In 1800, the land held by the new United States was small compared to what was called Louisiana. Louisiana was named for King Louis XIV. It was part of a large claimed area in the New World called New France. It stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.
What kinds of people settled the new lands of America? They had their own ideas about laws, religion, and what makes a good government. They were, in a word, independent.
In 1776, England was faraway, and people on this side of the Atlantic were heartily sick and tired of paying taxes on top of taxes to finance England's empty treasury. They were tired, too, of losing money by having the Crown interfere with their trade overseas. The men in the assemblies shouted that King George was a tyrant, so the King's men stopped the assemblies. When they still protested, the King brought in the army, making the colonists put them up in their houses. Any crimes the soldiers committed against the colonists were handled in the King's court by the King's judges.
The Founding Foodies, by Dave DeWitt, is an easy-going chat on matters historic and gastronomic in the Old Dominion and beyond. DeWitt dismisses some food writers’ contentions that colonial food was poor stuff. Having attended Mr. Jefferson’s university and being thus familiar with the third president’s many accomplishments, he knew that this common opinion was surely an overgeneralization. Jefferson, as well as Washington and Franklin, were trend-setters—learned men who easily absorbed and promulgated cultured styles of fashion, philosophy, architecture, and, yes, food, derived European trends, especially their French allies.
Besides these Founding Fathers’ culinary preferences, DeWitt also looks at curious historical periods of Virginia history where food, or lack of same, played a noteworthy role. At Jamestown, the horrors of spoiled ships’ rations and the colonists’ inexperience with hunting and fishing made them very dependent on the native tribes’ shared knowledge. They did learn to hunt and fish which was well since the supply ship was delayed, nearly resulting in John Smith being hanged. Desperate to turn a profit in the days before tobacco, the settlers took up fishing on a grand scale—thousands of pounds of salted cod to England and dried fish to Spain.
“But tho’ an old man, I am but a young gardener.”
—Letter from retired President Thomas Jefferson to famed portrait painter Charles Willson Peale
Author Peter Hatch has been the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello since 1977. When Annie Leibovitz came to historic site, she chose to photograph his hands, which have spent decades re-envisioning and recreating Jefferson’s beloved garden. “A Rich Spot of Earth” is a stunning visual and verbal tribute to both the historic gardens and their careful recovery. Follow these links to learn more about Monticello’s historic gardens and its Center for Historic Plants.
They say every family has its black sheep.
If your early education taught you something about Thomas Jefferson, it likely included facts on his part in authoring the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Jefferson was an ideas man—a deep thinker. Well-educated in the classics at the College of William and Mary, he stayed out of the usual undergrad troubles by keeping at his studies and socializing with the professors while classmates spent their time drinking, gambling, and racing their horses through the streets. As historian Michael Kranish relates in Flight from Monticello, he made plenty of friends, but they were from the same landed gentry class as himself.
On Tuesday, January 26, 2010, the University of Mary Washington invites the public to a free lecture on Thomas Jefferson.
By Sue Willis, CRRL Staff
From the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
Notes on the State of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson.
The only book that Jefferson wrote was undertaken as a matter-of-fact commentary on the resources and institutions of Virginia and developed into one of the more thoughtful books of the time. His cherished goals were the emancipation of slavery in Virginia and the reformation of Virginia's constitution. However, some of the ideas in his Notes are in opposition to these goals, giving creedence to Jefferson's reputation as a conflicted man. It should be noted that the Notes were written in 1781, and Jefferson did try to improve the slaves' lot before his death in 1826.
By Francis J. Brooke
Macfarlane & Fergusson Printers, Richmond, Va. 1849
Reprinted in The Magazine of History with Notes and Queries
Published by William Abbatt, 1921 Extra Number--No. 74
OUR first item is an unusual one—a family memoir, written by a father for his children and issued as a private publication, in a very small edition: so small that its existence is almost unknown, but one copy being recorded as sold, in many years.
The author was a distinguished lawyer and judge of Virginia, who had joined Washington's army at sixteen, and after the Revolution held various judicial offices, including that of judge of the Court of Appeals, which he held for forty years.
First, a Little History
Originally, strawberries were wild things. Their unique flavor and sweetness led to their cultivation. At Monticello, Thomas Jefferson grew Alpine Strawberries, a European import, among other varieties and shared the seeds with his friends. The plants were hardy and delicious, but the berries were tiny. Jefferson remarked that "100 would fill half a pint." Wild strawberries grew freely in abandoned fields and woods and were gathered by Indians and colonists alike.