I could go on and on about what makes Mr. Jefferson such an inspiring man, why he's so relevant today, and about how awesome and dreamy he is... but I will spare you all that. Instead, I'll share a few facts that many of you might know already, but hopefully will be new information for others.
Fun Fact #1: April 2, 1743 O.S. is the date engraved on Jefferson's grave (see photo below), but we celebrate the day on April 13. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII began the calendar system we use today, known as the Gregorian calendar. This replaced the previous Julian calendar (named for Julius Caesar) which had fallen several years behind the solar calendar. The British empire did not conform to this system for several hundred years. In 1752, when Britain finally adopted this calendar system, Mr. Jefferson added the additional 11 days to his birth date. (You can read more about the switch from the old style calendar on this page.)
The obelisk marking Jefferson's grave at Monticello
Fun Fact #2: Many people attribute the invention of the swivel chair (which he often referred to as his "whirligig" chair) to Mr. Jefferson, but there is no definite proof that he was indeed the first to add some spin to his seat. In 1775, he purchased a revolving Windsor armchair in Philadelphia. The chair was built with two seats on top of each other, revolving around a center spindle. During his stay in New York as Secretary of State, Mr. Jefferson purchased several pieces of furniture from Thomas Burling. Among this collection was another revolving chair, which has a design attributed to the French. Knowing that Mr. Jefferson already had a similar chair at home and considering his recent residence in France, it is often suggested that he may have had a hand in designing these Burling chairs (Burling also made one of these chairs for George Washington).
Fun Fact #3: Speaking of inventions, how about the myth that he was the first to bring mac & cheese (which, by the way, is one of my all-time favorites!) to America? The NY Times recently published an article about Mr. Jefferson's appreciation for macaroni, a dish he first encountered in northern Italy during a 1781 visit. He had a macaroni machine imported to America and macaroni became a frequent dish on his table. While he definitely introduced many Americans to macaroni, he was most likely not the first to serve it in this country. A pasta factory in Trenton, NJ, owned by Giovanni Battista Sartori, was already in existence in the early 18th century and frequently provided supplies for President Jefferson at the White House. Mary Randolph's The Virginia Housewife of 1824 mentions dressing the macaroni with cheese, but again, it is unlikely that Mr. Jefferson was the first to eat it this particular way. (Click here to read more about TJ's macaroni.)
That's all I have time to share with you all today. But don't worry, I'm sure more TJ Fun Facts will find their way to our blog soon. So, once again, wishing Mr. Jefferson a very delightful 268th birthday!