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How Monticello Works


Monticello after Jefferson
A bust of Thomas Jefferson by Jean Antoine Houdon.
A bust of Thomas Jefferson by Jean Antoine Houdon.
Nina Leen/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

While Monticello buzzed with energy when Jefferson ran the plantation, its legacy after Jefferson's death in 1826 was more dismal. Because he was so deeply in debt from costly restorations to Monticello and other expenses like books, his daughter Martha was forced to sell the house and all of its contents at auction.

A year later, the plantation, slaves, livestock and farming equipment were sold, too. An apothecary named James T. Barclay acquired the house and plantation in 1831 for the meager sum of $4,500. He sold it in 1834 to Uriah P. Levy, a disciple of Jefferson's religious philosophies. After his death, it was overtaken b­y the Confederate Army during the Civil War. At last, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation acquired it in 1923. Under the foundation, the house was restored and opened for tourists.

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