Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello

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On the corner of 7th and Market streets stands a colonial Georgian brick house that most of us walk right by without even noticing. It was in this structure in June of 1776 that Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, that famous document that oh-so-eloquently announced the beginning of a new and independent American nation. Within this document, Jefferson declares “all men are created equal ... endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Meanwhile, over the course of his life, Jefferson owned 600 people—scores of men, women and children—as property.

Later on in his only published book, 1785’s Notes of the State of Virginia, Jefferson compiled information regarding the natural history, inhabitants and political organization of the state, including a most extensive discussion of his views on race. Like many others during the time, Jefferson believed that blacks were fundamentally inferior to whites. He questioned whether their low status was due to inherent inferiority or to generations of degrading enslavement. Even during his terms as president, Jefferson hinted at the idea of a gradual emancipation, though he made no real moves to incorporate these ideals into actual policy and remained publicly silent on the matter.

Through late October, the National Constitution Center will host and house Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello, a striking, in-depth look at the families of enslaved Africans who worked, lived and died at Jefferon’s historic Virginia plantation. Focusing on the lives and trials of the Fossett, Granger, Gillette, Hemings, Hern and Hubbard families, the exhibit features more than 280 artifacts that represent each family’s trade, as well as personal items of Jefferson himself. Guests are encouraged to explore the U.S.’ brutal history of slavery in hopes that they will be curious about their own family’s heritage—and celebrate how far, as Americans, we’ve all come. // KENNEDY ALLEN

Through Oct. 19. National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St. 215.409.6600. constitutioncenter.org
 

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EVENT DETAILS

WHEN
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Recurring: ONCE Thursday, April 10, 2014
Recurring: ONCE

TIME & PRICE
- - Price: Unknown

WHERE
525 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA
One time only on 04/10/2014. .

FOR MORE INFO
National Constitution Center

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