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University of Missouri

Jefferson’s Legacy

Thomas Jefferson’s grave marker sits next to the Columns.

Academic Hall

Jefferson’s tombstone has been set in various places at MU, including in front of Academic Hall. Photo courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Thomas Jefferson's grave marker

The monument now sits on Francis Quadrangle near the Columns. Photo by Rob Hill.

The tombstone of Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), an early proponent of state-supported universities, came to MU from the Monticello cemetery in Virginia as a gift from his descendants.

Set in Stone

Originally set near Academic Hall in 1885, the monument moved several times before arriving at its current site on Francis Quadrangle during the U.S. bicentennial year of 1976. Jefferson wrote: “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. … They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

Thomas Jefferson's epitaph

When Jefferson wrote his epitaph, he did not include serving as president of the United States. Photo by Rob Hill.

Smithsonian Saves the Day

Seven years after Jefferson died, a granite obelisk with an inset carved marble epitaph was placed at his grave in Monticello cemetery. Vandals soon damaged the tablet, and it was removed for safekeeping. Later at MU, the tablet was stored in Academic Hall and further damaged in the 1892 fire that destroyed the building. The Smithsonian Institution plans to restore the tablet, after which Mizzou will display it.

Parting Words

Here was buried Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
And Father of the University of Virginia.”