Tuckahoe Plantation was the boyhood home of the Thomas Jefferson, the architect of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States. Tuckahoe was built during the 1730s by the Randolph family. This beautiful 18th-century mansion is open to the public and includes many historical exhibits that tell the story of Jefferson, the Randolph family, slavery, and colonial America in the 18th century. The plantation is protected by a preservation easement and is a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can explore the historic home as well as the gorgeous gardens on the grounds. The venue also hosts special events and allows parties to rent the historic plantation and gardens for special events.
Backstory and Context
Tuckahoe was built during an era where plantation slavery was expanding rapidly throughout colonial America. The original plantation consisted of 25,000 acres that included tobacco, livestock, wheat, as well as three mills. William Randolph and Maria Page were one of the first to start their family of five at Tuckahoe in the 1730’s. Tragedy hit in 1745 when both parents passed away leaving their children orphans at Tuckahoe. Luckily Randolph ensured his children would be taken care and granted his good friend Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph Jefferson guardians of his children before he passed away.
After the death of William Randolph, Peter and Jane Jefferson moved into Tuckahoe with their children which included their son Thomas Jefferson. Tuckahoe Plantation was where Thomas Jefferson spent his young days as a boy and where he would receive part of his early education. Jefferson was the third born out of ten siblings. In 1760, he started to attend the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He later began practicing law from 1764-1774 where he met his wife Martha Skelton.
The subject of slavery exposed the gulf between Thomas Jefferson's actions and philosophy. Although he believed in liberty, Jefferson's own liberty was only possible through the labor of the slaves whose labor procured his financial independence. Even when he was chosen to help draft the Declaration of Independence he still felt like African Americans were not up to the white standards. Jefferson was part of the Continental Congress until he resigned in 1776 and was reelected to the House of Delegates for Virginia. Thomas Jefferson had served as governor of Virginia before he became the first Secretary of State under President George Washington.
In 1796, Jefferson decided to run for president against John Adams. Although he opposed Adams and the Federalists, he became Vice President after securing the second-highest vote total (a peculiar situation that was fixed by an amendment to the Constitution). Jefferson ran again in 1800 against John Adams where he became the third president of the United States. One significant thing Jefferson was known for during his presidency was purchasing the Louisiana territory from France in 1803. Thomas Jefferson attempted not to get involved in the war between Great Britain and France but both countries began harassing American merchant’s ships that caused the president to implement the Embargo of 1807. The United States went to war with Great Britain over the issue of trade and sovereignty in the War of 1812. After two terms as President, Thomas Jefferson decided to follow the precedent established by George Washington and returned to civilian life.
Thomas Jefferson. Accessed April 12, 2017. http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/thomas-jefferson.
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