homas Jefferson’s Later Years
Jefferson spent his post-presidential years at Monticello, where he continued to pursue his many interests, including architecture, music, reading and gardening. He also helped found the University of Virginia, which held its first classes in 1825. Jefferson was involved with designing the school’s buildings and curriculum, and ensured that unlike other American colleges at the time, the school had no religious affiliation or religious requirements for its students.
Jefferson died at age 83 at Monticello on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Coincidentally, John Adams, Jefferson’s friend, former rival and fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence, died the same day. Jefferson was buried at Monticello. However, due to the significant debt the former president had accumulated during his life, his mansion, furnishing and slaves were sold at auction following his death. Monticello was eventually acquired by a nonprofit organization, which opened it to the public in 1954.
Jefferson remains an American icon. His face appears on the U.S. nickel and is carved into stone at Mount Rushmore. The Jefferson Memorial, near the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated on April 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth.