Posted on July 11, 2022

Monticello Is Going Woke — And Trashing Thomas Jefferson’s Legacy in the Process

Mary Kay Linge and Jon Levine, New York Post, July 9, 2022

Monticello is going woke — and trashing Thomas Jefferson’s good name in the process.

The Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the Founding Father and America’s third president is one of our best-known national monuments, familiar from its appearance on the nickel since 1938.

But the hilltop mansion designed by Jefferson himself, once preserved as a tribute to the author of the Declaration of Independence, now offers visitors a harangue on the horrors of slavery.

“The whole thing has the feel of propaganda and manipulation,” Jeffrey Tucker, founder of the libertarian Brownstone Institute and a recent visitor, told The Post. “People on my tour seemed sad and demoralized.”

The new emphasis is the culmination of a 10-year effort to balance the historical record, officials of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the estate, have said.

But visitors complain that employees go out of their way to belittle Jefferson and his life.

“The tour guides play ‘besmirchment derby,’ never missing a chance to defame this brilliant, complex man,” Stephen Owen of Enochville, NC, wrote on Facebook.

“Half of the comments on Jefferson were critical,” wrote William Bailes of Chester, Virginia, in an online review after visiting in June. “Even my 11-year-old daughter noticed the bias.”

Tucker described his guide last month as “surly and dismissive” of Jefferson’s accomplishments.

“Someone asked if Jefferson had built a machine in the house, and the guide said, ‘Nah, he never built anything, he was just a tinkerer,’” Tucker recalled.

“It was ridiculous. He was the architect of this house and of the University of Virginia — what are you talking about?”


In the past, the managers of Monticello sanitized Jefferson’s history for the 25 million tourists who have flocked there since it was opened to the public in 1923. References to slavery were few, and signs labeled “Servants’ Quarters” marked sites where Jefferson’s slaves once lived.


But on a visit this week, The Post found, the grievance has become the predominant theme at Monticello, from the ticket booth in the visitors center — decorated with a contemporary painting of Jefferson’s weeping slaves — to its final gift-shop display.


Guides begin their outdoor tours of Monticello’s gardens and grounds by invoking the Native Americans who once lived on the land.

“How does that land come to be in European possession?” a guide named Justin asked an unresponsive group of vacationers from Germany. “A lot of violence, right?” he prodded.

Placards with conversation starters on the topic of civil rights festoon a patio outside the snack shop. “Is ‘all men are created equal’ being lived up to in our country today?” one reads. “When will we know when it is?” it continues — supplying a negative answer to the first question.

Books by critical race theory proponents Ibram X. Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates enjoy pride of place in the visitor center’s gift shop, while the smaller Farm Shop store displays five titles on Jefferson’s slaves — and a single biography of the man himself.

Interpretive signage throughout the estate places slavery at the forefront of each historical feature by adding the word “enslaved” before every possible job description, often multiple times: “an enslaved cook,” “enslaved postilions,” “Jefferson’s enslaved valet, Burwell Colbert.”

Meanwhile, a “trigger warning” alerts sensitive visitors outside a basement room that plays a video about Sally Hemings, the mixed-race slave who, many historians believe, bore Jefferson six unacknowledged children.


Guides launch into Hemings’ biography on the slightest pretext. During The Post’s tour, a description of an interior archway in the library, as well as a comment on Jefferson’s love of French cuisine in the dining room, gave Woodward openings to expound on what little is known of Hemings’ life.

“The entire focus was on his mistress,” complained Wesley Stevens of Tulsa, Okla. “They are trying to rewrite history to make it seem like the Founding Fathers were terrible immoral creatures that happened to start a country.”