Thomas Jefferson

by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863—1930)

Oil on canvas; 30 x 24 in. One of the 78 scenes from American history by Ferris titled The Pageant of a Nation. Virginia Historical S

by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741—1828)

Terra cotta patinated plaster. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Monticello, Charlottesville, VA.

by Mather Brown (1761—1831)

Oil on canvas; 91.4 x 71.1 x (36 x 28 1/16 in).

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on mahogany. 4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in. (11.4 x 8.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on panel; 12.1 × 7.6 cm (4.8 × 3 in). The White House Collection, Washington, DC.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on wood; miniature. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Monticello, Charlottesville, VA.

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas. Thomas Jefferson State Reception Room, U.S. Department of State building, Washington, D.C.

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

by Charles Peale Polk (1767—1822)

Oil on canvas; 69.22 cm (27.25 in) x 60.96 cm (24 in). Private collection.

Monticello was a working plantation, and Jefferson was eager to make it pay. His slaves may have been members of his family, but they were units of production as well. Everywhere on his plantation he sought to eliminate pockets of idleness. If a slave was too old or too sick to work in the fields, he or she was put to tending the vegetable gardens or to cooking in the quarters. When one of his former head men named Nace became ill, Jefferson ordered that he be entirely kept from labour until he recovers; nevertheless, Nace was to spend his days indoors shelling corn or making shoes or baskets. Jefferson was willing to prescribe lighter work for women who were pregnant or raising infant children because they were actually breeding more property; thus, said Jefferson, a child raised every 2 years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man. This is one of the times, he said, when providence has made our interest and our duties coincide perfectly.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)