Rotunda at dusk

Thomas Jefferson’s Last Legacies

Date & Time

June 21 - 24, 2018


Charlottesville, Virginia


Summer Jefferson Symposium 2018

After leaving the presidency, Thomas Jefferson spent 17 years in Charlottesville devoted to two of the great loves of his life: Monticello and the University of Virginia. These monuments to Jefferson’s vision are still speaking loudly today about community, education, citizenship, and history. The 2018 Summer Jefferson Symposium will explore these lasting legacies of Thomas Jefferson: The University of Virginia and Monticello.

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John Ragosta, PhD, JD

Historian, International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello; Fellow, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

John Ragosta, a historian, lawyer, and award-winning author, has taught law and history at the University of Virginia, George Washington University, Oberlin, Hamilton, and Randolph Colleges. Ragosta has held fellowships at the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, the Jack Miller Center and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and is currently a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Since 2012, Ragosta has successfully led three engaging Summer Jefferson Symposium weekends with participants from around the country. In 2017, Ragosta received the UVA Office of Engagement Outstanding Faculty Speaker Award.

He authored Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed, released in 2013 by the University of Virginia Press; Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia’s Religious Dissenters Helped to Win the American Revolution & Secured Religious Liberty from Oxford University Press in 2010; and most recently, Patrick Henry: Proclaiming a Revolution from Routledge Press in 2016.

Before returning to academia for his PhD, Ragosta was an international trade and litigation partner at Dewey Ballantine LLP.

He is also a beekeeper.

Niya Bates

Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life, Thomas Jefferson Foundation; Director of the Getting Word Oral History Project

Niya Bates is a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, and a two-time graduate of the University of Virginia with an M.A. in Architectural History and B.A. in African-American and African Studies. Her research interests include historic preservation, vernacular cultural landscapes, cultural heritage, slavery, and race. Bates is the Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, where she is director of the Getting Word Oral History Project. Niya worked at James Madison’s Montpelier as Architectural Historian in the Architecture and Historic Preservation Department from 2015-2016. She is currently serving on the board of Preservation Piedmont and is a member of the Landscape Studies Advisory Group for the UVA Landscapes Studies Initiative. She recently published an article titled “Race and Architectural History: An Appeal” in Arris: Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.

Louis Nelson

Vice Provost for Academic Outreach; Professor of Architectural History, School of Architecture

Louis Nelson is a Professor of Architectural History and the former Associate Dean in the School of Architecture. In December, 2016, Nelson was named Associate Provost for Outreach. Nelson is an accomplished scholar, with two book-length monographs published by UNC and Yale University Presses, three edited collections of essays, two terms as senior co-editor of Buildings and Landscapes—the leading English language venue for scholarship on vernacular architecture—and numerous articles. He is a celebrated teacher, having won a university-wide teaching award in 2007 and served as the 2008 UVA nominee for a state-wide Outstanding Faculty Award. In 2017, he received the UVA Office of Engagement Outstanding Faculty Speaker award. Nelson is a distinguished lecturer having lectured in the past year at St. Andrew’s and Edinburgh Universities in Scotland and Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England as well as at numerous American and Caribbean Universities.

Nelson is a specialist in the built environments of the early modern Atlantic world, with published work on the American South, the Caribbean, and West Africa. Nelson’s teaching and research focuses on the close examination of evidence—both material and textual—as a means of interrogating the ways architecture shapes the human experience. His current research engages the spaces of enslavement in West Africa and in the Americas, working to document and interpret the buildings and landscapes that shaped the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He has a second collaborative project working to understand the process of construction and early life at the University of Virginia.

Andrew O’Shaughnessy

Professor of History, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; Saunders Director, Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies

Andrew O’Shaughnessy is Vice President of Monticello, the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and Professor of History at the University of Virginia.  He is the author of An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000).  His most recent book, The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), received eight national awards including the New York Historical Society American History Book Prize, the George Washington Book Prize, and the Society of Military History Book Prize.  He is co-editor of Old World, New World. America and Europe in the Age of Jefferson (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010), and co-editor of the Jeffersonian America series, published by the University of Virginia Press.  A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of American History.

Alan Taylor

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Born in Portland, Maine, on June 17, 1955, Alan Taylor attended Colby College, graduating in 1977.  After serving as a researcher for historic preservation in the United States Virgin Islands (1977-79), he pursued graduate study at Brandeis University, receiving his PhD in American History in 1986.  After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Early American History and Culture (Williamsburg, Virginia), he taught in the history department at Boston University from 1987 to 1994.  Since 1994, he has been a professor at the University of California at Davis, where he teaches courses in early American history, the history of the American West, and the history of Canada.  Starting in August 2014, he has held the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair in the Corcoran History Department of the University of Virginia.

He long served as the faculty advisor for the California State Social Science and History Project, which provides curriculum support and professional development for K-12 teachers in history and social studies.  In 2002 he won the University of California at Davis Award for Teaching and Scholarly Achievement and the Phi Beta Kappa, Northern California Association, Teaching Excellence Award.

Taylor has published seven books: Liberty Men and Great Proprietors: The Revolutionary Settlement on the Maine Frontier, 1760-1820 (1990); William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic, (1995); American Colonies (2001); Writing Early American History (2005); The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution (2006); The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies (2010); The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia (2013); and American Revolutions: A Continental History (2016).

William Cooper’s Town won the Pulitzer Prize for American History in addition to the Bancroft and Beveridge prizes.  The Internal Enemy won the Pulitzer Prize for American History and the Merle Curti Prize for Social History (OAH).  American Colonies won the 2001 Gold Medal for Non-Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California.  The Divided Ground won the 2007 Society for Historians of the Early Republic book prize and the 2004-07 Society of the Cincinnati triennial book prize.  The Civil War of 1812 won the Empire State History Prize and was a finalist for the George Washington Prize.

Current Book Project

Thomas Jefferson’s Education: A social and political history of higher education in Virginia during and after the American Revolution with an emphasis on Jefferson’s colonial alma mater, the College of William and Mary, and his republican post-war alternative, the University of Virginia.

Kirt von Daacke

Assistant Dean and Professor, Undergraduate College of Arts & Sciences; Co-chair, President's Commission on Slavery and the University

Kirt von Daacke’s research centers upon social constructions of race, community social hierarchies, and identity in eighteenth and nineteenth century America. He is especially fascinated with studying the complex interplay of race and culture in the antebellum South. His first book, Freedom Has a Face: Race, Identity, and Community in Jefferson’s Albemarle, 1780-1865, came out with the University of Virginia Press in 2012. He has also begun research for a second book-length project examining the history of a nineteenth century interracial island fishing community in coastal Maine. Additionally, he is very excited to be co-chairing the UVA President’s Commission on Slavery and the University. Those scholarly interests grew out of his experience as an undergraduate history major at the University of Virginia, where so many of his professors challenged and inspired him as a thinker and scholar both inside and outside the classroom. von Daacke is very excited to have returned to UVA and to have the opportunity to guide current University students as they discover and pursue their own academic interests. In 2015, von Daake received the UVA Office of Engagement Outstanding Faculty Speaker award.

Brendan Wolfe

Author, "Mr. Jefferson’s Telescope: A History Of The University Of Virginia In 100 Objects”; Editor, Encyclopedia Virginia

Brendan Wolfe is the editor of Encyclopedia Virginia, a project of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. He is the author of Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend, about the early jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke, and Mr. Jefferson’s Telescope: A History of the University of Virginia in 100 Objects. His work has appeared in The Morning News, the Colorado Review, and VQR. He lives in Charlottesville.

Full Description

After leaving the presidency, Thomas Jefferson reigned as Charlottesville’s first citizen for over 17 years, but Jefferson was hardly “retired.” Much of his time was devoted to two great loves which continue to play enormously important roles in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the nation: building (and rebuilding) Monticello and creating the University of Virginia.

In 2018, after a six year absence, the Summer Jefferson Symposium will return to Monticello to see Jefferson’s “essay in architecture” and all of the changes being made as its broader plantation community is brought back to life. While he loved his home’s architecture, the little mountain was far more than that for both Jefferson and the community of family and enslaved people who lived there. Experts on Jefferson’s life at Monticello will start a conversation concerning what Jefferson hoped to do there and the role that was played by the other inhabitants, enslaved and free.

Coming down the mountain, we will spend time in Jefferson’s “academical village,” the crowning achievement of the sage’s later years. Here, too, while Jefferson was entranced with the opportunity to create an architectural masterpiece, much more was at stake. He understood that, to succeed, the young United States would need educated, engaged citizens; without them, the nation was doomed to fall back into old world errors and control by “kings, nobles, and priests.” The Enlightenment’s belief in, and commitment to, progress required expanding educational opportunities. This is why he created the University of Virginia and believed it to be among his greatest legacies.

Now, 200 years after its founding, the University of Virginia (“The University” for many) continues to live his dream, a dream with a strong message for the next 200 years of learning and service. As part of the University’s bicentennial celebration, the Summer Jefferson Symposium will gather leading scholars and participants to discuss Jefferson’s dream for the school, how he saw education’s role in a republic, the contribution of slavery and enslaved persons  to the young school, what role religion would have in a state college, who else played critical roles, and where the University is heading.

“This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” – Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, December 27, 1820

Registration Fees

On Grounds: $1,395 per person (includes lodging, all meals, parking, shuttle from Grounds to and from events, lectures, tours and exhibits)

Off Grounds: $1,195 per person (includes all meals, parking, shuttle from Grounds to and from events, lectures, tours and exhibits)

Lodging Options

On Grounds Lodging:

Lodging on Grounds is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. All guests staying in dorm rooms must be registered seminar participants.

*Brown and Lawn lodging costs included in on Grounds registration.

Brown College Rooms are air-conditioned, furnished with a bed, desk and chair, wardrobe and dresser, and include a living room and ensuite bathroom. Video about Monroe Hill where Brown College sits:

The Lawn rooms are furnished with a bed, desk, and rocking chair and include a sink. Shared bathrooms and showers are outside the dorm rooms. Additionally, most rooms have a fireplace. No air-conditioning, kitchen, or study lounges are available.

What’s included in dorm rooms: Beds are furnished with a mattress cover, pillow, blanket, bedspread and a bed linen package, which includes one pillow case and two sheets. Guests are provided with two bath towels, a washcloth, and bath mat. Wi-Fi internet is available. The housekeeping staff will remove trash from the bedroom and common areas and sanitize the bathrooms on weekdays only. Rooms are not equipped with hangers, iron or ironing board, or hair dryers. Guests are responsible for making their own bed and supplying their own personal items including shampoo, soap, etc.

Off Grounds Lodging Options:

Local Hotels:

If staying in a hotel, individuals must make their own reservations. A limited number of hotel rooms have been blocked for Summer Jefferson Symposium. Call one of the hotel choices below to reserve your room and mention the group block name. Reserve your room early to ensure availability and pricing. Room blocks only available through May 20, 2018.

Courtyard Marriott
1201 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Thursday $159
Friday and Saturday $169/night (2 night minimum)
Room Block Name: Lifetime Learning Summer Jefferson Symposium

Graduate Charlottesville
1309 West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Thursday $129
Friday and Saturday $199/night (2 night minimum)
Room Block Name: Lifetime Learning Summer Jefferson Symposium

Terms and Conditions

Participants may register to stay on Grounds at Brown College, in a Lawn Dorm Room. Alternatively, participants may arrange their own lodging accommodations. We welcome participants 18 years or older. No pets allowed.

Physical Capabilities

This is a moderately active seminar that requires some walking on uneven terrain, climbing steps, and prolonged standing. We will follow a leisurely pace on the seminar, but it is entirely up to individuals to pace themselves according to their own capabilities. It is always possible to choose not to participate in certain seminar activities. We strongly recommend that you consult your personal physician about your health and the likelihood of experiencing any problems with the physical requirements of this symposium. Also, discuss any necessary precautions that you should take prior to attending.

Charlottesville’s weather during late June is occasionally humid with high temperatures that range between 80°F to mid-90°F.

Schedule (Tentative)
Thursday June 21, 2018
CHECK – IN 12:00 – 2:00 pm Hotel C, Jefferson Hall
First Rotunda Tour Group 3:00 – 4:15 pm (Corinthian) 16 Participants
Second Rotunda Tour Group 3:00 –  4:15 pm (Ionic) 16 Participants
Third Rotunda Tour Group 3:00 – 4:15 pm (Doric) 15 Participants
Reception 6:15 pm West Oval Room 2nd floor
Introductions 7:00 pm Althea Brooks and John Ragosta
DINNER Dome Room
Lecture 1 – Jefferson as America’s Architect Louis Nelson
Evening Ends by 9:30 pm
Friday June 22, 2018
BREAKFAST 7:30 – 8:45 am The Garden Room
Board Bus at SJS Stop for Thomas Jefferson Library 9:00 am departure
Tour of Jefferson Library and the Jefferson Papers Andrew O’Shaughnessy and colleagues
Lecture 2 – Introduction to The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies
Lecture 3 – Jefferson and Cabell:
The (Other) Great Collaboration
John Ragosta
Lecture 4 – Mountaintop Project:
Restoring Landscapes of Slavery at Monticello
(Overview of Tours and Changes at Monticello)
12:45 – 1:15 pm
depart by 1:30 pm
Niya Bates
Arrive at Monticello for Tours 2:00 pm
Behind the Scenes House Tour & Mulberry Row Tour 2:00 – 4:15 pm Divide into Tour Groups
Exploration on Your Own 4:15 – 5:30 pm Visit gardens, watch movie, visit museum, gift shop
Board Bus for Dinner at Graduate Hotel 5:30 pm
Reception Graduate Hotel, Roof Top
Lecture 5 – The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind: Jefferson’s Idea of a University Andrew O’Shaughnessy
RETURN TO GROUNDS  by 10:00 pm short walk to dorms – vans available if needed
Saturday June 23, 2018
BREAKFAST 7:30 – 8:45am The Garden Room
ON GROUNDS  Minor Hall
Lecture 6 – Rethinking the Early Academical Village: Slavery at the University of Virginia 9:00 am Kirt von Daacke
Break Lobby of Minor Hall
Lecture 7 – Jefferson’s Vision of Religion at UVA John Ragosta
Lecture 8 – Jefferson’s Shadow: Objects, History, and the Waning Influence of the Founder Brendan Wolfe
LUNCH 1:00 – 2:00pm South Meeting Room, Newcomb Hall
AFTERNOON BREAK 2:00 – 5:45pm
Optional: visit Small Collections Library (100 Objects exhibit), take a self – guided tour of Grounds, or relax
Board Bus at SJS Stop for Dinner at Montalto 5:45 pm
Reception Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Welcome to Montalto
DINNER Montalto
Lecture 9 – Thomas Jefferson’s Education Alan Taylor
Sunday June 24, 2018
BREAKFAST 7:30 – 9:00 am The Garden Room
Certificates and Farewells
CHECK – OUT 9:00 – 11:00 am The Garden Room Lawn
Talk Descriptions

Louis Nelson

Lecture #1 Thursday, June 21st at 8:15-9:00 pm

Thomas Jefferson, Architect

Thomas Jefferson is rightly famous for his political writing, his scientific interests, and his philosophical inquiries, but he was also one of early America’s most important architects. This is clearly reflected in the joint nomination of Monticello and the Academical Village at the University of Virginia as a single UNESCO world heritage site. This session will be an introduction into Jefferson’s design work, considering some of his sources of inspiration and some of his most distinctive (or even revolutionary?) solutions.


Andrew O’Shaughnessy

Lecture #2 Friday, June 22nd 9:45-10:45

Kenwood—Tour of the Thomas Jefferson Library and the Jefferson Papers
Introduction to the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies


John Ragosta

Lecture #3 Friday, June 22nd at 10:45-11:45am

Jefferson’s Collaborators in Building the University

Jefferson did not build the University of Virginia alone. Aside from the workmen, many of whom were enslaved, Jefferson also had remarkable assistance in framing and executing the plans for UVA, most notably James Madison and James Monroe. One of the critical collaborators, though, is generally remembered only as a name attached to an old building on the lawn: Cabell. Groomed for the effort by Jefferson, Joseph C. Cabell played a critical role as the lead politician steering UVA through treacherous political waters. He also became the University’s third rector. This talk will explore Cabell’s contribution and his relationship with Jefferson while touching briefly on other less-remembered founders.

Thoughts From the Lawn Blog posts by John Ragosta:

Thomas Jefferson’s Last Legacies

Diversity Enshrined: Religious freedom and the American experiment

First Loves, Last Loves: Jefferson, Monticello, and UVA


Niya Bates

Lecture #4 Friday, June 22nd at 1:00-1:30pm

Mountaintop Project: Restoring Landscapes of Slavery at Monticello

Since the 1980s, Monticello has endeavored to discover more about the enslaved individuals and families who lived and labored at Monticello. In 2014, the foundation began restoring Monticello and Mulberry Row to the way Jefferson and the enslaved community knew them. Today, we are able to use this restored landscape and oral histories from the descendant community to engage our visitors in a dialogue about Jefferson, slavery at Monticello, and his legacies.


Andrew O’Shaughnessy

Lecture #5 Friday, June 22nd 7:45 -9:00pm

The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind: Thomas Jefferson’s Idea of a University

Thomas Jefferson was intimately involved with every aspect of creating the University of Virginia.  It represented what he regarded as one of his three greatest achievements. His vision and its execution did indeed reveal his greatest talents as a lawyer who drafted the legislation; a politician who cajoled the assembly into supporting him against furious opposition; an architect who designed the layout, chose the building materials and corresponded with the craftsman; and as an intellectual who developed an innovative curriculum, suggested the books for the library, and who developed the criteria for selecting the faculty.  He sought the best advice both at home and abroad and relied on many others to assist him, but it was ultimately his ideas which prevailed.  He was concerned with what remains a perennial issue, which is the importance of higher education in the success of the republican democratic experiment. He had a vision whose creativity still has the potential to stimulate discussion about the role of universities.  This session will argue that his vision contained many features which were distinctive in the United States and more progressive than what would become the Ivy League Schools.


Kirt von Daacke

Lecture #6 Saturday, June 23rd 9:00-10:15 am

Rethinking the Early Academical Village: Slavery at the University of Virginia

This talk seeks to uncover previously hidden history at the University of Virginia—slavery and the enslaved in the creation and maintenance of the school for nearly fifty years. We will examine how the Jeffersonian architectural design speaks volumes about slavery, how that landscape shaped and was in turn shaped by the enslaved people who lived and worked in the Academical Village through 1865, and how pro-slavery thought came to permeate the school by the 1840s, often to the detriment of the enslaved people there.


John Ragosta

Lecture #7 Saturday, June 23rd at 10:30-11:30am

Jefferson’s Vision of Religion at UVA

In designing UVA, Jefferson worked diligently, against considerable political opposition, to ensure that the University did not actively promote religion but left religious matters to the students. Almost two hundred years later, in Rosenberger v. UVA (1995), the Supreme Court adopted a “neutrality principle” — government must neither promote nor discriminate against religion—a decision with which Jefferson would undoubtedly have been pleased. In this session, John Ragosta will address Jefferson’s role in defining American religious freedom, his plans for UVA, and the modern religious freedom issues with which we continue to grapple.


Brendan Wolf

Lecture #8 Saturday, June 23rd at 11:45-12:30pm

Jefferson’s Shadow: Objects, History, and the Waning Influence of the Founder

Brendan Wolfe will discuss his book Mr. Jefferson’s Telescope: A History of the University of Virginia in 100 Objects, exploring how Jefferson’s vision has weathered the last two centuries and the ways in which the university’s story must change moving forward.


Alan Taylor

Lecture #9 Saturday, June 23rd Farewell Dinner 8:00pm

Thomas Jefferson’s Education

Thomas Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary at the end of the colonial era.  In the wake of the revolution he set out to create a radical new university and public education system.  Defeated on public education, he settled for the university.  In order to fund his new creation, he sought to destroy his alma mater in order to claim its endowment.  This talk will discuss Jefferson’s educational goals and the shifting politics of funding education as Virginia passed through a revolution and became a republic in an increasingly contentious union of states.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Participants may cancel their registration for the Symposium by completing the 2018 Summer Jefferson Cancellation Form and faxing it to Lifetime Learning at 434‐924‐0556 or emailing to

Individuals are responsible for cancelling their own hotel reservations, if applicable.
Refund Policy If Lifetime Learning receives a completed Cancellation Form on or before March 22, 2018, you will receive a refund, minus a $200 cancellation fee.

If Lifetime Learning receives the completed Cancellation Form between March 23, 2018 and April 30, 2018 you will receive a refund of 50% of your registration fee. If Lifetime Learning receives a Cancellation Form after May 1, 2018, no refund will be issued.