Sunday, March 29, 2015

New National Constitution Center exhibit to focus on slavery at Monticello

An exhibit opening in April at the National Constitution Center will focus on slavery at Thomas Jefferson´s plantation, Monticello. (Photo courtesy of National Constitution Center)
An exhibit opening in April at the National Constitution Center will focus on slavery at Thomas Jefferson's plantation, Monticello. (Photo courtesy of National Constitution Center)
Story Highlights
  • A new exhibit will focus on slavery at Thomas Jefferson's plantation.
  • The exhibit follows the stories of six slave families who lived and worked at Monticello.
  • More than 280 artifacts from the families and Jefferson's belongings will be on display.

A new exhibit coming to the National Constitution Center this spring will focus on slavery at Thomas Jefferson's plantation.

The exhibition, called "Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello," will be on view at the Constitution Center from April 9 through Oct. 19.

The exhibit follows the stories of six slave families who lived and worked at Monticello, as well as their descendants' efforts to bring attention to the slaves' lives, the center said.

"Thomas Jefferson helped create a new nation based on individual freedom and self-government — yet he remained a slaveholder throughout his life," the center's website for the upcoming exhibition says.

Jefferson's ownership of slaves has been a controversial aspect of his legacy, with some scholars arguing that maintaining slaves on his plantation contradicted the Declaration of Independence drafter's political philosophies.

More than 280 artifacts from the families and Jefferson's belongings will be on display. The families are the Fossett, Granger, Gillette, Hemings, Hern and Hubbard families.

Jefferson is believed to be the father of six of Sally Hemings' children.

Most of the objects are from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. The display comes to Philadelphia after stops at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Atlanta History Center and Missouri History Museum.

National Constitution Center officials have scheduled a Monday news conference to discuss more details about the exhibit and its run in Philadelphia.

When the exhibit launched at the Smithsonian in February 2012, a companion exhibition, "Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row at Monticello," opened at Monticello in Charlottesville, Va. With dwellings, workshops and storage sheds, Mulberry Row was the "dynamic, industrial hub" of the 5,000-acre estate, and officials said the exhibit and restoration of that area would help visitors learn about the lives of enslaved people at the plantation.


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443 or BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

Emily Babay PHILLY.COM
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