The University of Virginia and the area surrounding it are rich in natural beauty and American history. We welcome the opportunity to acquaint you with the University, its environs, and the history of the area, including that of the University's founder, Thomas Jefferson.
A visit to Charlottesville (map) should include a visit of Monticello , home of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, author of the Declara- tion of Independence, and Founder of the University of Virginia. More recently and perhaps less notably, Bill Clinton began his presidency by giving an address on the steps of Monticello on the day of his inauguration before travelling up Highway 29 to Washington following the route Jefferson took to Washington to take office in 1803. If you want a preview of what Jefferson looks like, take a look at a nickel. On the reverse is a picture of his home, Monticello. All humor aside, Monticello is an interesting place and full of clever devices that Jefferson adopted for his use.
Ash Lawn, home of James Monroe, the 5th president of the United States lies 2.5 miles beyond Monticello. If you have time to visit you can see the table on which the "Monroe Doctrine" was composed. Monroe's law offices have been integrated into campus and will be a short walk from where we will meet.
James Madison, the 4th president of the United States, known as "the Father of the American Constitution", made his home at Montpelier, located about 15 minutes from Charlottesville. Zachary Taylor,the 12th president of the US also made his home close to Charlottesville. Along with Jefferson and Monroe, he was a member of the first "Board of Visitors" of the University. Monroe was a sitting president at the time of the inauguration of UVa.
Among the other temporary residents of Charlottesville were Woodrow Wilson, and Bobby and Teddy Kennedy who attended law school at UVa.
Charlottesville is not only famous for politicians. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark of the 1803 Lewis and Clark expedition were local lads. Dr. Thomas Walker led the first expedition to the west to open up the trans- Appalacian U.S. in the mid 1700's.
Much of the early history of the United States was played out within 150 miles of Charlottesville. While the ambiance of Charlottesville is colonial and Revolutionary America, if you would like to see an even earlier era in colonial history, you should visit Williamsburg , Virginia on the Yorktown Peninsula. Williamsburg is a restored colonial village and is one of the oldest settlements in the United States. Near Williamsburg is Yorktown, the site of Cornwallis' surrender to General George Washington, which signalled the end of the Revolutionary War. Finally, Washington, D.C. is only 100 miles distance from Charlottesville.
For the Civil War era, one should visit Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, some 90 miles to the east of Charlottesville. Many of the major battles of the U.S.. Civil war between Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac were fought close to Charlottesville. First and Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and finally, Appomattox Court House were among the largest battles ever fought in the western hemisphere as the U.S. tried to resolve free vs. slave and the survival of the Union. Charlottesville was spared any major damage during the Civil War. The only military personage to visit Charlottesville during the Civil War was George Armstrong Custer. The citizens of Charlottesville (already dominated by academics from the University) showed their grit and resolve to resist the northern invader by offering George the keys to the city. George Custer liked the treatment so much that he later returned to visit again during the war.
For those of you who are not history buffs, the area around Charlottesville has many small vineyards , all of which offer wine tastings. An abundance of hiking and nature trails among the lakes and mountains in both the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah Valley are only 30 miles from Charlottesville. The Wintergreen Ski Resort is only a 40 minute drive from Charlottesville. We encourage you to come early and stay to enjoy the area.