This is the slave graveyard at Monticello.
The debate about Thomas Jefferson and slavery is now completely settled. Thanks to DNA and to scholars such as Annette Gordon-Reed exploring in great detail and nuance Jefferson’s relationships with slavery, which of course included sexual, only the most inveterate and racist of self-proclaimed Jefferson defenders deny this history. Who definitely does not deny the history is the people who run Monticello. Whereas slavery used to be a minor part of the tour, today, there is no way to escape it. Yes, there are special slave tours (which I haven’t done) but every visitor receives a huge dose of how Jefferson built his paradise on the backs on Africans. Much like Gettysburg, an iconic place that used to serve a historical memory that erased race now centers it in a highly useful way. The sign at the slave burying ground with the slave names, as best as can be known, is only one small example of this.
It’s hard to know too much about the lives of these slaves except in the most general terms. Given the option of writing many words delineating the lives of slaves or writing none, as there is no good way to write just a few, I will choose the latter, assuming I don’t really need to explain all this yet again to LGM readers.
Not sure that I exactly need to say where the Monticello graveyard is, as I usually do in these posts. I will say that this grave visit was made possible by LGM reader donations. This is exactly the kind of grave visit I think you all want with what you have contributed and I hope you will consider doing so again as I prepare for a couple more trips to the South in the late spring. Previous posts in this series are archived here.