Thomas Jefferson: America’s Pioneering Gourmand

Thomas Jefferson: America’s Pioneering Gourmand

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Founding Father, author of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States, appropriator of the Louisiana Purchase, gastronome…? Of the numerous extraordinary contributions Thomas Jefferson made to the United States of America, one that is often overlooked is his legacy of gourmet cuisine and sustainable horticulture.

In the mid-18th century, the American diet was still largely influenced by English traditions. Meats were often boiled, baked or stewed, while less-frequently-consumed vegetables were typically boiled. Baked breads, sweet pies and alcohol—usually hard cider, ale and fortified port or Madeira wines—were readily consumed. In 1784, two years after his wife had died, Thomas Jefferson was appointed minister plenipotentiary by Congress and set off for France. It was during this time in Paris, and while traveling throughout southern France and northern Italy, that he developed an enduring appreciation of fine cuisine.

Jefferson arranged for one of his slaves, James Hemings, to accompany him to Europe so that he could be trained in the art of French cooking. Under the tutelage of a few well-known chefs and caterers, Hemings soon acquired the skills necessary to assume the role of chef de cuisine at Jefferson’s private residence on the Champs-Elysees, where Jefferson maintained a garden that included Indian corn from American seeds, along with other fruits and vegetables. The scientific gardener enjoyed exchanging plants with his French companions and experimenting with the most unusual vegetables he could obtain.

While touring the country and soaking up epicurean delicacies, Jefferson recorded careful notes and drafted detailed sketches of local farming techniques and tools as well as cooking methods and utensils. One such observation depicted a macaroni machine for making pasta, a version of which he later procured and had shipped back to Monticello. Although he may not have been the first person to bring pasta to America, Jefferson certainly helped to spread its popularity by presenting macaroni and cheese to dinner guests while serving as president of the United States, and while hosting numerous lavish dinner parties in his home at Monticello.

Another indulgence that Jefferson enjoyed while living abroad was ice cream. By 1796, he had established two “freising molds” back home in his Monticello kitchen to facilitate its production, and several accounts exist of the frozen treat being served within a warm crust or pastry at the President’s House (now known as the White House) during his term in office. A recipe written in his hand for vanilla ice cream is considered to be the first known recipe recorded by an American.

According to food historian Karen Hess, it’s also possible that Jefferson initiated America’s love affair with french fries. Long before American soldiers encountered them in Europe during World War I, Jefferson reportedly served the addictive fare while entertaining guests at the President’s House. Having hired a maître d’hôtel and chef from France to manage provisions and food preparations, Jefferson and his guests likely benefitted from an imported knowledge of deep-fried slices of potatoes.

Upon returning home from France in 1789, Jefferson had some of his favorite delicacies shipped to the U.S., along with 680 bottles of wine. His repeated attempts to plant various European grape varieties in his vineyards at Monticello were unsuccessful, but his knowledge of wine and advocacy of American viticulture earned him a reputation as a distinguished wine connoisseur. It was his experimental kitchen garden at Monticello, however, which gave Jefferson the ultimate satisfaction. Cultivating 330 varieties of 89 species of vegetables and herbs and 170 varieties of fruits while emphasizing the importance of fostering rich soil through organic matter, Jefferson was determined to introduce new crops that might help American farmers prosper and expand the country’s palate. Although his horticultural diary, “Garden Book,” details numerous failures, Jefferson wrote of his retirement, “I am constantly in my garden or farm, as exclusively employed out of doors as I was within doors when at Washington, and I find myself infinitely happier in my new mode of life.”

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Thomas Jefferson's Legacy in Gardening and Food

Jefferson's Monticello garden was a Revolutionary American garden. One wonders if anyone else had ever before assembled such a collection of vegetable novelties, culled from virtually every western culture known at the time, then disseminated by Jefferson with the persistence of a religious reformer, a seedy evangelist. Here grew the earth's melting pot of immigrant vegetables: an Ellis Island of introductions, the whole world of hardy economic plants: 330 varieties of eighty-nine species of vegetables and herbs, 170 varieties of the finest fruit varieties known at the time. The Jefferson legacy supporting small farmers, vegetable cuisine, and sustainable agriculture is poignantly topical today.

Thomas Jefferson's 1,000-foot-long, terraced vegetable garden is the true American garden: practical, expansive, casual, diverse, wrought from a world of edible immigrants. Although the variable continental climate of Virginia presents unique horticultural challenges, few places on earth combine tropical heat and humidity with mildly temperate winters like those at Monticello. The microclimate, and really the genius, of the south-facing, terraced Monticello garden exaggerates the summer warmth, tempers the winter cold, and captures an abundant wealth of crop-ripening sunshine. To grow so many tropical species like sweet potatoes, peanuts, and lima beans in the same garden as traditional cool-weather crops like cauliflower, endive, and celery, without artificial hot beds, had likely never been done before Thomas Jefferson accomplished this feat at Monticello.

Aside from its diverse population of mostly introduced crops, the Monticello garden was American in its size and scope, experimental character, and expansive visual sweep. 600,000 cubic feet of Piedmont red clay was moved with a cart and mule to create the "hanging garden," and the terrace was supported by a rock wall as tall as fifteen feet and also running 1,000 feet. Below is the six-acre fruit garden that contained 170 varieties of the most celebrated varieties known at the time. As it stretches to the western horizon, seemingly limitlessly against the background of Montalto, Jefferson's "high mountain" to the southwest, or as one looks across the garden terrace to the forty miles of rolling Piedmont, the "sea view," one is struck by the garden's uniquely continental panorama.

Thomas Jefferson liked to eat vegetables, which "constitute my principal diet," and his role in linking the garden with the kitchen into a cuisine defined as "half French, half Virginian" was a pioneering concept in the history of American food. The Monticello kitchen, as well as the table at the President's House in Washington, expressed a seething broil of new, culinary traditions based on these recent garden introductions: French fries, peanuts, Johnny-cakes, gumbo, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pudding, sesame seed oil, fried eggplant, perhaps such American icons as potato chips, tomato catsup, and pumpkin pie. The western traditions of gardening&mdashin England, France, Spain, the Mediterranean&mdashwere blended into a dynamic and unique Monticello cookery through the influence of emerging colonial European, native American, slave, Creole and southwestern vegetables.

Jefferson's daughter, Martha, left a recipe for okra soup, in effect, gumbo, a compelling metaphor for the Monticello garden: a rich blend of American native vegetables grown by American Indians like lima beans and cymlins South and Central American discoveries adapted by both northern (potatoes) and southern (tomatoes) Europeans and tied together by an African plant, okra, grown by both the French and enslaved blacks in the West Indies, rarely known among white Virginians, and prepared by African-American chefs at Monticello.

Jefferson, according to culinary historian Karen Hess, was "our most illustrious epicure, in fact, our only epicurean President," and his devotion to fresh produce, whether in the President's House at a state dinner, or at Monticello for the large numbers of celebrity tourists who crowded the retired President's table, remains a central legacy of Jefferson's gardening career. Jefferson also promoted commercial market gardening. The remarkable calendar he compiled while President, delineating the first and last appearance of thirty-seven vegetables in the Washington DC farmer's market, is among the most revelatory documents in the history of American food. As well, it was Jefferson himself who obtained new vegetable varieties from foreign consuls, passed them on to Washington market gardeners, and ordered his maitre'd to pay the highest prices for the earliest produce.

In 1792 Jefferson, while serving as Secretary of State in Philadelphia, received a letter from his daughter, Martha, complaining about the insect-riddled plants in the Monticello Vegetable Garden. His response is a stirring anthem to the organic gardening movement. "We will try this winter to cover our garden with a heavy coating of manure. When is rich it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance, and of the best quality. I suspect that the insect which have harassed you have been encouraged by the feebleness of your plants and that has been produced by the lean state of the soil." Jefferson's rallying cry on the remedial value of manure, the horticultural rewards of soil improvement, has inspired gardeners of all kinds. Jefferson not only enjoyed the garden process and relished eating fresh produce, but the garden also functioned as an experimental laboratory, in some ways, as a vehicle for social change. He wrote that, "the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to its culture," and Jefferson ranked the introduction of the olive tree and upland rice into the United States with his authorship of the Declaration of Independence. A Johnny Apple seed of the vegetable world, Jefferson passed out seeds of his latest novelty with messiahinistic fervor: not only to friends and neighbors like George Divers and John Hartwell Cocke, his family of daughters, granddaughers, and sons in law, but to fellow politicians&mdashfrom George Washington to James Madison&mdashand the leading plantsmen of the early nineteenth century like McMahon, William Bartram, William Hamiton of Philadelphia, and Andre Thouin of Paris. Although few species can be proven as Jefferson introductions into American gardens, the recitation of vegetables grown at Monticello is a meditative chant of rare, unusual, and pioneering species: asparagus bean, sea kale, tomatoes, rutabaga, lima beans, okra, potato pumpkins, winter melons, tree onion, peanuts, "sprout kale," serpentine cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussells sprouts, orach, endive, peanuts, chick peas, cayenne pepper, "esculent Rhubarb," black salsify, sesame, eggplant.

Although a modest endeavor, Jefferson's only published horticultural work was "A General Gardening Calendar," a monthly guide to kitchen gardening that appeared in a May 21, 1824 edition of the American Farmer, a Baltimore periodical of progressive agriculture. Here Jefferson authoritatively instructed gardeners to plant a thimble spool of lettuce seed every Monday morning from February 1 to September 1, as if the Monday morning lettuce sowing was a life lesson or discipline akin to dutifully saying your prayers or cleaning one's dinner plate the rites of Monday morning led to a long life, happiness, and good teeth.

Michelle Obama recently declared that the White House kitchen garden "has been one of the greatest things I've done in my life so far." An admirer of Thomas Jefferson and inspired by a visit to the Monticello garden, White House chef and Coordinator of the White House Food Initiative, Sam Kass, reserved a discrete section of this garden in honor of Thomas Jefferson. In the spring of 2009 it was planted with seeds and plants of Thomas Jefferson's favorite vegetable varieties: Tennis-ball and Brown Dutch lettuce, Prickly-seeded spinach and Marseilles fig. The Jefferson legacy in gardening and food is not a mere historical curiosity, but is a compelling force in the movement toward a more sustainable agricultural future.

Jefferson's Excavation of an Indian Burial Mound

In 1780, the secretary of the French legation in Philadelphia, François Marbois, submitted to various members of the Continental Congress a list of questions concerning the thirteen American states.1 Joseph Jones, a member of the Virginia delegation, believed Thomas Jefferson the most capable person to answer these queries for the state of Virginia and put Marbois's questionnaire in his hands. The answers composed by Jefferson to twenty-three queries make up his Notes on the State of Virginia, which has been called the "most important scientific and political book written by an American before 1785."2 Among the queries submitted by Marbois was one asking for a description of the Indians in the state (Query XI). Jefferson long had an interest in the Indian population of his native Virginia and his response to Query XI constitutes an impressive description of Indian tribes, their number, history, and geographical location, as well as their languages. As part of this response, Jefferson described in detail his exploration of an Indian burial mound in the "neighbourhood" of Monticello. He stated that it was "situated on the low grounds of the Rivanna, about two miles above its principal fork, and opposite to some hills, on which had been an Indian town."3

Jefferson and others were aware of "many" barrows, as he called them, in the area.4 This particular mound or barrow was known locally as "the Indian Grave."5 Jefferson excavated the barrow in order to ascertain which of several views of the Indian burial customs was correct: "That they were repositories of the dead, has been obvious to all: but on what particular occasion constructed, was matter of doubt. Some have thought they covered the bones of those who have fallen in battles fought on the spot of interment. Some ascribed them to the custom, said to prevail among the Indians, of collecting, at certain periods, the bones of all their dead, wheresoever deposited at the time of death. Others again supposed them the general sepulchres for towns, conjectured to have been on or near the grounds and this opinion was supported by the quality of the lands in which they are found, (those constructed of earth being generally in the softest and most fertile meadow-grounds on river sides) and by a tradition, said to be handed down from the Aboriginal Indians, that, when they settled in a town, the first person who died was placed erect, and earth put around him, so as to cover and support him that, when another dies, a narrow passage was dug to the first, the second reclined against him, and the cover of earth replaced, and so on."6

Jefferson wrote that the mound was "of spheroidical form, of about 40 feet diameter at the base, and had been of about twelve feet altitude . I first dug superficially in several parts of it, and came to collections of human bones, at different depths, from six inches to three feet below the surface. These were lying in the utmost confusion, some vertical, some oblique, some horizontal, and directed to every point of the compass, entangled, and held together in clusters by the earth. . to give the idea of bones emptied promiscuously from a bag or basket, and covered over with earth, without any attention to their order."7

Jefferson proceeded to "make a perpendicular cut through the body of the barrow, that I might examine its internal structure. This passed about three feet from its center, was opened to the former surface of the earth, and was wide enough for a man to walk through and examine its sides." He observed several strata of bones with those nearest the surface the least decayed and "conjectured that in this barrow might have been a thousand skeletons."8 There was no evidence of violence to the bones such as holes made from bullets or arrows. The latter finding argued against the view that the remains in the mounds were of warriors killed in battle nor did Jefferson find that the bodies had been placed upright as others had speculated based on local Indian lore.

Jefferson added that "about thirty years ago" he observed a party of Indians visiting the barrow. They "went through the woods directly to it, without any instructions or enquiry, and having staid about it some time, with expressions which were construed to be those of sorrow, they returned to the high road, which they had left about a dozen miles to pay this visit, and pursued their journey."9 Jefferson submitted a draft of the Notes to Marbois in 1781, and it has been suggested that Jefferson's sighting of the Indians at the barrow "about thirty years ago" would have been, therefore, when he was about eight years old.10 However, this estimate, given Jefferson was born in 1743, is valid only if the passage was included in the Marbois draft and not added to a later copy, and, of course, that Jefferson remembered accurately the number of years past. The original manuscript delivered to Marbois in 1781 has never been found and may no longer exist, and it is known that Jefferson continued work on the 1781 manuscript over the next few years.11

Jefferson did not record exactly when he made his excavation of the Indian mound, and numerous dates have been suggested: C.G. Holland says "about 1780."12 Silvio Bedini suggests it was "around 1782," but may have been undertaken in the 1770s.13 Marie Kimball argues that Jefferson's "observations were, in all probability, made before 1773, the year Jefferson began to become so involved in the Revolutionary movement that he had little thought or time for anything else."14 The Monticello and Jamestown archaeologist, William Kelso, writes: "It is certain that Jefferson, at some time in his twenties, organized an archaeological expedition to that mound, directed archaeological fieldwork, analyzed what he found, and published his conclusions."15 Thus Kelso, too, believed the excavation likely to have taken place before 1773.

Evidence presented by Douglas Wilson, however, makes a strong case for an excavation date in the summer or early fall of 1783.16 As part of his investigation into the evolution of the Notes, Wilson points out that Jefferson's account of the dig was a primary addition to the draft he completed in the summer or early fall of 1783. Since Jefferson left Virginia for Philadelphia on October 16 of that year, Wilson argues that the dig was made between the completion of the draft and his departure for Philadelphia. Moreover, based on an analysis of Charles Thomson's comments made in the spring of 1784, Wilson suggests that Thomson had not seen a first-hand account of the dig as it appears in the later draft and that "Jefferson was prompted to describe his dig, many months after the dig itself by Thomson's spring 1784 commentary."17

Thomas Jefferson: Father of American Archaeology

Archaeological studies have identified thirteen mounds in the Piedmont, Ridge, and Valley regions of central Virginia, including that described by Jefferson. These burial mounds date to the late prehistoric and early contact era (ca. A.D. 900-1700), vary in size and composition (e.g., earth-stone and conical), and may contain the bones of more than a thousand individuals also, interestingly, these collective burial mounds typically are bereft of artifacts.18

The site of Jefferson's mound is on the right (south) bank of the South Fork of the Rivanna River just north of Charlottesville and has been explored by archaeologists on several occasions, most recently by members of the Anthropology Department of the University of Virginia.19 However, as early as 1911, Bushnell explored the area and reported that the mound had "entirely disappeared," most likely washed away due to flooding in the lowland where Jefferson found it.20 On the other hand, scholars agree that the "Indian Town" mentioned by Jefferson was the Monacan village of Monasukapanough, which probably occupied both banks of the South Fork at this point.21 Research at this site is ongoing.22

The original territory of the Monacan Indians and their allies once "comprised more than half the state of Virginia, including almost all of the Piedmont region and parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains." These indigenous people were mound builders, placing the remains of their dead over time in sacred earthen graves.23 Charles Thomson gave an eyewitness account of these burial rituals as part of his extensive comments on a draft of Jefferson's Notes, which Jefferson included as an appendix to the Notes.24

Thomas Jefferson was the first gourmand in America, introducing fine French cuisine. And maybe French fries too

Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, one of the Founding Fathers of America, the organizer of the Louisiana Purchase, and the third president of the United States … need one go on when discussing his legacy?

The answer is yes. The legendary Jefferson also stands out for his contribution to the field of gastronomy. The man knew about tasty food.

American cuisine in the 18th century was of course highly influenced by the English, containing meat, vegetables, and pastries accompanied by beverages such as ale, Madeira port wine, or hard cider. The methods for meat and vegetable preparation included boiling, stewing, or baking while the breads and sweet pies were baked.

Official presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800.

Due to his professional position of minister plenipotentiary, Thomas Jefferson had the good fortune to travel around Europe and experience the different cultures, and one of the essential features of their identity was gastronomy and cuisine. In 1784, he set off for France, visiting Paris and the southern regions of the country, as well as northern Italy this voyage developed in him an everlasting appreciation of fine cuisine. He was so thrilled by French cooking that he arranged for one of his slaves to learn and master the skills from the country’s renowned chefs. Soon, he got himself a chef de cuisine who cooked for him in his private residence on the Champs-Elysees.

Baked macaroni and cheese. Author: Martin. CC BY 2.0.

While he was touring and savoring various delicacies, Jefferson diligently noted all the skills, methods, tools, and utensils for cooking that he wanted to bring home to America. One such observation included the macaroni that he found in Italy. He was so enamored with the pasta that he sketched a “macaroni machine,” and in 1802, at a state dinner in his home in Monticello, in Virginia, he served the macaroni with some cheese, making the dish the talk of the town–and one of today’s most popular dishes.

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Author: Matt Kozlowski. CC BY 2.5.

Alongside mac and cheese, Italy introduced Jefferson to another indulgence: the irresistible gelato or ice cream. He enjoyed it so much that by 1796 he created “freising molds” to ease its production and collected different recipes. As president, he served ice cream at formal dinners, spoiling the guests who were puzzled by the flavor and texture of the new dessert. One of the guests, a congressman from Massachusetts, wrote, “ Ice cream very good, crust wholly dried, crumbled into thin flakes,” to which the Representative Samuel Latham Mitchill added, “Balls of frozen material inclosed [sic] in covers of warm pastry, exhibiting a curious contrast, as if the ice had just been taken from the oven.” The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. has a handwritten recipe of vanilla ice cream written by Jefferson himself.

Gelato at CafeMia retail store. Author: CafeMia. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Karen Hess, a food historian, has brought up the possibility of Jefferson being the initiator of America’s romance with French fries. Reportedly, Jefferson first served them at a lavish party at the president’s house. He brought back the recipe from France, so the chef and the maitre d’hotel acquired a new way of preparing potato slices, cutting them in small round pieces and frying them raw.

A serving of French fries. Author: Popo le Chien. CC BY-SA 3.0.

France is once again to blame for another of Jefferson’s delicacies, wine and, in particular, champagne. Back in 1789, on his return back home from France, he brought along 680 bottles of wine. In addition, he attempted to plant various grape varieties but never succeeded. However, his knowledge of enology was highly recognized in America, earning him a reputation as a real wine connoisseur.

Monticello Vegetable Garden. CC BY 2.5.

At most of his formal dinners the finest imported champagne was served and Jefferson, an avid fan, was so fond of the it that he reportedly kept a corkscrew next to the toothbrush in his carrying case. He preferred a flat champagne, considering the sparkling type to be a “silly fad.”

His passion for cooking didn’t stop there. At Monticello, he created an experimental kitchen garden and vineyard, where he cultivated 330 varieties of 89 species of vegetables and herbs as well as 170 varieties of fruits.

Jefferson’s written plans for the gardens at Monticello.

In his “Garden Book,” a horticultural diary he wrote after his retirement, recording his achievements and failures, he noted:

“ I am constantly in my garden or farm, as exclusively employed out of doors as I was within doors when at Washington, and I find myself infinitely happier in my new mode of life.”

What does it mean to be Jeffersonian?

The Jeffersonian consists of self-reliance, an uncompromising dedication to liberty (over security, profit, comfort and tradition), an unambiguous wall of separation between church and state, first-rate public education, thoughtfulness and diffidence about America's place in the world, and a commitment to civility.

Jefferson brought genius (not to mention reason, good sense and idealism) to everything he undertook, and he believed that the purpose of America was not to seek glory and profit in the world's arena, but to build a nation of quality, justice and cultural achievement.


Francis Wayles Eppes was born in 1801, the second child of Maria (née Jefferson) and John Wayles Eppes. He was born at Monticello, his maternal grandfather's plantation in Albemarle County, Virginia. When he was born, his parents resided at Mont Blanco plantation in Chesterfield. He was the only one of three Eppes children to survive childhood.

After his mother died in 1804 when he was three, soon after the birth of her third child, Eppes' father moved his household and slaves from Mont Blanco, to another of his plantations, Millbrook, in Buckingham County. Francis spent much time at nearby Monticello with his maternal aunt Martha Randolph and his grandfather, the widower Thomas Jefferson. At his father's plantation, he was cared for by the slave Betsy Hemmings, later called "Mam Bess." Jefferson had given her to Eppes' parents at their wedding. She was the daughter of Mary Hemings and the granddaughter of Betty Hemings, who was held by the Jeffersons at Monticello. Among his early nurses was Critta Hemings Bowles, an aunt of Betsy Hemmings. [2]

Eppes studied law, but never completed his legal studies.

Marriage and family Edit

At the age of 21, Francis married Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph (January 16, 1801 – April 15, 1835), the daughter of Thomas Eston Randolph and his wife, Jane Cary (Randolph) Randolph, on November 18, 1822. [3] They moved to Poplar Forest plantation in Bedford County, Virginia, which was built by his grandfather Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had originally planned this plantation for his daughter Maria, but she died in April 1804 at age 25. He designated it as his grandson Francis' inheritance. Poplar Forest was the only Jefferson property to pass to the intended heir. Jefferson's debts disrupted the rest of his bequests after his death in 1826.

In 1827 after Jefferson's death, Eppes purchased and freed the elder slave Critta Hemings Bowles, who had been his fourth nurse when he was an infant. She had long been married to Zachariah Bowles, a free man of color. [2]

The Eppeses lived at Poplar Forest until 1828, when they decided to move to Florida. By that time they had buried three children at the Jefferson family cemetery at Monticello. Both his father and Jefferson had died by then. Believing Poplar Forest to be too isolated, Eppes was ready to try his fortunes elsewhere. Florida was being rapidly developed for cotton production. In 1829, he moved with his family to Leon County, Florida, settling just east of Tallahassee.

Such moves broke up both planters' and slaves' families. The Eppes took numerous slaves with them, among them grown descendants of Betsy Hemmings, who was given to Francis by his father as a wedding present. [4]

His first wife died in 1835 following the birth of her sixth child. Two years later, Eppes married Susan Margaret Ware Crouch (February 14, 1815 – September 1, 1887), the widowed daughter of U.S. Senator Nicholas Ware, of Georgia. [5] [6] They had seven children together. With his two wives, Eppes was father to a total of thirteen children, but at least three died in childhood in Virginia.

He established the Francis Eppes Plantation in Leon County, Florida, raising cotton as a commodity crop by the use of extensive slave labor. In the antebellum period, cotton prices were high and there was extensive trade with England.

Eppes took an active interest in educational issues in Florida. In Tallahassee, he began 35 years of distinguished service to his community. He was a founding member of the Episcopal Church there. In 1833, Eppes was appointed one of fourteen justices of the peace in Leon County. Eppes was elected to serve as a Deputy to the 1838 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, held that year in Philadelphia. Among its actions, the Convention officially admitted the Diocese of Florida.

Eppes first served as intendant (mayor) of Tallahassee from 1841–1844 and then again from 1856–1857. His first election was largely due to a rise in sentiment against lawlessness, particularly duels among leading men in territorial Florida. Florida Militia Brigadier General Leigh Read had recently been killed by Willis Alston, in a case attracting much attention. Read had earlier killed Willis' brother Augustus Alston in a duel. [7] [8] [9] Eppes appointed six officers, who are considered the beginning of the Tallahassee Police Department.

In 1851, the Florida Legislature authorized two seminaries of higher learning in Florida. One seminary was to be located west of the Suwannee River and one to the east of the river. In 1854, Eppes tried to gain approval for the western seminary to be located in Tallahassee, but was rejected.

In 1856, Eppes initiated the proposal again and offered to fund an initial endowment of $10,000, plus a $2,000 per year stipend and a new building. The legislature accepted the proposal. That year, the existing Florida Institute in Tallahassee was designated as the State Seminary West of the Suwannee River. Classes began in 1857. Eppes served on the seminary's board of trustees for eleven years for the last eight of those years, he served as president of the board. The seminary later developed as Florida State University.

Eppes died on May 30, 1881 in Orlando, Florida, and was buried at Greenwood Cemetery. Three of his children by his first wife had died earlier in Virginia. They were buried at the Jefferson family cemetery at Monticello. Also buried there were Francis' Jefferson grandparents and mother, Maria. Later, at least three of his grandchildren were also buried there. Since the late 19th century, the cemetery has been owned and operated by the Monticello Association, a private lineage society of descendants of Jefferson and Martha Wayles. (This property is separate from the Monticello plantation, which is owned and operated by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.)

In 1995, Florida State University established the Jefferson–Eppes Trophy to honor Eppes and his grandfather Thomas Jefferson. A statue of Eppes was installed to commemorate him at the university and unveiled in January 2002. [10] In 2016, the Eppes statue was the subject of a non-binding removal referendum introduced by the FSU chapter of Students for a Democratic Society because Eppes owned slaves. The referendum failed by a vote of 71% to 29%. In May 2018, an FSU panel voted to recommended the removal of the statue as well as the Eppes designation at Eppes Hall. [11] On July 20, 2018, maintenance crews removed the statue from Westcott Plaza. [12] On May 12, 2019, the statue was relocated to another part of the campus. [13] On July 24, 2020, the statue was removed from the campus. [14]


In introducing Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, William Peden declares this mass of information and commentary to be "the most important scientific . book written by an American before 1785."1 In Notes, readers find inventories and analyses of stream flow, lakes and coastlines, topography, soils, climate, minerals, plants, and animals. Jefferson's contributions, though not termed geological at the time, are such in a modern sense. His "Rivers" section stands as a prototype of publications produced a century later by the U.S. Geological Survey. His discourse on minerals set the pattern for the mineral commodity surveys now published each year by the U.S. Geological Survey.2 In Notes Jefferson described field methods he developed to place time lines on layers of soils — an important contribution to stratigraphy, a nascent branch of geology.

With his one book, Jefferson demonstrated he was more than a tabulator and analyzer of information. He also promoted the scientific method and used the occasion to criticize unscientific thinking. This expansion of scope led Jefferson into controversies that stayed with him throughout his lifetime.

In the Paris edition of Notes (1785), Jefferson discussed a chemical theory of the formation of shells found on mountaintops. Silvio Bedini relates how the passage " . brought [Jefferson] considerable criticism because it was inconsistent with the Biblical account of Noah's flood."3 That criticism was mild compared to what Peden terms the "long and frequently violent controversy" in opposition to the analyses Jefferson presented in the English language edition of Notes, published in 1788.4 Readers in America could then assume, from Jefferson's analysis of the physics of the atmosphere, that he was rejecting the literal truth of Noah's flood.5 In an attempt seemingly directed at diluting the controversy, Jefferson examined three conflicting explanations of how shells came to present 15,000 feet above sea level, and he discounted all three "explanations" as equally unsatisfactory. He tried to clarify his position by stating a cardinal principle of science: " . we must be contented to acknowledge, that this … is as yet unsolved. Ignorance is preferable to error and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong."6 Jefferson's critics were far from content or satisfied.

Jefferson wrote and perfected Notes when he was in his late thirties — that is, before his involvement in bitter political fights. Historians are in general agreement that Jefferson was thin-skinned about criticism and became more so with age. In 1803, Jefferson wrote: "Every word which goes from me, whether verbally or in writing, becomes the subject of so much malignant distortion, & perverted construction, that I am obliged to caution my friends against … my letters getting into the public . "7

The President Jefferson who retired to Monticello six years later could not escape criticism from determined opponents but he could act to reduce the power of controversy to defeat his aims. This is most evident in his strong advice on the teaching of geology at the University of Virginia — statements from Jefferson that seem to run contra to his principles.

Jefferson's proposals of curricula for the fledgling University of Virginia8 included a recommendation that has been interpreted as de-emphasizing the study of geology.9 This stance by Jefferson is puzzling, given Jefferson's pioneering work in several fields of the science.

In writing to the Natural History Professor John Emmet, Jefferson stated his case for de-emphasis, with reference to the purpose of the academic course on geology: "to learn, as far as observation has informed us, the ordinary arrangement of the different strata … in the earth …. but the dreams about the modes of creation, enquiries whether our globe has been formed by the agency of fire or water, how many millions of years it has cost Vulcan or Neptune to produce … is too idle to be worth a single hour of any man's life."10

On reading that letter, puzzlement grows: Is this the same man who wrote: "this institution [the University of Virginia] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. for here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."11

But a plausible explanation is available if we consult biographies of leading geologists of Jefferson's time, and consider Jefferson's general aversion to unproductive argument and lessons he learned about avoiding controversy.

Jefferson's use of the words "Vulcan" and "Neptune" were deliberate these are the battle flags flying in a bitter controversy raging between geologists throughout the last half of Jefferson's lifetime. One school of thought, the Vulcanists, led by the eminent Scottish geologist, James Hutton, adhered passionately to the belief that rocks resulted from volcanism the opposing school, the Neptunists, led by the Saxon mineralogist, Abraham Werner, held unflinchingly to the belief that chemical precipitation was the agent of rock formation. The Fentons, in their seminal work on the controversy conclude: "[This struggle] … divided geologists into two camps whose members battered each other with words as often as they broke stones with hammer."12


Madoc's purported father, Owain Gwynedd, was a real king of Gwynedd during the 12th century and is widely considered one of the greatest Welsh rulers of the Middle Ages. His reign was fraught with battles with other Welsh princes and with Henry II of England. At his death in 1170, a bloody dispute broke out between his heir, Hywel the Poet-Prince, and Owain's younger sons, Maelgwn, Rhodri, and led by Dafydd, two the children of the Princess-Dowager Cristen ferch Gronwy and one the child of Gwladus ferch Llywarch. Owain had at least 13 children from his two wives and several more children born out of wedlock but legally acknowledged under Welsh tradition. According to the legend, Madoc and his brother (Rhirid or Rhiryd) were among them, though no contemporary record attests to this.

The 1584 Historie of Cambria by David Powel says that Madoc was disheartened by this family fighting, and that he and Rhirid set sail from Llandrillo (Rhos-on-Sea) in the cantref of Rhos to explore the western ocean with a number of ships. [A] They purportedly discovered a distant and abundant land in 1170 where about one hundred men, women and children disembarked to form a colony. According to Humphrey Llwyd's 1559 Cronica Walliae, Madoc and some others returned to Wales to recruit additional settlers. [ citation needed ] After gathering several ships of men, women and children, the Prince and his recruiters sailed west a second time to "that Westerne countrie" and ported in "Mexico" [ clarification needed ] , never to return to Wales again. [6]

Madoc's landing place has also been suggested to be "Mobile, Alabama Florida Newfoundland Newport, Rhode Island Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Virginia points in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean including the mouth of the Mississippi River the Yucatan the isthmus of Tehuantepec, Panama the Caribbean coast of South America various islands in the West Indies and the Bahamas along with Bermuda and the mouth of the Amazon River". [7] Although the folklore tradition acknowledges that no witness ever returned from the second colonial expedition to report this, the story continues that Madoc's colonists travelled up the vast river systems of North America, raising structures and encountering friendly and unfriendly tribes of Native Americans before finally settling down somewhere in the Midwest or the Great Plains. [8] They are reported to be the founders of various civilisations such as the Aztec, the Maya and the Inca. [7]

The Madoc story evidently originated in medieval romance. There are allusions to what may have been a sea voyage tale akin to The Voyage of Saint Brendan, [ citation needed ] but no detailed version of it survives.

The earliest certain reference to a seafaring Madoc or Madog appears in a cywydd by the Welsh poet Maredudd ap Rhys (fl. 1450–83) of Powys, which mentions a Madog who is a son or descendant of Owain Gwynedd and who voyaged to the sea. The poem is addressed to a local squire, thanking him for a fishing net on a patron's behalf. Madog is referred to as "Splendid Madog . / Of Owain Gwynedd's line, / He desired not land . / Or worldy wealth but the sea."

A Flemish writer called Willem, in around 1250 to 1255, [ citation needed ] identifies himself in his poem Van den Vos Reinaerde as "Willem die Madoc maecte" (Willem, the author of Madoc, known as "Willem the Minstrel" [B] ). Though no copies of "Madoc" survive, Gwyn Williams tells us that "In the seventeenth century a fragment of a reputed copy of the work is said to have been found in Poitiers". It provides no topographical details relating to North America, but mentions a sea that may be the Sargasso Sea and says that Madoc (not related to Owain in the fragment according to Gwyn Williams) discovered an island paradise, where he intended "to launch a new kingdom of love and music". [10] [11] There are also claims that the Welsh poet and genealogist Gutun Owain wrote about Madoc before 1492. Gwyn Williams in Madoc, the Making of a Myth, makes it clear that Madoc is not mentioned in any of Owain's surviving manuscripts. [12]

The Madoc legend attained its greatest prominence during the Elizabethan era, when Welsh and English writers used it to bolster British claims in the New World versus those of Spain. The earliest surviving full account of Madoc's voyage, the first to make the claim that Madoc had come to America before Columbus, [C] appears in Humphrey Llwyd's Cronica Walliae (published in 1559), [13] an English adaptation of the Brut y Tywysogion. [14] [D]

John Dee used Llwyd's manuscript when he submitted the treatise "Title Royal" to Queen Elizabeth in 1580, which stated that "The Lord Madoc, sonne to Owen Gwynned, Prince of Gwynedd, led a Colonie and inhabited in Terra Florida or thereabouts" in 1170. [2] The story was first published by George Peckham's as A True Report of the late Discoveries of the Newfound Landes (1583), and like Dee it was used to support English claims to the Americas. [16] It was picked up in David Powel's Historie of Cambria (1584), [16] [E] and Richard Hakluyt's The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589). Dee went so far as to assert that Brutus of Troy and King Arthur as well as Madoc had conquered lands in the Americas and therefore their heir Elizabeth I of England had a priority claim there. [18] [19]

Thomas Herbert popularised the stories told by Dee and Powel, adding more detail from sources unknown, suggesting that Madoc may have landed in Canada, Florida, or even Mexico, and reporting that Mexican sources stated that they used currachs. [20]

The "Welsh Native Americans" were not claimed until later. Morgan Jones's tract is the first account, and was printed by The Gentleman's Magazine, launching a slew of publications on the subject. [21] There is no genetic or archaeological evidence that the Mandan are related to the Welsh, however, and John Evans and Lewis and Clark reported they had found no Welsh Indians. [22] The Mandan are still alive today the tribe was decimated by a smallpox epidemic in 1837–1838 and banded with the nearby Hidatsa and Arikara into the Three Affiliated Tribes. [23]

The Welsh Native American legend was revived in the 1840s and 1850s this time the Zunis, Hopis, and Navajo were claimed to be of Welsh descent by George Ruxton (Hopis, 1846), P. G. S. Ten Broeck (Zunis, 1854), and Abbé Emmanuel Domenach (Zunis, 1860), among others. [24] Brigham Young became interested in the supposed Hopi-Welsh connection: in 1858 Young sent a Welshman with Jacob Hamblin to the Hopi mesas to check for Welsh-speakers there. None was found, but in 1863 Hamblin brought three Hopi men to Salt Lake City, where they were "besieged by Welshmen wanting them to utter Celtic words", to no avail. [24]

Llewellyn Harris, a Welsh-American Mormon missionary who visited the Zuni in 1878, wrote that they had many Welsh words in their language, and that they claimed their descent from the "Cambaraga"—white men who had come by sea 300 years before the Spanish. However, Harris's claims have never been independently verified. [25]

On 26 November 1608, Peter Wynne, a member of Captain Christopher Newport's exploration party to the villages of the Monacan people, Virginia Siouan speakers above the falls of the James River in Virginia, wrote a letter to John Egerton, informing him that some members of Newport's party believed the pronunciation of the Monacans' language resembled "Welch", which Wynne spoke, and asked Wynne to act as interpreter. The Monacan were among those non-Algonquian tribes collectively referred to by the Algonquians as "Mandoag". [26]

Another early settler to claim an encounter with a Welsh-speaking Native American was the Reverend Morgan Jones, who told Thomas Lloyd, William Penn's deputy, that he had been captured in 1669 in North Carolina by members of tribe identified as the Doeg, who were said to be a part of the Tuscarora. (However, there is no evidence that the Doeg proper were part of the Tuscarora. [27] ) According to Jones, the chief spared his life when he heard Jones speak Welsh, a tongue he understood. Jones' report says that he then lived with the Doeg for several months preaching the Gospel in Welsh and then returned to the thirteen American colonies of British America where he recorded his adventure in 1686. The historian Gwyn A. Williams comments, "This is a complete farrago and may have been intended as a hoax". [28]

Folk tradition has long claimed that a site called "Devil's Backbone" at Rose Island, about fourteen miles upstream from Louisville, Kentucky, was once home to a colony of Welsh-speaking Indians. The eighteenth-century Missouri River explorer John Evans of Waunfawr in Wales took up his journey in part to find the Welsh-descended "Padoucas" or "Madogwys" tribes. [29]

In northwest Georgia, legends of the Welsh have become part of the myth surrounding the unknown origin of a mysterious rock formation on Fort Mountain. Historian, Gwyn A. Williams, author of Madoc: The Making of a Myth, suggests that Cherokee tradition concerning that ruin may have been influenced by contemporary European-American legends of the " Welsh American Indians." [30] A newspaper writer in Georgia, Walter Putnam, mentioned the Madoc legend in 2008. [31] The story of Welsh explorers is one of several legends surrounding that site.

In northeastern Alabama, there is a theory that the "Welsh Caves" in DeSoto State Park were built by Madoc's party, since local native tribes were not known to have ever practised such stonework or excavation as was found on the site. [32]

In 1810, John Sevier, the first governor of Tennessee, wrote to his friend Major Amos Stoddard about a conversation he had in 1782 with the old Cherokee chief Oconostota concerning ancient fortifications built along the Alabama River. The chief allegedly told him that the forts were built by a white people called "Welsh", as protection against the ancestors of the Cherokee, who eventually drove them from the region. [33] Sevier had also written in 1799 of the alleged discovery of six skeletons in brass armour bearing the Welsh coat-of-arms. [34] He claims that Madoc and the Welsh were first in Alabama. [35]

In 1824, Thomas S. Hinde wrote a letter to John S. Williams, editor of The American Pioneer, regarding the Madoc Tradition. In the letter, Hinde claimed to have gathered testimony from numerous sources that stated Welsh people under Owen Ap Zuinch had come to America in the twelfth century, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus. Hinde claimed that in 1799, six soldiers had been dug up near Jeffersonville, Indiana, on the Ohio River with breastplates that contained Welsh coats-of-arms. [36]

Encounters with Welsh American Indians Edit

Thomas Jefferson had heard of Welsh-speaking Indian tribes. In a letter written to Meriwether Lewis by Jefferson on 22 January 1804, he speaks of searching for the Welsh Native Americans "said to be up the Missouri". [37] [38] The historian Stephen E. Ambrose writes in his history book Undaunted Courage that Thomas Jefferson believed the "Madoc story" to be true and instructed the Lewis and Clark Expedition to find the descendants of the Madoc Welsh Indians. [39] [40]

Mandans Edit

In all, at least thirteen real tribes, five unidentified tribes, and three unnamed tribes have been suggested as "Welsh Native Americans." [41] Eventually, the legend settled on identifying the Welsh Native American with the Mandan people, who were said to differ from their neighbours in culture, language, and appearance. The painter George Catlin suggested the Mandans were descendants of Madoc and his fellow voyagers in North American Indians (1841) he found the round Mandan Bull Boat similar to the Welsh coracle, and he thought the advanced architecture of Mandan villages must have been learned from Europeans (advanced North American societies such as the Mississippian and Hopewell traditions were not well known in Catlin's time). Supporters of this claim have drawn links between Madoc and the Mandan mythological figure "Lone Man", who, according to one tale, protected some villagers from a flooding river with a wooden corral. [42]

Several attempts to confirm Madoc's historicity have been made, but historians of early America, notably Samuel Eliot Morison, regard the story as a myth. [43] Madoc's legend has been a notable subject for poets, however. The most famous account in English is Robert Southey's long 1805 poem Madoc, which uses the story to explore the poet's freethinking and egalitarian ideals. [44] Fittingly, Southey wrote Madoc to help finance a trip of his own to America, [45] where he and Samuel Taylor Coleridge hoped to establish a Utopian state they called a "Pantisocracy". Southey's poem in turn inspired the twentieth-century poet Paul Muldoon to write Madoc: A Mystery, which won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1992. [46] [47] It explores what may have happened if Southey and Coleridge had succeeded in coming to America to found their "ideal state". [48] In Russian, the noted poet Alexander S. Pushkin composed a short poem "Madoc in Wales" (Медок в Уаллах, 1829) on the topic. [49]

Botany and Good Food

The study of botany, which Jefferson considered among “the most valuable of the sciences,” served as another foundation for his interests in gardening and landscape design. His excursion through New England and upstate New York with James Madison in 1791 was primarily a botanical ramble, and the following year a woodland wildflower, Jeffersonia diphylla, or twinleaf, was named in his honor by Benjamin Smith Barton, the most prominent botanist in America. At a meeting of the American Philosophical Society in 1792, Barton proclaimed that Jefferson’s “knowledge of natural history … especially in botany and in zoology … is equalled by that of few persons in the United States.” Jefferson appraised native plants for their usefulness. A key goal of the Jefferson-insitiated Lewis and Clark Expedition was to find new economic species. He proudly distributed seeds of American trees and shrubs to European naturalists, cultivated indigenous New World vegetables in his Parisian garden at the Hôtel de Salm, and planted native wildflowers and ornamentals at Monticello and Poplar Forest. According to his Washington friend Margaret Bayard Smith, Jefferson hoped to plant the President’s House “exclusively with trees, shrubs and flowers indigenous to our native soil.”

Jefferson’s interest in gardening was also furthered by his appreciation for good food, particularly fruits and vegetables. He wrote , “I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, & that … as a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principal diet.” Using data he compiled as president, early in his retirement he created a chart showing the first and last appearance of thirty-seven vegetables in the Washington farmers market. According to Smith, Jefferson regularly visited foreign embassies, which vied with each other to provide the most unusual type of vegetable. Jefferson, in turn, procured and passed the seeds to local farmers with instructions on the vegetables’ cultivation. He also directed his French household administrator, Etienne Lemaire, to pay the highest price for the produce brought to the market earliest in the season. Although the President’s House included a small nursery bed of endive for winter salads, Jefferson’s sketches for ornamental landscaping there were never executed.

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the most influential of the United States' Founding Fathers. His portrait graces the US two dollar bill and nickel.

As a political philosopher, Jefferson was a man of enlightenment and knew many intellectual leaders in Britain and France.

Jefferson supported states rights, limited federal government power, and separation of church and state.

He believed that every American was entitled to an education adequate enough to give a person the skills and abilities needed to vote. Beyond that, he believed , should be determined on a person by person basis. Not everyone is suited to a college education.

Jefferson served as the wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), first United States Secretary of State (1789–1793) and second Vice President (1797–1801).

Jefferson was a man who wore many hats including horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, author, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia.

Jefferson died on the Fourth of July, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. He died a few hours before John Adams. There are stories that while Adams lay dying, he spoke of Thomas, unaware that Jefferson had already passed away.

Thomas Jefferson's Alma Mater was the College of William and Mary.

Thomas Jefferson in his own words

From the pen of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just that His justice cannot sleep forever That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event."

--Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.

"I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ."

--The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385.

Because of the controversies that have arisen in regards to Jefferson's possible relationship with the slave Sally Hemings, which dates back to blatant accusations during his lifetime, [2] several scientific teams have attempted to validate common DNA among descendants. The uncertainty of his paternity of these children is still a subject of discussion and research. For that reason his relationship with them is listed as Uncertain on Wikitree.

Wikipedia site for more information here.[1]

Jefferson's Y-DNA is of type found in Haplogroup T (formerly K2) and is considered fairly rare according to the same article. You may read more about Haplogroup T here.[2]

More DNA information for Thomas Jefferson and other famous people is available on Wikipedia link is here.[3]

Fashion Design Film 2021

Buoyed by student creativity and strength at a time when it’s not possible to host an annual in-person fashion show—the showcase event of their graduating years—May 8 saw the virtual premiere of the program’s first-ever Fashion Design Film. “Our students are resilient and they have the ability to create the most beautiful work in some of the darkest times,” says Farai Simoyi, fashion design program director.