The end of the War of 1812 left the young United States of America awash with nationalist fervor. In the following years, the world’s first modern republic experienced unprecedented growth and prosperity; it was not without reason that the period came to be known as the “Era of Good Feelings.” It was into this epoch of unbridled national pride that Thomas Jefferson, one of the country’s founding fathers and its third President, introduced his master plan for the University of Virginia: an architectural manifestation of the Enlightenment and republican ideals he had helped cultivate. Although he was first and foremost a statesman, Thomas Jefferson was also a capable self-trained, if purely avocational, architect. Fittingly for a man who had helped to engineer a revolt against the United Kingdom’s colonial rule, Jefferson largely eschewed English architectural influences preferring instead the works of Andrea Palladio and the ruins of Ancient Rome. His first design project, begun before the War of Independence, was his own home: Monticello, a Neoclassical mansion with French and Palladian influences set at the peak of a small mountain. Jefferson was also responsible for the Virginia State Capitol, which he modeled upon the Maison Carrée, a former Roman temple in Nimes, France.
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