Animals

A Rat-Infested Night for the Sage of Monticello


A rat-infested night for the Sage of Monticello

Among Thomas Jefferson’s many accomplishments was the brilliant design of his home, Monticello. Visitors to the colonial mansion cannot help but be impressed by the beauty, attention to detail, and intentional designs for comfort Jefferson built into every detail. Perhaps this quest for comfort was motivated, in part, by some bad experiences with accommodations earlier in his life.

When he was 19 years old, Jefferson spent the night at a friend’s house. To say it was an unpleasant experience does not do it justice. He wrote about it in a letter to a mutual friend on Christmas Day, 1762:

“The cursed rats ate up my pocketbook which was in my pocket within a foot of my head. And not contented with plenty for the present, they carried away my jemmy-worked silk garters and half a dozen new minuets I had just got. Of this I should not have accused the devil — because you know rats will be rats.”

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Read more fun facts and stories about Thomas Jefferson.

Read more fun and scary facts and stories about rats.

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