Physical Descriptions of Jefferson

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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[[Image:jeff1.jpg|right|frame|Peale portrait of Jefferson]] [[Image:jeff1.jpg|right|frame|Peale portrait of Jefferson]]
-'''1781-1824 Isaac Jefferson, slave at Monticello:'''<br> 
-Mr. Jefferson was a tall, straight-bodied man as ever you see, right square-shouldered. Nary a man in this town (Petersburg) walked so straight as my Old Master. Neat a built man as ever was seen in Vaginny . . . . a straight-up man, long face, high nose.  
-'''1790 William Maclay:'''<br>+'''1781-1824.''' ([[Isaac Jefferson]], slave at Monticello) "Mr. Jefferson was a tall, straight-bodied man as ever you see, right square-shouldered. Nary a man in this town [Petersburg] walked so straight as my Old Master. Neat a built man as ever was seen in Vaginny . . . . a straight-up man, long face, high nose.<ref>This article is based on Zanne Macdonald, Monticello Research Report, July 1992.</ref>
-Jefferson is a slender man; has rather the air of stiffness in his manners; his clothes seem too small for him . . . one shoulder elevated above the other (while sitting)+
-'''1801-09 Samuel Harrison Smith (?):'''<br>+'''1790.''' (William Maclay) "Jefferson is a slender man; has rather the air of stiffness in his manners; his clothes seem too small for him . . . one shoulder elevated above the other (while sitting)..."
-The stature of Jefferson was lofty and erect; his motions flexible and easy; neither remarkable for, nor deficient in grace; and such were his strength and agility. . . .+
-'''1802 William Plumer:'''<br>+'''1801-09.''' (Samuel Harrison Smith) "The stature of Jefferson was lofty and erect; his motions flexible and easy; neither remarkable for, nor deficient in grace; and such were his strength and agility..."
-a tall, highboned man+
-'''1806-22 Edmund Bacon, overseer at Monticello:'''<br>+'''1802.''' (William Plumer) "a tall, highboned man"
-Mr. Jefferson was six feet two and half inches high, well proportioned and straight as a gun barrel. He was like a fine horse; he had no surplus flesh. His countenance was always mild and pleasant+
-'''1807 Sir Augustus John Foster:'''<br>+'''1806-22.''' ([[Edmund Bacon]], overseer at Monticello) "Mr. Jefferson was six feet two and half inches high, well proportioned and straight as a gun barrel. He was like a fine horse; he had no surplus flesh. His countenance was always mild and pleasant."
-appearance being very much like that of a large-boned farmer was very tall and bony+
-'''1808 Frances Few:'''<br>+'''1807.''' (Sir Augustus John Foster) "...appearance being very much like that of a large-boned farmer was very tall and bony..."
-he is a tall thin man very dignified in his appearance...his face is short and his nose and chin approach each other -- his teeth are good he shews but little of them when he laughs -- he stoops very much but holds his head high+
-'''1809-26 B. L. Rayner:'''<br>+'''1808.''' (Frances Few) "...he is a tall thin man very dignified in his appearance...his face is short and his nose and chin approach each other -- his teeth are good he shews but little of them when he laughs -- he stoops very much but holds his head high..."
-a strong and sprightly step...the tall and animated, and stately figure+
-'''1815 Francis Calley Gray:'''<br>+'''1809-26.''' (B. L. Rayner) "...a strong and sprightly step...the tall and animated, and stately figure..."
-His figure bony, long and with broad shoulders, a true Virginian.+
-'''1816 Francis Hall:'''<br>+'''1815.''' (Francis Calley Gray) "His figure bony, long and with broad shoulders, a true Virginian."
-I found Mr. Jefferson tall in person, but stooping and lean with old age, thus exhibiting the fortunate mode of bodily decay, which strips the frame of its most cumbersome parts, leaving it still strength of muscle and activity of limb. +
-'''1820 Isaac Briggs:'''<br>+'''1816.''' (Francis Hall) "I found Mr. Jefferson tall in person, but stooping and lean with old age, thus exhibiting the fortunate mode of bodily decay, which strips the frame of its most cumbersome parts, leaving it still strength of muscle and activity of limb."
-His 77th year finds him strong, active and in full possession of a sound mind. He rides a trotting horse and sits on him straight as a young man.+
-'''1820 Adam Hodgson:'''<br>+'''1816.''' (George Flower). "I found Mr. Jefferson at his [[Poplar Forest|Poplar-Forest]] estate, in the western part of the State of Virginia. His house was built after the fashion of a French chateau. Octagon rooms, floors, floors of polished oak, lofty ceilings, large mirrors, betokened his French taste, acquired by his long residence in France. Mr. Jefferson's figure was rather majestic: tall (over six feet), thin, and rather high-shouldered; manners, simple, kind, and courteous. His dress, in color and form. was quaint and old-fashioned, plain and neat-dark pepper-and-salt coat, cut in the old quaker fashion, with a single row of large metal buttons, knee-breeches, gray-worsted stockings, shoes fastened by large metal buckles-such was the appearance of Jefferson when I fist made his acquaintance, in 1816. His two grand-daughters-Misses Randolph- well-educated and accomplished young ladies, were staying with him at the time."<ref>[http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1685576 ''History of the English settlement in Edwards County, Illinois : founded in 1817 and 1818, by Morris Birkbeck and George Flower''] (Chicago: Fergus Printing Company, 1882), 43.</ref>
-Mr. Jefferson's appearance is rather prepossessing. He is tall and very thin, a little bent with age . . .+ 
 +'''1820.''' (Isaac Briggs) "His 77th year finds him strong, active and in full possession of a sound mind. He rides a trotting horse and sits on him straight as a young man."
 + 
 +'''1820.''' (Adam Hodgson) "Mr. Jefferson's appearance is rather prepossessing. He is tall and very thin, a little bent with age..."
[[Image:sully_med.jpg|right|frame|Sully portrait of Jefferson]] [[Image:sully_med.jpg|right|frame|Sully portrait of Jefferson]]
-'''1822 Reverand S. A. Bumstead:'''<br>+'''1822.''' (Reverand S. A. Bumstead) "...his hair is quite thick...his features regular...he was remarkably erect and had every appearance of antiquity about him."
-his hair is quite thick...his features regular...he was remarkably erect and had every appearance of antiquity about him. + 
 +'''1822.''' (D. P. Thompson) "Mr. Jefferson a tall, straight [man]."
-'''1822 D. P. Thompson:'''<br>+'''c. 1822.''' (Judith Walker Rives) "...his tall figure had lost none of its uprightness..."
-Mr. Jefferson a tall, straight [man]+
-'''c. 1822 Judith Walker Rives:'''<br>+'''1823.''' (Alexander H. H. Stuart) "...raw boned man, with rather large hands..."
-his tall figure had lost none of its uprightness+
-'''1823 Alexander H. H. Stuart:'''<br>+'''1824.''' (Daniel Webster) "Mr. Jefferson is now between eighty-one and eighty-two, above six feet high, of an ample, long frame, rather thin and spare. His head, which is not peculiar in its shape, is set rather forward on his shoulders, and his neck being long, there is, when he is walking or conversing, an habitual protrusion of it. It is still well covered with hair, which having been once red, and now turning gray, is an indistinct sandy color. His [[Eye Color | eyes]] are small, very light, and now neither brilliant nor striking. His chin is rather long, but not pointed. His nose small, regular in its outline, and the nostrils a little elevated. His mouth is well formed and still filled with teeth; it is strongly compressed, bearing an expression of contentment and benevolence. His complexion, formerly light and freckled, now bears the marks of age and cutaneous affection. His limbs are uncommonly long; his hands and feet very large, and his wrists of an extraordinary size. His walk is not precise and military, but easy and swinging. He stoops a little, not so much from age as from natural formation. When sitting, he appears short, partly from a rather lounging habit of sitting, and partly from the disproportionate length of his limbs...His general appearance indicates an extraordinary degree of health, vivacity, and spirit."<ref>[[Short Title List|Peterson, ''Visitors'']], 97.</ref></p>
-raw boned man, with rather large hands+
-'''1824 Daniel Webster:'''<br>+'''1824.''' (Samuel Whitcomb, Jr.) "He is tall and very straight excepting his neck which appears limber and inclined to crook. His hair is long and thin."
-above six feet high, of an ample long frame, rather thin and spare. His head, which is not peculiar in its shape, is set rather forward on his shoulders, and his neck being long, there is, when he is walking or conversing, an habitual protusion of it. It is still well covered with hair...his eyes are small...his chin is rather long, but not pointed, his nose small, regular in its outline, and the nostrils a little elevated. His mouth is well formed and still filled with teeth; it is generally strongly compressed, bearing an expression of contentment and benevolence. His limbs are uncommonly long, his hands and feet very large, and his wrists of a most extraordinary size. His walk is not precise and military, but easy and swinging; he stoops a little, not so much from age, as from natural formation. When sitting he appears short partly from the disproportionate length of his limbs...His general appearance indicates an extraordinary degree of health, vivacity, and spirit.+
-'''1824 Samuel Whitcomb, Jr.:'''<br>+'''Ante 1826.''' (George Tucker) "In person he was above six feet high, thin and erect."
-He is tall and very straight excepting his neck which appears limber and inclined to crook. His hair is long and thin.+
-'''Ante 1826 George Tucker:'''<br>+==Footnotes==
-In person he was above six feet high, thin and erect.+<references/>
-Original Author: Zanne Macdonald, Monticello Research Department, July 1992+==See Also==
 +*[[Notable Comments on Jefferson (Contemporary)]]
 +*[[Notable Comments on Jefferson (19th Century)]]
 +*[[Notable Comments on Jefferson (20th Century)]]
 +*[[Quotations on Jefferson in Conversation]]
---[[User:Bcraig|Bcraig]] 14:17, 13 March 2007 (EDT) 
[[Category:Personal Life]] [[Category:Personal Life]]

Current revision

Peale portrait of Jefferson
Peale portrait of Jefferson

1781-1824. (Isaac Jefferson, slave at Monticello) "Mr. Jefferson was a tall, straight-bodied man as ever you see, right square-shouldered. Nary a man in this town [Petersburg] walked so straight as my Old Master. Neat a built man as ever was seen in Vaginny . . . . a straight-up man, long face, high nose.[1]

1790. (William Maclay) "Jefferson is a slender man; has rather the air of stiffness in his manners; his clothes seem too small for him . . . one shoulder elevated above the other (while sitting)..."

1801-09. (Samuel Harrison Smith) "The stature of Jefferson was lofty and erect; his motions flexible and easy; neither remarkable for, nor deficient in grace; and such were his strength and agility..."

1802. (William Plumer) "a tall, highboned man"

1806-22. (Edmund Bacon, overseer at Monticello) "Mr. Jefferson was six feet two and half inches high, well proportioned and straight as a gun barrel. He was like a fine horse; he had no surplus flesh. His countenance was always mild and pleasant."

1807. (Sir Augustus John Foster) "...appearance being very much like that of a large-boned farmer was very tall and bony..."

1808. (Frances Few) "...he is a tall thin man very dignified in his appearance...his face is short and his nose and chin approach each other -- his teeth are good he shews but little of them when he laughs -- he stoops very much but holds his head high..."

1809-26. (B. L. Rayner) "...a strong and sprightly step...the tall and animated, and stately figure..."

1815. (Francis Calley Gray) "His figure bony, long and with broad shoulders, a true Virginian."

1816. (Francis Hall) "I found Mr. Jefferson tall in person, but stooping and lean with old age, thus exhibiting the fortunate mode of bodily decay, which strips the frame of its most cumbersome parts, leaving it still strength of muscle and activity of limb."

1816. (George Flower). "I found Mr. Jefferson at his Poplar-Forest estate, in the western part of the State of Virginia. His house was built after the fashion of a French chateau. Octagon rooms, floors, floors of polished oak, lofty ceilings, large mirrors, betokened his French taste, acquired by his long residence in France. Mr. Jefferson's figure was rather majestic: tall (over six feet), thin, and rather high-shouldered; manners, simple, kind, and courteous. His dress, in color and form. was quaint and old-fashioned, plain and neat-dark pepper-and-salt coat, cut in the old quaker fashion, with a single row of large metal buttons, knee-breeches, gray-worsted stockings, shoes fastened by large metal buckles-such was the appearance of Jefferson when I fist made his acquaintance, in 1816. His two grand-daughters-Misses Randolph- well-educated and accomplished young ladies, were staying with him at the time."[2]

1820. (Isaac Briggs) "His 77th year finds him strong, active and in full possession of a sound mind. He rides a trotting horse and sits on him straight as a young man."

1820. (Adam Hodgson) "Mr. Jefferson's appearance is rather prepossessing. He is tall and very thin, a little bent with age..."

Sully portrait of Jefferson
Sully portrait of Jefferson

1822. (Reverand S. A. Bumstead) "...his hair is quite thick...his features regular...he was remarkably erect and had every appearance of antiquity about him."

1822. (D. P. Thompson) "Mr. Jefferson a tall, straight [man]."

c. 1822. (Judith Walker Rives) "...his tall figure had lost none of its uprightness..."

1823. (Alexander H. H. Stuart) "...raw boned man, with rather large hands..."

1824. (Daniel Webster) "Mr. Jefferson is now between eighty-one and eighty-two, above six feet high, of an ample, long frame, rather thin and spare. His head, which is not peculiar in its shape, is set rather forward on his shoulders, and his neck being long, there is, when he is walking or conversing, an habitual protrusion of it. It is still well covered with hair, which having been once red, and now turning gray, is an indistinct sandy color. His eyes are small, very light, and now neither brilliant nor striking. His chin is rather long, but not pointed. His nose small, regular in its outline, and the nostrils a little elevated. His mouth is well formed and still filled with teeth; it is strongly compressed, bearing an expression of contentment and benevolence. His complexion, formerly light and freckled, now bears the marks of age and cutaneous affection. His limbs are uncommonly long; his hands and feet very large, and his wrists of an extraordinary size. His walk is not precise and military, but easy and swinging. He stoops a little, not so much from age as from natural formation. When sitting, he appears short, partly from a rather lounging habit of sitting, and partly from the disproportionate length of his limbs...His general appearance indicates an extraordinary degree of health, vivacity, and spirit."[3]</p>

1824. (Samuel Whitcomb, Jr.) "He is tall and very straight excepting his neck which appears limber and inclined to crook. His hair is long and thin."

Ante 1826. (George Tucker) "In person he was above six feet high, thin and erect."

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on Zanne Macdonald, Monticello Research Report, July 1992.
  2. History of the English settlement in Edwards County, Illinois : founded in 1817 and 1818, by Morris Birkbeck and George Flower (Chicago: Fergus Printing Company, 1882), 43.
  3. Peterson, Visitors, 97.

See Also