This course provides an overview of Thomas Jefferson's work and perspectives presented by the University of Virginia in partnership with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Together, UVA and Monticello are recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Week 1 - Thomas Jefferson, American Icon
Thomas Jefferson is an American icon. He has also been one of the most polarizing and controversial figures in American history. In this introductory module, we’ll explore how Jefferson’s reputation has changed and evolved over the last two centuries. We’ll...
- Week 2 - Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence
No document is more closely associated with Jefferson than the Declaration of Independence. Listing it as the first of three achievements on his tombstone, Jefferson clearly believed the Declaration to be of profound importance. Generations of Americans have...
- Week 3 - Jefferson and Slavery
The man who wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” was a lifelong slaveowner whose affluence rested on the exploitation of hundreds of African Americans. In this module, we travel to Montalto, the mountain overlooking Jeffer...
- Week 4 - Jefferson and Religion
The role of religion in public life continues to be a topic of debate today in both the United States and around the world. Thomas Jefferson was never happier than when his Bill for Religious Freedom was finally enacted in Virginia in 1786. In this module, w...
- Week 5 - Jefferson and Education
Founding the University of Virginia in 1819 was the most obvious example of Jefferson’s interest in education, but it was by no means the first time he considered the subject. Indeed, education was one of Jefferson’s constant preoccupations. In this session,...
- Week 6 - 'The earth belongs to the living'
In 1789, Jefferson wrote a letter to James Madison from Paris in which he asserted that “the earth belongs to the living.” Calculating that a single generation could be said to last nineteen years, he proposed that no debts should be incurred that could not b...
- Week 7 - Final Exam
Professor Peter S. Onuf
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor, Emeritus
Corcoran Department of History