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Jefferson Scholar Notes Significance of Presidential Visit to Monticello

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Monticello Monticello

President Obama will bring French president Francois Hollande to the home of one of the greatest American Patriots and Francophiles on Monday.

Monticello is making last minute preparations for the visit by the presidential pair.

One can't help but think how proud Thomas Jefferson would be to know his love of all things French continues to rekindle warm relations between both countries.

It's been more than 200 years since the U.S. and France fought their revolutionary wars.

“To remember that moment is crucial and it has been the basis of Franco-American solidarity is the memory of those revolutions,” said Peter Onuf, a professor with the University of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation.

That past will collide with the present on Monday when President Obama and President Hollande visit Monticello both for the first time.

Revolutionary Patriot and third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence following principles shared with France.

“Modern ideas of equality, social equality, of a great glorious future for mankind really get off the launching pad in France,” Onuf said.

He says political principles weren't the only thing Jefferson embraced during his days as the U.S. Minister to France.

“Jefferson spent some of the most enjoyable years of his life in Paris,” Onuf said. “He loved Paris. France for him was his entre into civilization as he knew it.”

When he returned, Monticello would never be the same.

“He abandoned his first Monticello to redesign it because of all he learned in Paris about what good architecture should look like.”

Jefferson created the now famous Rotunda, added skylights, and attempted to replicate French floor to ceiling windows.

“He shipped in crates and crates from Paris,” Onuf said. “He literally brought back the Enlightenment in books and objects and sculpture and in furniture and in everything.”

The two presidents will walk in Jefferson's footsteps together Monday afternoon.

The president's mountaintop estate is closed to the public Monday.

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