Account of the Sale of Monticello, Buck Island, and Slaves


A correspondent of the Lynchburg Republican sends that paper an account of the sale of Monticello, the former residence of Thomas Jefferson. It was sold under the confiscation act. The letter says a large crowd was present, and—

“Among them was Captain Jonas P. Levy, brother of the deceased owner of Monticello. After the deputy marshal had proclaimed the decree of the District Court, Confederate States of America, and the terms of the sale, Captain Levy stated that he did not come there to intervere with or prevent the sale in any way, and that while he, for the present, waived his rights in the premises, he intended to bid for the property himself. The deputy marshal then stated that one acre of the place—the Cemetery of Thomas Jefferson—was reserved in the sale, and Captain Levy said his mother was also interred on the place, and he hoped whoever became the purchaser of Monticello would let her rest in peace.—Monticello was put up, and the first bid was $20,000, the last $80,500, and Lieutenant-Colonel B. F. Ficklin the purchaser.

“The land at Buckeye, nine hundred and sixty-one acres, was bought, it is said, for the Confederate government at eighty-eight dollars per acre—$81,685—by J. H. Parker. The first negro man, Fuke, brought $7,000; the next, Fleming, $7,450; Lewis, $7,850; John, sold to Captain Jonas P. Levy, for $5,400. A negro woman, with seven children, one at the breast, $23,100, to B. B. Ficklin; three girls, from five to nine years old, $11,000, and two smaller girls, $3,200. An old man and wife was put up and withdrawn, as the marshal would provide privately for their support.

“The bust of Mr. Jefferson, which stood in the hall on a fluted Corinthian pedestal, brought only $50, and will still retain its place, as Mr. Ficklin re-purchased it. The piano-forte brought $5,000; sideboard, with marble top, $510; the model of the United States frigate Vandalia was bought by J. P. Levy for $100; a washstand, $200; cows, from $500 to $900 each; yoke of oxen, $2,500; shoats, from $80 to $100; threshing machine, $600. The bust of Voltaire was sold, but what it brought I do not know; it was said to have been Mr. Jefferson’s.—The amount of sales was $350,000.

“In one of the rooms in the upper story was the body of a chair or one-horse sulkey which Mr. Jefferson used to ride in from Monticello to Philadelphia when he was Secretary of State. Standing in front of the house, a piece of land of two hundred acres was pointed out to me by Mr. Randolph, which Mr. Jefferson purchased for a bowl of punch, and several hundred acres for five cents.

“Visitors have defaced the walls of the house by scribbling their names over them. Hundreds of them can be seen and read on each side of the front entrance to the hall; pieces of the bust of Mr. Jefferson were chipped off; chairs, tables, mirrors, vases broken and destroyed, and in some cases mementoes of rare virtue and art have been purloined, while the family resided here as well as in their absence. And the monument of the immortal Jefferson has been sadly defaced and the fragments carried off as trophies or mementoes from a sacred shrine. Shame, shame upon our thoughtless countrymen; why should they be so disrespectful to the sepulchre of the great patriot of the Revolution? A large number of people were present at the sale.”

Published in the Richmond Daily Dispatch, 25 Nov. 1864.

It was actually TJ’s father Peter Jefferson who, in 1736, purchased a 200-acre tract of land near the Rivanna River from William Randolph for the price of a bowl of punch at Henry Wetherburn’s tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Times Dispatch
Date Range
November 11, 1864
The Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia