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Website of the Week — Monticello


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. This time, as we celebrate our Independence Day holiday here on July 4, our Website features the home of the author of the Declaration of Independence. Our web guide is VOA's Art Chimes.

Thomas Jefferson was America's third president, a diplomat, gentleman farmer, and architect.

The Virginia home he designed and had built for himself, known as Monticello, is a treasured national landmark.

Jefferson was also a scientist and inventor, so he would no doubt be fascinated by a virtual visit to Monticello.org.

Start with the Monticello Explorer; it's an in-depth, interactive 3-D tour. Perhaps you'll notice an interesting piece of furniture.

"You click on it, you find out that it was created by one of Jefferson's slaves named John Hemmings, says Monticello.org webmaster Chad Wollerton. "And you can click over to find out a little more about John Hemmings, or you can click over to learn more about the place where some of the furniture that John Hemmings made was believed to have been crafted, that is the joinery at Monticello, during Jefferson's day."

Among the site's other features is a Classroom section designed for students and teachers. That's where you'll find information about Thomas Jefferson's role as author of the Declaration of Independence.

"There we actually give a bit more about Jefferson's role in the authorship of the Declaration of Independence, and its adoption, than we have previously, and are able now to present a bit more about what really makes Jefferson interesting to people — his political career."

Monticello was a working plantation, and it's now a window into the world of a prosperous farm two centuries ago. In a way, Wollerton suggests, an online visit can be more in-depth than visiting in person.

"You get a larger view of the plantation and kind of get a sense of how widespread it was, the kinds of activities that were going on, and how heavily Jefferson had it built up using his slave labor," said Wollerton.

Like many wealthy Americans of his time, Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, despite the ideas of equality that he espoused in the Declaration of Independence. One place to learn more about this and other aspects of life at Monticello is on the Thomas Jefferson Wiki, which is written by scholars and other experts.

The world of American founding father Thomas Jefferson online at Monticello.org, or get the link to this and more than 200 other Websites of the Week from our site, voanews.com.

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