Thomas Jefferson - author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia - voiced the aspirations of a new America as no other individual of his era. As a public official, historian, philosopher, and plantation owner, he served his country for over five decades.
In 1769, Jefferson began building his house on the plantation that he inherited from his father, Peter Jefferson and although still incomplete in the 1780s, it impressed European visitors with the sophistication of its design. By 1809, Jefferson finished the rebuilding of Monticello begun in 1796. He transformed the original eight-room
Palladian villa, with its tall two-story portico, into a 21-room house designed in the fashionable Neoclassical style he saw in France.
Jefferson, an avid horticulturist, also created the gardens at Monticello, which were a botanic showpiece, a source of food, and an experimental laboratory of ornamental and useful plants from around the world. He experimented with plant species brought over from Europe and was particularly interested in developing vineyards.