This afternoon, President Obama and French President François Hollande visited Monticello, the home of former President Thomas Jefferson, just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence, was a noted Francophile, and served as the U.S. Minister to France from 1785 to 1789.
Monticello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is widely regarded as an architectural masterpiece. Jefferson began work on his home at age 26, designing – and continually redesigning – the house following neoclassical principles.
After touring Monticello, President Obama remarked that it symbolizes the “incredible history between the United States and France,” and the "incredible bond and the incredible gifts that France gave to the United States.” The house also represents the "complicated history of the United States," President Obama said, as well as the “complex relations” between Jefferson and the institution of slavery. President Obama added that for France and the United States, Monticello is “a reminder for both of us that we’re going to continue to fight on behalf of the rights of all peoples."
Tomorrow morning, President Obama and the First Lady will welcome the French President to the White House, holding a state dinner in his honor tomorrow evening.