American families, the Randolphs of Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell, his father's Albemarle County plantation. Since childhood Jefferson had dreamed of building a house on top of a nearby 560-foot mountain -- a radical idea at a time when most Virginia plantation homes were built in the low-lying, tobacco-growing Tidewater region. The name he selected for the site was "Monticello," Italian for hillock or small mountain. Jefferson designed the building based on his study of ancient -- particularly Roman -- architecture, and on the ideas of the great Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580).

Construction of Monticello began in 1769. A team of masons, carpenters, and joiners did the work. Some were white others were Jefferson's slaves (he referred to them as "servants") who lived on the site along what became known as Mulberry Row. Jefferson himself moved to the small mountain in 1770 after Shadwell burned to the ground in a fire.

Some of the bricks and nails the workers used were forged on the mountaintop. The wood and stone used for the cellars and the columns on the East front and the limestone to make mortar came from Jefferson's own extensive estates. The window glass was imported from Europe.

Jefferson spent many years fine tuning the design for the house. In 1796 he tore up his original plans, and created new ones incorporating architectural ideas he was exposed to during the four years (1784-1789) he spent in Paris, first as American trade commissioner, and later as Minister to the Court of Louis XVI. By 1809, at the end of his second term as president when he came home from Washington to live full time at Monticello, the mansion was essentially complete.

The result was a 10,660-square-foot, twenty-room Roman neoclassical building with distinctly Jeffersonian touches. "The influence was Palladian, the immediate example was French, but viewed from any possible position Monticello was Jeffersonian," said longtime Monticello curator James A. Bear, Jr. Jefferson shaped every aspect of the house, inside and out, from the window draperies to the Windsor chairs. Jefferson packed the place with an impressive art collection, a library of books that grew to nearly seven thousand volumes in seven languages, and an enormous amount of household objects and fittings.

Most of the interior furnishings came from France in a shipment of 86 crates of furniture, silverware, glassware, china, wall paper, fabrics, books, portraits and other works of art, and household goods. As Monticello's curator Susan Stein says, during his years in France, Jefferson "shopped for a lifetime."

Included in this shipment of treasures were sixty-three paintings by different artists and seven terra-cotta plaster busts by the foremost French sculptor of the day, Jean-Antoine Houdon. Jefferson's European treasure trove also contained four dozen chairs, two sofas, six mirrors, assorted tables, four marble tabletops, and four full-length mirrors. Jefferson added more to this auspicious collection -- including eighteen chairs, six mirrors, several beds and tables -- from the top craftsmen in Williamsburg, New York, Philadelphia, and London.

Jefferson crammed Monticello's rooms with artwork, sculpture, archeological specimens, musical and scientific instruments, Indian artifacts, and objets d'art of all kinds. He designed features found in few homes in eighteenth-century America: two-story high ceilings, a dome -- the first on an American house -- beds tucked in alcoves, skylights, indoor "privies," extremely narrow staircases. Other one-of-a-kind interior touches included a dumbwaiter to carry wine from the cellar to the dining room and the enormous seven-day great clock framing the door of the entrance hall.

Jefferson -- the nation's third president and the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence -- was described by the Marquis de Chastellux in 1782 as a "Musician, Draftsman, Surveyor, Astronomer, Natural Philosopher, Jurist and Statesman." Jefferson was that and much more.

He also studied botany, agriculture, forestry, viticulture, and landscape architecture. Monticello's grounds -- which have been likened to an "ornamental working farm" -- were extremely well planned. Jefferson turned the wild hardwood forest on the mountaintop into a park with broad lawns and flowerbeds, and carved out an ornamental forest he called the Grove. He divided the surrounding three hundred acres into seven fields, each of which he planted in a different crop, rotating the crops annually. They were pleasingly and practically separated with rows of peach trees, numbering in the hundreds.

He selected many more fruit and shade trees, shrubs, and other plants at Main's nursery near Washington and personally laid out the flower beds surrounding the house. He imported seeds from Italy, from the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and from the top nurseries in Virginia, Philadelphia, Washington, and South Carolina. He planted dozens of varieties of fruit trees, including peaches, apples, cherries, apricots, nectarines, quinces, plums, and pears. He cultivated Seville orange trees, which he brought indoors during the winter, and imported olive trees from Italy and southern France.

Jefferson built a thousand-foot-long, three-terraced "kitchen" vegetable garden, with twenty-four beds divided into "Fruits, Roots, and Leaves." There he grew some 250 varieties of vegetables, including beans and corn from seeds brought to him by Lewis and Clark, seventeen kinds of peas, white eggplant, and purple broccoli.

Monticello was "an artistic achievement of the first order," in the words of Jefferson scholar Merrill D. Peterson, but it was a seriously flawed achievement. All was not well when the nation's third president came to live at Monticello full time on March 15, 1809. The debts he had accumulated before becoming president in 1801 still weighed heavily. While Jefferson had managed to pay off many of his pre-Revolutionary debts to British firms out of his not-insignificant $25,000 annual presidential salary, the interest that had accumulated on the remaining debts was crippling.

Jefferson owed his creditors about $11,000 when he bid farewell to Washington, D.C., and headed home. That amount was not troubling to him, even though there was no presidential pension plan. Jefferson believed that he could easily repay what he owed from the income he would earn from his farming operations at Monticello and his other Virginia properties, which included the nearby farms of Shadwell, Tufton, and Lego in Albemarle County and Poplar Forest in Bedford County.

There was reason to be optimistic. Jefferson owned a total of some 10,000 acres, about half of it in Albemarle County and the remainder in nearby Bedford County, including his country retreat at the Poplar Forest plantation. He also owned the 157-acre Natural Bridge to the west in Rockbridge County in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Jefferson had bought that scenic property from King George III for twenty shillings in 1774. The plan was to earn money from travelers who came there to see the spectacular natural rock bridge formation. Jefferson took the first step in that direction in 1803 by building a two-room log cabin on the site. He also owned several building lots, including one in Richmond. He expected to reap further dividends from the two gristmills he owned on the Rivanna River, which he expected to produce more than a thousand dollars in income a year.

But Jefferson's financial problems worsened after he moved to Monticello. His farming operations rarely did anything but lose money due to periodic droughts, crop failures, and depressed crop prices. The mills were poorly managed and their hoped-for revenues never materialized. Jefferson's debts mounted, augmented by growing sums he owed to Charlottesville-area merchants from whom he bought everything from tea and coffee for his household to salt fish and "Negro cloth" for the more than two hundred slaves he owned.

He was also burdened financially by his generous hospitality and family responsibilities. Jefferson's wife Martha had died in 1782, but his adult children, his grandchildren, his sisters and their children, and various other relatives and friends spent long periods of time in residence at Monticello, especially after 1815. By all accounts, Jefferson was hospitable to other visitors as well, some who venerated the man, and others who sought him out for favors. They included artists and writers, traveling merchants, would-be biographers, adventurers, and the just plain curious. The list included noted figures such as Daniel Webster, the Marquis de Lafayette, James Madison, and Jefferson's Albemarle County neighbor, James Monroe. The well-heeled came with horses, servants, and family members. Sometimes he found himself hosting as many as fifty guests at a time.

The domestic manager of the sprawling household during Jefferson's post-presidency retirement was his eldest daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, whom Jefferson called "Patsy." Martha had joined the household in 1809, with her children and her husband, Col. Thomas Mann Randolph -- a notoriously inept businessman who was constantly in financial straits. There she continued her role as hostess and female household head that she had begun in Washington.

Jefferson's financial situation deteriorated further after the War of 1812. His expenses continued to outstrip his income and he was forced to take on additional loans, while continuing to make interest payments. In 1815, his farming operations were particularly hard hit by a severe drought. That spring, Jefferson turned the management of his Albemarle County farms over to Thomas Jefferson Randolph, his eldest and favorite grandson. By all accounts Jeff Randolph was trustworthy and extremely competent in business matters, especially compared to his dissolute father.

But even with the good management of his grandson, Jefferson's financial woes continued. He experienced some relief in 1815 when Congress, after a spirited debate and by a small majority, agreed to buy his library of 6,487 books for $23,950. Jefferson had offered the books -- the largest personal collection in the country -- to the nation in September soon after he learned that British troops had burned the congressional library in Washington a month earlier. Because of his generous offer to expand the library, Jefferson has been known as the father of the Library of Congress, which had started in 1800 and had consisted of some three thousand volumes before the disastrous fire. A Library of Congress exhibit on Jefferson in 2000 included a re-creation of the library Jefferson sold to the nation in 1815. It filled twenty twelve-foot-high bookcases.

This large congressional cash infusion did little to stem Jefferson's fiscal woes. He continued to lay out lavish sums to maintain his large household. With his farms and mills providing little or no relief Jefferson was forced to borrow further and his debts mounted.

In January 1826, five months before his death, the eighty-two-year-old Jefferson came up with a plan that he believed would pay off all his debts: a state lottery. In part, the lottery idea was a reaction to his failed effort to sell off large parcels of land at a time when land prices were severely depressed. When he proposed the idea to the Virginia legislature in Richmond, Jefferson received a lukewarm reception, although several legislators floated a plan to provide him an $80,000 interest-free loan.

After the Virginia legislature's debate over the lottery made the newspapers, Jefferson's financial plight became known throughout the country. He received many letters of support, including one from James Monroe (1758-1831), the nation's fifth president who owned a large amount of land in the state and was in similar land-rich, cash-poor financial difficulties.

The publicity over Jefferson's misfortunes resulted in several unsolicited contributions, including a bank note for $7,500 from a group of admirers in New York.

But Jefferson pinned his hopes on the lottery. He let it be known that if the lottery did not work, he was prepared to sell Monticello and his mills and move to his property in Bedford County. As he put it in a February 17 letter to Madison: "If refused, I must sell everything here, perhaps considerably in Bedford, move thither with my family, where I have not even a log hut to put my head into."

A lottery bill was passed by the Virginia legislature on February 20, one in which Monticello essentially was the prize. The plan was to sell at least 11,000 lottery tickets at ten dollars each. Under the plan, Jefferson would keep Monticello for the rest of his life, but it would go to the lottery winner after his death. His daughter Martha, the head of the family, was reconciled to losing Monticello after the lottery law was passed.

When Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, no lottery tickets had yet been sold.

...

At his death Jefferson owed his creditors $107,273.63. The largest amount by far was the $60,110 he owed to his grandson and executor of his estate, Jeff Randolph. Twenty thousand dollars of that amount represented a note Jefferson had co-signed for Jeff's late father-in-law, Wilson Cary Nicholas, and the balance was made up of expenses that Jeff Randolph paid while managing his grandfather's agricultural and other business ventures.

Jefferson's assets were not listed in his will. However, during the debate over the Jefferson lottery earlier that year, Monticello and its surrounding acres were valued at $71,000. His properties at Shadwell Mills and in Milton were deemed to be worth $41,500. The publicity over the lottery resulted in two other items in the estate's plus column: $10,000 contributions voted to Martha Randolph by the legislatures of South Carolina and Louisiana.

In his will, Jefferson gave his country retreat, Poplar Forest, to his grandson, Francis Eppes, the son of Jefferson's deceased daughter Maria and her husband (and cousin) John Wayles Eppes. Jefferson bequeathed Monticello and his remaining real estate in trust to his daughter, Martha. He named her son Jeff Randolph as his sole executor and also designated him as one of the estate's three trustees. The others were Alexander Garrett, the bursar at the University of Virginia, and Jefferson's grandson-in-law, Nicholas Philip Trist.

In a codicil to his will, Jefferson left his walking staff to James Madison. He gave watches to each of his grandchildren, and wanted his books to be donated to the University of Virginia -- although they later were sold, instead, to raise cash. The codicil also granted freedom to five of his slaves who had learned trades, all of whom were members of the Hemings family: Joe Fossett, Burwell Culbert, and John, Madison, and Eston Hemings. Burwell Culbert (called "Burwell" by the family), Jefferson's butler and main household servant, also received $300. All five freemen were also given houses.

Finally, Jefferson directed that his farm books, account books, and letters go to Jeff Randolph. Jefferson's collection of forty thousand letters included copies of every letter he wrote -- copies he made as he wrote with a device called a polygraph, which held two sheets of paper and two connected pens.

Jeff Randolph, his mother, and the trustees faced an extremely difficult task. Aside from the six-figure debt, there was the not inconsiderable problem of what to do about Monticello. Jefferson did not have enough cash to maintain the mansion properly during his retirement years. In the years leading up to his death, the house, especially the exterior, showed the strains of delayed maintenance and the continuous use by the unending parade of visitors and family members. The floors of the terrace walks had decayed and fallen in the roof leaked badly around the skylights the interior rooms were in need of attention.

Visitors commented on the sad state of affairs. "His house is rather old and going to decay," said Samuel Whitcomb, Jr., a bookseller who showed up to try to interest Jefferson in his wares at Monticello on May 31, 1824. "Appearances about his yard and hill are rather slovenly."

By the end of 1826, Martha Jefferson Randolph and her son decided they had only one course of action: to sell off Jefferson's lands and his household goods. They did so reluctantly. "You may suppose how unwilling we are to leave our home in a few weeks, perhaps never to return to it and how much we...prefer lingering here till the last moment," Mary Jefferson Randolph, Martha Randolph's twenty-two-year-old daughter, wrote to her older sister Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge in Boston on October 1.

Jeff Randolph placed a notice that appeared in the January 9, 1827, Richmond Enquirer under the headline "Executor's Sale." On January 15, the ad said, "the whole of the residue of the personal property of Thomas Jefferson" would be auctioned at Monticello. That included "130 valuable negroes, stock, crops &c., household and kitchen furniture."

The slaves were described as "believed to be the most valuable for their number ever offered at one time in the State of Virginia." The notice listed "many valuable historical and portrait paintings, busts of marble and plaster of distinguished individuals, one of marble of Thomas Jefferson by Caracci, with the pedestal and truncated columns on which it stands a polygraph or copying instrument used by Thomas Jefferson, for the last twenty-five years" and "various other articles curious and useful to men of business and private families."

The sale began on January 15, 1827, and lasted five days. There is no complete record of who bought the items, but family letters reveal that Jefferson's grandchildren themselves purchased much of the furniture and furnishings. The rest was sold to friends, neighbors, and strangers who showed up for the sale at Monticello. Nearly all of the slaves were sold to Virginia buyers, many of them in Albemarle and the surrounding counties. According to an item in the newsmagazine Niles' Register, the sale brought in $47,840.

Mary Randolph wrote to Ellen on January 25 describing with great despair the siblings' feelings about the auction. "During five days that the sale lasted, you may imagine what must have been the state of our feelings, such a scene playing out actually within sight [and with people] bringing us fresh details of everything that was going on..." It is better, Mary said, "to submit to any personal inconveniences, however numerous and annoying they may be, than to live in a state of society where such things as trade are of daily occurrence..."

After the sale, Martha Randolph came back to Virginia from Boston with her young children and joined the rest of the family at Tufton where her father had built a house almost forty years earlier. Jeff Randolph had moved there with his wife Jane Nicholas and their children in 1817 and added a new wing. Virginia Randolph Trist and her husband Nicholas also left Monticello and joined the rest of the family, although they eventually resettled in Washington, D.C., after Nicholas accepted a clerkship at the State Department generously provided by Virginia-born secretary of state Henry Clay (1777-1852), who was aware of the family's financial difficulties.

Jefferson's art works and books were not part of the January 1827 auction. The family decided to market the paintings and other works of art in Boston, where they thought the collection would bring better prices than in Charlottesville. Martha Randolph's daughter Ellen and her husband Joseph Coolidge took charge. They held the sale at the Boston Athenaeum, the venerable independent library that had been founded in 1807 and which, the year before, had established an art gallery. The sale took place in July 1828 with disappointing results. Only one painting was sold.

In November, Jeff Randolph wrote to Joseph Coolidge to push for another sale. Despite Jeff's urging, it wasn't until five years later, on July 19, 1833, that the family arranged an auction of the paintings, this time at Harding's Gallery in Boston. Again, the results were disappointing only a few paintings were sold and the total take was only about $450.

Jeff Randolph also had tried, without success, to resurrect the lottery and extend it to several states, including New York and Maryland. He gave up the lottery scheme and pinned his hopes on selling his grandfather's property -- including Monticello -- to get the estate solvent. "He hopes the property will pay all the debts and that Mama will have a comfortable support besides," Virginia said in a letter to Ellen.

Thomas Jefferson wanted his books to go to the school he founded, the University of Virginia. But, with the lottery scheme dead, Jeff Randolph decided to sell the books to raise cash to apply to the estate's debts. He sold the bulk of the collection to a Washington, D.C., bookseller in 1829. That same year Jeff Randolph sold a historically important collection of his grandfather's printed books, bound volumes, and manuscripts that dealt primarily with Virginia history to the Library of Congress. That valuable collection included early seventeenth-century Virginia colonial records, along with Jefferson's notes and commentaries on history, philosophy, and the law.

Also in 1829 Jeff Randolph -- again, to raise money -- edited and published four volumes of his grandfather's papers. Jeff Randolph fully realized the historical importance of the publication of Thomas Jefferson's Memoirs. He also had hoped that their publication would bring in cash, but he gained almost no profit from their publication.

In 1848 he sold the balance of Jefferson's public papers to the Library of Congress for $20,000. Those funds went toward paying off the estate's debt, which was not completely settled until 1878, three years after his own death.

While Jeff Randolph was scrambling to raise cash in the years after Thomas Jefferson's death, Monticello continued to suffer from neglect. "The house," Philadelphia lawyer and author Henry D. Gilpin said after a visit early in 1827, is "dark & much dilapidated with age and neglect." Things were made worse by visitors who came uninvited and helped themselves to mementos of Monticello.

It "will grieve you both very much to hear of the depredations that have been made at Monticello by the numerous parties who go to see the place," Virginia Trist wrote on March 23, 1827, in her letter from Tufton to her sister Ellen. "Mama's choicest flower roots have been carried off, one of her yellow jesmins, fig bushes (very few of which escaped the cold of last winter) grape vines and every thing and anything that they fancied."

Nicholas Trist reacted by putting a notice in the papers requesting visitors to "desist from such trespasses," she said. But it did little good. Burwell Culbert, the freed household slave who still lived on the property and maintained the house and yard, reported, she said, that the memento-seeking visitors were "worse than they were before."

Things did not get any better. Virginia Trist, in a May 1, 1827, letter from Tufton to Ellen said that "the vulgar herd that flock" to Monticello "behaved so badly that brother Jeff intends to forbid anyone's going there on Sunday." Jeff Randolph, Virginia said, also decided to "employ some respectable white man to take care of the place." Burwell Culbert, she said, "has given many proofs this winter of attachment to our family, as well as to Monticello. He has staid [sic] there ever since the sale, and appears to have taken pleasure in trying to keep the house clean...and the yard...in some sort of order."

That spring, Randolph family members occasionally came to Monticello to help keep things in order. "Today," Cornelia Randolph wrote to her sister Ellen from Monticello on May 18, "we have come up to have the bedding turned and house aired." One of the family's "greatest pleasures," she said, "is our occasional walk up here. The place is so lovely and in this beautiful season too, if it was not for our affection to it, it would be a pleasure to come." The house, she said, "is so cool that it is a relief from the heat of Tufton, which I fear we shall find overpowering this summer."

Burwell Culbert continued to keep the house in good condition, Cornelia said. They "found the doors and windows all open, the floors rubbed bright, and the old remaining chairs and marble tables (which mostly belong to brother Jeff. and of course have not been removed) were all set in order." The whole place, she said, "seemed to welcome us...I sat in the hall a long time enjoying it...with a mixture of pleasure and pain which I always feel here now."

Along with keeping the inside clean, Culbert also tended to the grounds. "He has even been at the trouble of digging up the young poplars which were springing up everywhere and would soon have made a wilderness of the yard and of pruning the trees," Cornelia said. "He seems to take pleasure in keeping things as they used to be. He and all the servants have so much feeling and affection for us and I often send their lonesome message to mama and yourself."

Cornelia said that her brother Jeff had plans to turn Monticello into a "grass farm." Doing that, she said, "will cover our unsightly red soil with beautiful green which will be kept in order and, at the same time, the stock upon it will be a great source of profit."

In July, the family turned the house over to Dr. Robley Dunglison, the British-born physician who had come to Charlottesville to join the original faculty at the University of Virginia two years earlier. Dunglison, the University's first anatomy and medical professor, also was Thomas Jefferson's physician. He and his wife Hariette brought their two-year-old daughter to Monticello for "the benefit of change of air," as Mary Randolph put it in a July 29 letter to Ellen from Tufton.

"Mrs. Dunglison arrived Wednesday evening and the next day we put her in possession of all the rooms prepared for her accommodation," Mary wrote. That included, she said, "the public rooms, the two chambers opposite the dining room, with all the appurtenances, closets, cupboards, etc., also the little closet at the foot of our staircase and our old 'washroom'..."

Cornelia Randolph stayed at Monticello while the Dunglisons were there to help nurse Willis, an elderly family slave. Willis, Mary Randolph said, "had been declining so visibly and so rapidly for the last week that it was a very great relief to our uneasiness about him to have such an opportunity of placing him under Dr. Dunglison's superintendence..."

The Dunglisons remained at Monticello until early in September 1827. Around that time Jeff Randolph and his wife Jane and their children moved from Tufton (which he subsequently sold) to a new house he had built on Edgehill Plantation six miles from Monticello.

Jeff Randolph's father, Col. Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., had inherited Edgehill from his grandfather, William Randolph of Tuckahoe (1683-1729), who was a contemporary of Peter Jefferson. Jeff Randolph had bought Edgehill from his father in January 1826.

After Jeff Randolph moved with his wife and children to Edgehill, Mary, Cornelia, and Nicholas and Virginia Trist moved back to Monticello. The plan was for their mother Martha and the two younger children to join them there in May and set up housekeeping on the first floor.

Mary Randolph described the arrangement to Ellen in an August 10, 1828, letter from Monticello. The greenhouse, she said, "serves as a very pleasant little sitting room for us, during a part of the day (when the sun was not shining upon the windows) and is at all times a favorite play place for the children." The adjacent library or book room -- "once filled with my dear grandfather's books" -- was turned into a "delightful sleeping room, large enough to hold two beds and furniture enough to accommodate those persons with ease and comfort."

The adjoining sitting room also became a bedroom, in "which two more can be comfortably lodged." Those first-floor rooms, Mary said, "are laid off in a manner to suit our circumstances precisely and are besides very pleasant in themselves."

In March 1828, Thomas Mann Randolph -- who was in failing health and who had been estranged from his family (especially from Jeff, his eldest son) for many years -- announced that he wanted to move to Monticello. He had been living nearby in a small, five-room house at Milton. Writing in the third person, Colonel Randolph wrote to Nicholas Trist on March 10 asking for permission to move. "Mr. Randolph begs to be informed by Mr. Trist whether he can be allowed to occupy again the North Pavilion at Monticello," Randolph wrote, "as Mrs. Randolph has just communicated her intention of returning to Monticello in May and her expectation that he will reside there with her again in future."

The plan was, Randolph said, for him to live "in his own room at his own charge, making no part of the family and receiving nothing from [them] in any way whatever. He will not come on any other terms...He wants only a place for his horse the cellar under the house one of the carriage houses for his fuel, which he will procure himself and a small spot for a garden, to be enclosed by him." Colonel Randolph asked Nicholas Trist to get back to him the next day because "his funds are getting too low for any tavern." Nicholas Trist wrote back the same day to accept.

Colonel Randolph soon took up occupancy in Monticello's north pavilion. The family members acceded to his wishes to live separately, though they tried to convince him to join the family group in the main section of the house. "We are doing everything in our power to contribute to his comfort," Virginia Trist wrote from Monticello to Ellen on March 19, "but as he expressly desired to live in solitude...Mary and myself never break in upon it, except for a few moments in the morning to ask how he is..."

Living at Monticello was proving to be difficult for the family. Financial problems, Virginia said, probably would force them to move. Because "Nicholas cannot continue here without getting in debt," she said, he "now speaks frequently of the probability of his having to go where he can find employment that will suit him. Washington he sometimes talks of and sometimes of the south." Not long after those words were written, Ni

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Monticello (Va, ) History, Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 Homes and haunts Virginia Albemarle County, Historic sites Conservation and restoration Virginia Albemarle County, Historic buildings Virginia Albemarle County Design and construction, Levy, Uriah Phillips, 1792-1862, Levy family, Historic preservation United States Case studies, Antisemitism United States Case studies