In 1826, Thomas Jefferson was laid to rest at Monticello beside his wife and daughters. His epitaph, which he composed, reads, "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia."
Jefferson's tombstone does not bear a word of his political accomplishment - forty years as an officeholder, Virginia assemblyman, Continental congressman, ambassador to France, secretary of state, vice president, and president of the United States. He felt that these were honors the people had given him, and he wanted no credit for them. But the three accomplishments chiseled into the "coarse stone" he specified for his monument were his gifts to the people of the United States. They sum up Jefferson's vision of a nation of free people with the education and culture to preserve and enjoy their freedom. Here is his story.