Before I launch upon this post, I have a confession to make: I am first and foremost, a monarchist. Yes, I am! Don't feel threatened, though, for neither my King nor his Kingdom are of this world. While on earth, I'm a republican and a constitutionalist, with all the attending messes these typf of government entails. Why am I a republican? Because I agree with the Founding Fathers of the USA, who denied some people were better than others by reason of birth and therefore, some were born to govern, and others were born to serve them.
My interest to "reconnect" with the Founding Fathers took me to a wide range of summer readings - which I detailed here and here. As a consequence, I decided to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, who authored among many other things, the U.S. Declaration of Independence. He was also the third President of the United States, first Secretary of State, second Vice President, founder of the University of Virginia and many other things: lawyer, politician, philosopher, scientist, polyglot, dandy, wine-lover, conversationalist, republican, chum...and slaveholder.
We went to Monticello last August. Here's a slideshow consisting of 79 pictures I took during our visit. Like often happens in these locales, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the mansion itself, so these are all outside pictures:
If you can't see the slide show on this post, then try it here.
Of all the things you can see in Monticello and talk about, the one I want to talk about is Jefferson's bed chamber, specifically, the odd placing of his bed. Here's a picture of it, courtesy of Monticello.org:
|Jefferson's Bed - Photo by Monticello.org|
A clock hangs on the wall right in front of him, it was the first thing he saw in the morning. If he raised to his right, he would've walked right into his "cabinet" or studio room; to his left, to a fire place and a room to relax. The arrangement gave me the odd impression that I was looking at a Jungian mandala, with Jefferson placed at the center - not of the house, for the bedroom is off-center, but of the entire mountain. Jefferson created a universe with him at its center.Well, himself, and the passage of time. I found it disconcerting and a bit depressing even. The room was a display of the man's ego.
I can talk a lot also about Jefferson's cognitive dissonance. I am sure he penned some of the most eloquent condemnations of slavery ever to come out from the pen of a man while working in that office and looking through the windows, as his slaves worked. His very private - and very public! - love affair with his slave, Sally Hemmings and the children he sired from her in perhaps a very conscious effort to project himself into the future and leave others to solve the moral conundrums he left behind. However, others have addressed this subject better than I have.
I did learn a lesson and that is that a man will always be a man, riddle with contradictions and shortcomings but that his words, if they are good words, will transcend him for all eternity. The words come to be bigger than the man, even if the man was Thomas Jefferson.