Thomas Jefferson Papers

Jared Sparks’s Account of a Visit to Monticello, [20 August 1820]

Jared Sparks’s Account of a Visit to Monticello

[20 Aug. 1820]

But one of the greatest curiosities I met with was Thomas Jefferson. Whether you will call this a natural or an artificial curiosity, I am puzzled to know. At all events, I went to see him at the exhibition-house at Monticello, up a long hill, which is almost daily trod by many a weary pilgrim’s foot. I was very kindly received and politely treated; and I think there are very few persons who would not feel inclined to say at once, that this is no common man. He bears the marks of age, but his mind is vigorous, excursive, and quick. His college is no less curious than himself. It consists of twelve large buildings, and many smaller ones, and together they form incomparably the most beautiful specimens of architecture in this country.

Printed in Herbert B. Adams, The Life and Writings of Jared Sparks (1893), 1:173, and there described as an extract of a letter from Sparks to Ann Gillam Storrow, dated Baltimore, 10 Oct. 1820; timing of Sparks’s visit deduced from his delivery to Monticello on 19 Aug. 1820 of letters of introduction from John Hollins of 4 Aug. and John Vaughan of 5 Aug. 1820, TJ’s dinner invitation to Sparks of 20 Aug. 1820, and Sparks’s reply of that date.

A portrait of Sparks is reproduced elsewhere in this volume.

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Descriptions of; by J. Sparks search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Sparks, Jared search
  • Sparks, Jared; Account of a Visit to Monticello search
  • Sparks, Jared; and University of Virginia search
  • Sparks, Jared; on TJ search
  • Sparks, Jared; visits Monticello search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; design of search