Jefferson in Retirement
In 1809, James Madison was elected to succeed Jefferson as president. Jefferson retired to his beloved Monticello, where he spent his time experimenting with plants, pursuing scientific interests, writing his autobiography, and corresponding with friends on subjects as diverse as his many interests. He also worked to establish the University of Virginia, one of the proudest achievements of his life.
Although Jefferson never again left Virginia, politics was always on his mind. In a letter to Congressman John Holmes of Maine, April 22, 1820, he expressed concern for the union in the wake of the Missouri Compromise’s passage, referring to the sectional issue over slavery and its extension as “the fire bell in the night.”
Complete your timeline of Jefferson’s writings about slavery. Summarize the evolution of his views on slavery. What provisions would you have expected Jefferson to have made for his slaves upon his death? Find out if your prediction was correct.