As we wound our way around the side of the mountains near the Rivanna River at Charlottesville, Virginia one considers what the condition may have been in a horse and buggy travelling from the White House some 270 miles away. Sitting on 5000 acres, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello has been described as an "...essay in architecture" that took Jefferson 40 years to complete. He oversaw all aspects of the design and decoration selecting lights from France, dumb waiters from Italy and natural light for reading; examples of what Jefferson, who spoke and wrote 7 languages (mostly self-taught) imparted to Virginians to add a sense of culture.
He was a practical man who believed in education for the masses and said "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." In 1806 Jefferson sold his library of 16,000 volumes for $23,000 although he once claimed he "...could not live without books." His is still considered to be the best among the best collections. Like many leaders he died in debt.
Monticello is the only world heritage site located in the United States.