Wednesday, May 15, 2019
History Blooms at Monticello
The Tuscany, or Old Velvet Rose, is a distinctive variety of the Apothecary Rose (Rosa gallica ‘Officinalis’) with highly perfumed, velvet-textured, deep wine-red blossoms, dating to the 16C. Could this be the “Black Rose” Thomas Jefferson received in 1808 from his friend Margaret Bayard Smith? Margaret Bayard Smith (1778-1844) was a friend of Thomas Jefferson & chronicler of early life in Washington, D.C. She met Jefferson through her husband, Samuel Harrison Smith, a Republican newspaperman & founder of the National Intelligencer. Mrs. Smith's recollections of Washington society life in the early 19C constitute one of the major sources of information on Jefferson's social life as President. After Jefferson's retirement from political life, Smith visited him at Monticello. Her account of this visit is another source of information on Jefferson's daily life.