Here's Who Inherited Thomas Jefferson's Money When He Died - Grunge (2023)

Here's Who Inherited Thomas Jefferson's Money When He Died - Grunge (1)

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It was July 4th, 1828.Thomas Jeffersonjust before dying. He spent his last days in Monticello, his neoclassical plantation house. In the eight years since his visit to Warm Springs, Virginia, his health has deteriorated. There he became infected with the virus through a mineral bath. Although he still rides daily and his sanity is intact, his many ailments are only getting worse. His ailments included kidney infections, swollen joints, and pneumonia (viaMonticello). By this time, Jefferson had been bedridden for eight days, but his mind was still reasonably clear.

That morning he was awakened by the sounds of the anniversary celebration—bells pealed, cannons rumbled—celebrating the Declaration of Independence he had written 50 years earlier. Jefferson's servant asked, "Sir, do you know what day it is?" He replied, "Oh yes!... It's the glorious Fourth of July; God bless you all" (loudPost from Saturday afternoon)。

An hour before his death, some of his guests and guests of the jubilee celebrations gathered at the bedside of the third president. They asked him if he would like to toast to this evening. He replied, "I'm going to give you 'independence forever.'" When asked if he had anything else to add, he replied, "Not a single syllable" (via The Saturday Evening Post). A few hours after Jefferson's death, Jefferson's friend and at times rival, John Adams, died in Quincy, Massachusetts. The country lost its second and third presidents on the same day (according to the Saturday Evening Post).

Clear two presidential stands

AlthoughThomas Jefferson and John AdamsThe two presidents died on the same day and their estates were handled very differently. Although John Adams was heavily in debt throughout his life, John Adams died debt free and owned 275 acres of land. His son, John Quincy Adams, saved his father by selling the house and paying off some of his investments. Thanks to her son's ransom, after the death of John Adams, she was able to leave land and books in Quincy, Massachusetts, to open a school (according toPost from Saturday afternoon)。

Things did not go well for Thomas Jefferson and much of his will never made it to its intended recipients. Due to a number of factors, Jefferson spent most of his life in debt. Most of his income depends on farming (which isn't his strongest skill), coupled with a lavish lifestyle and debt inherited from family and friends (throughMonticello)。

Jefferson spent his final months with his affairs. He knew that as the founder of the constitution and a former president, he was being treated leniently. If his debt had passed to his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, she would not have received the same leniency. So Jefferson and his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, devised a plan to solve their financial problems: the lottery (according to the Saturday Evening Post).

disappointing result

Here's Who Inherited Thomas Jefferson's Money When He Died - Grunge (3)

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settleThomas JeffersonTo pay off his debts before his death, he and his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, spent most of their fortune on lottery tickets. Despite its initial popularity, the lottery was stopped when a group of well-meaning New Yorkers offered to fundraise. To his disappointment, the funds collected were far from sufficient. In the meantime, the lottery has lost a lot of momentum (according toPost from Saturday afternoon)。

Always an optimist, Jefferson died believing that the lottery would solve his difficult financial situation. "He died peacefully," said his daughter Martha, whose hopes of winning the lottery were so high (viaMonticello). He even wrote to his grandson: “Because this calamity has been preserved in my last days when I have little left. I officially confess that I've lived a long life, compared to most others I've experienced less suffering." (Saturday Night Post). His optimism did not match reality, and public enthusiasm for the lottery waned. Ultimately, his family canceled the lottery altogether.

After Jefferson's death, he feared his daughter Martha would inherit his debts. In 1831 he sold Monticello and 130 enslaved slaves (via The Saturday Evening Post). Eventually, his grandson assumed responsibility for paying off his grandfather's debts, with the final payment coming 50 years after Jefferson's death (according to Monticello).

Freedom belongs to only a few.

Here's Who Inherited Thomas Jefferson's Money When He Died - Grunge (4)

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It is well known that Thomas Jefferson wrote that "all men are created equal," but he was unsure what that statement actually meant.Smithsonian MagazineJefferson reportedly traded his early abolitionist beliefs for personal fortune gains.slaveryhe made her a planter. Historian David Brion Davis wrote, "He was one of the first statesmen in the world to advocate concrete action to limit and abolish slavery." However, Jefferson's protests later "actually ceased" (fromSmithsonian Magazine)。

When George Washington denied slavery and planned to free slaves at Mount Vernon, Jefferson mortgaged the slaves he owned to build Monticello (according to Smithsonian Magazine). Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves during his lifetime, but freed only two before his death. His will released only five others (fromWashington Post)。

The auction resulted in the slaves remaining in Monticello being separated from their families. The houses were sold to as many as eight different buyers. The families of the five freedmen were not spared either. Released under Jefferson's will, Joseph Fossett described how each member of his family was "auctioned like a horse." He worked for 10 years in exchange for his family's freedom. In the end he only saved his wife, but his four children were still forced into slavery.

What happened to Sally Hemings?

Here's Who Inherited Thomas Jefferson's Money When He Died - Grunge (5)

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Brothers Madison and Eston Hemings were two freed slaves in Thomas Jefferson's will. Historical records and DNA evidence indicate that Jefferson is his biological father (according toNew York Times). Little is known about Jefferson's relationship with his mother, Sally Hemings, a slave incarcerated at Monticello. Jefferson had six children aged 16 (fromMonticello). Leslie Greene Bowman, President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, discusses the complexity of writing to Monticello visitors about their relationship: "We don't really know what the dynamic is." He told the New York Times, "Is it a rape ? Are there emotions? We felt we had to present different perspectives, even the most painful ones.”

We know that Sally Hemings negotiated for her children's freedom. Hemings accompanied the Jefferson family to Paris, where they experienced legal freedom and a vibrant cultural, artistic, and intellectual environment. Two years later, she became pregnant and refused to return to Virginia unless Jefferson agreed to "extraordinary privileges" for her and freedom for her future children. Four years before Jefferson's death, his daughters Beverly and Harriet were allowed to leave Monticello. Though never officially released, they slipped undetected into white society but failed to mention their (Monticello) roots or heritage. Jefferson never released Sally Hemings. After Jefferson's death, her daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, unofficially released her and allowed her to move to Charlottesville.Virginia, living with their children (viaMonticello)。

What else was in Jefferson's will?

Here's Who Inherited Thomas Jefferson's Money When He Died - Grunge (6)

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In addition to Monticello Plantation, Thomas Jefferson also owned and operated Poplar Grove Plantation. In 1773, Jefferson inherited 4,819 acres in Bedford County, Virginia from his father-in-law. The plantation was mainly used for growing tobacco and was run by foremen and about 100 enslaved slaves (until 1940).Monticello). The farm is the most popular.retreat

When Eppes married in 1822, Jefferson passed the estate on to his grandson, Francis Wayles Eppes. When Epps later learned that his grandfather was in financial difficulties, he attempted to return the cottonwood grove, but Jefferson refused. Jefferson later officially bequeathed the plantation to Epps. Two years later, Epps sold the poplar grove and moved to Florida, where he established another plantation, L'Eau Noir (according toMonticello)。

Like many of Jefferson's endeavors, his debts jeopardize the fate of his personal library. In his will, he expresses his desire to donate his books to the University of Virginia. However, to settle posthumous debts, the Monticello Library collection was sold at two estate auctions, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Philadelphia. Francis Eppes followed suit and sold New York's Poplar Grove Library in 1873 (until 1873).Encyclopedia of Virginia). Thomas Jefferson's will seemed like a fitting closing document for the former president. The conflict between his desires and reality speaks to his complicated legacy.



Here's Who Inherited Thomas Jefferson's Money When He Died - Grunge? ›

Jefferson's estate, and debt, were inherited by his daughter, Martha Washington Jefferson Randolph. She soon began selling off the estate. She was forced to sell Monticello in 1831. She also sold the 130 slaves still held on the estate.

Was Thomas Jefferson rich when he died? ›

Thomas Jefferson died with debts of $107,000, which is roughly $2 million today. How did he get into this financial disaster? Jefferson's debt wasn't entirely due to business failures, poor investments, or a shopaholic wife. Jefferson inherited a significant amount of debt from his father-in-law in 1774.

What happened to Thomas Jefferson's wealth? ›

When Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, he left a debt of $107,000, over a million dollars in today's money. Despite his efforts, the plantation was unprofitable, and his expenses were heavy. He died believing a public lottery would raise the money to keep his daughter, her family, and the enslaved workers at Monticello.

Where did Thomas Jefferson's money come from? ›

He owed his good fortune to the financial success of his father, Peter Jefferson, a planter of some means. By the time of his death in 1757, the elder Jefferson owned 7,000 acres of land in western Virginia.

What was John Adams last words before he died? ›

Adams retired to his farm in Quincy. Here he penned his elaborate letters to Thomas Jefferson. Here on July 4, 1826, he whispered his last words: “Thomas Jefferson survives.” But Jefferson had died at Monticello a few hours earlier.

Did Thomas Jefferson inherit all of his slaves? ›

Jefferson acquired most of the over six hundred people he owned during his life through the natural increase of enslaved families. He acquired approximately 175 enslaved people through inheritance: about 40 from the estate of his father, Peter Jefferson, in 1764, and 135 from his father-in-law, John Wayles, in 1774.

What did Thomas Jefferson inherit when his father died? ›

Thomas Jefferson inherited his father's plantation, slaves, and livelihood. Peter Jefferson was a planter, surveyor, county justice, member of the colonial Virginia legislature, and a loyal citizen of the British Empire.

Did Thomas Jefferson get the US out of debt? ›

Q: Was Thomas Jefferson able to reduce the national debt? Yes, Thomas Jefferson succeeded in reducing the national debt from 83 million dollars to 57 million dollars over the course of his two terms of office.

How much land did Jefferson inherit? ›

In 1757, when Jefferson was 14, his father died, and so he inherited 5,000 acres (20 km2) of land, 52 slaves, livestock, his father's notable library, and a gristmill. This property was initially under control of his guardian, John Harvie Sr. He assumed full control over these properties at age 21.

Does Thomas Jefferson have any living heirs? ›

Thomas Jefferson does have living descendants, and in fact this became a very important issue in the 1990s. There are several people today who can prove beyond a reasonable doubt to be direct descendants of Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha.

How did Thomas Jefferson have so much debt? ›

Jefferson's Personal Debt Jefferson's personal debt resulted from a combination of his borrowing to support his lavish lifestyle, the ups and downs of plantation agriculture, and debt acquired from his father, father-in-law, and friends.

Is Thomas Jefferson on any type of money? ›

Money now in circulation bears the images of seven U.S. presidents — George Washington on the $1 bill and quarter coin, Thomas Jefferson on the $2 bill and nickel, Abraham Lincoln on the $5 bill and penny, Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill and Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 bill.

Was Thomas Jefferson's family rich or poor? ›

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell plantation. At the time the French and Indian War was still 10 years away and there was minimal discord between the Colonies and Great Britain. Jefferson was born into a wealthy family of plantation owners.

What was Jefferson's last words? ›

His last recorded words are "No, doctor, nothing more." But these are perhaps too prosaic to be memorable. "Is it the Fourth?" or "This is the Fourth of July" have come to be accepted as Jefferson's last words because they contain what everyone wants to find in such death-bed scenes: deeper meaning.

What were James Monroe's last words? ›

President five also had a predecessor on his mind when he passed away. James Monroe said, “I regret that I should leave this world without again beholding him.” He meant his best friend, James Madison. William McKinley was shot by an assassin.

Which 2 presidents died on July 4? ›

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826. Both were old men—Adams was 90, and Jefferson was 83—and both were ill, though Adams had been in comparatively robust health until just a few months earlier and Jefferson had been ill for an extended period.

Was Thomas Jefferson a Millionaire? ›

2. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) $212 million.

Were the founding fathers all wealthy? ›

A little over a century ago, Columbia University professor Charles A. Beard asserted that all the Founders were rich and in it for the money.

Which founding fathers died poor? ›

Many of the Founding Fathers had similar money troubles; George Washington and James Monroe died in debt. So did Alexander Hamilton, who was so poor that mourners at his funeral had to pass around a hat to gather the cash needed to bury him.


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