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Owning Up to the Past


Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, which states that "all men are created equal." He also called slavery "an abominable crime." Yet he owned several families of slaves at his plantation, Monticello, and relied on their forced labor to make himself a wealthy man. How did Jefferson make sense of this obvious contradiction? More importantly, how do we make sense of it? Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty, a new exhibit organized by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation of Monticello and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, takes dead aim at Jefferson's slave-ownership, and shines a bright light on what that meant for his slaves. Through oral histories, documents and archaeological excavations, Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello gives back the names and faces of six families of enslaved people and tells their side of the story. Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello comes to the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or Saturday, August 10, through Sunday, March 2. Admission is free.
Aug. 10-March 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 2013