This is What Democracy Sounded Like

May 29, 2012

The words of Thomas Jefferson ring in the ears and characters of Americans, yet his actual voice remains unknown. Likewise, visitors to Monticello get a window into his daily life and genius, but can only imagine the mix of pastoral and industrious sounds of the farm operating at full tilt. New exhibitions at Monticello and the Smithsonian Museum of American History go beyond the image of a temple on the hill to include Mulberry Row, where the slaves who tended the home, fields and production of the farm lived.  The concurrent exhibits, called Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty, stirred the imagination of Bonnie Gordon, Professor of Music at the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music – she recently wrote in Slate about what life at Jefferson's estate might have sounded like in the late 18th  to early 19th centuries.