April 13: Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday

thomas-jefferson-3JEFFERSON, A DESIGN-BUILD CONTRACTOR? In Jack McLaughlin’s book, Jefferson and Monticello, he writes: “Although there were no architects in the modern sense of the word – those who professionally designed buildings – in colonial Virginia, the more substantial plantation homes were constructed by professionals. It was usually a master bricklayer or carpenter who took on the functions of what today would be a building contractor. * * * Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, from his earliest decision to build a house, made a commitment to design and supervise construction of it himself. * * * His decision to become his own architect and general contractor was not surprising, given what we know of this unusual young man.” (pp. 36-37). The author later attributes this to Jefferson’s concerns with the “minutest detail” and the fact that no work got done unless he was on site!

Timeline of Jefferson’s Life

1743. Born at Shadwell

1760-62. Attended the College of William & Mary

1762-67. Studied law with George Wythe

1767. Admitted to practice law (age 24)

1768. Began leveling mountain top for his new home at Monticello

1772. Married Martha

1774. Retired from law practice, inherited 11,000 acres and 135 slaves from his father-in-law

1775. Elected to the Continental Congress

1776. Writes Declaration of Independence; signed on July 4th

1779-81. Served as Governor of Virginia

1783. Elected to Congress

1790-93. First U.S. Secretary of State

1797-1801. Vice President

1801-09. U.S. President 1819: Designs UVA plan

1826. Died on July 4th at Monticello, Virginia

From: The Jefferson Society’s Quarterly Journal, The Monticello, Oct 2012 Edition

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