The man was interested in everything. Architecture, astronomy, viticulture, music, farming, anthropology, carpentry. And Thomas Jefferson seems to have been good at quite a lot.
He designed his home of Monticello and the University of Virginia, both in Charlottesville. The Virginia gentleman was a masterful farmer, constantly experimenting with 330 varieties of more than 70 species of vegetables from around the world (including 15 types of English pea). Jefferson was an avid chess player, prolific letter-writer, and lover of books.
Most of all, and lucky for America, Jefferson was a member of the Continental Congress, who in 1776 was assigned to articulate a vision of government of, by, and for the people. The result, Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, became the nation’s founding document, a charter of American and universal liberties. “We hold these truths to be self evident….”
The original document is on display at the National Archives.
Passages from the Declaration and other quotes from Jefferson are inscribed on the walls and inside the dome of the Jefferson Memorial. Styled after the Pantheon in Rome, the memorial is a columned rotunda in which the 19 foot-high bronze figure of Jefferson stands atop a 6-foot pedestal looking past the Tidal Basin to the White House in the distance.
Jefferson resided in that White House as third president of the United States, after serving as vice president to John Adams and before that, as secretary of state to George Washington.
The Jefferson Memorial and its Tidal Basin location are prime places for cherry blossom viewing in spring.
Metro: Smithsonian on the Silver, Blue and Orange Lines, with a 20-minute walk. Independence Ave. and 12th St. exit. DC Circulator.