Fourth of July Speakers at Monticello

Researched by James R. Heintze. All Rights Reserved.


Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, has had an illustrious history of Independence Day celebrations. When the Levy family took over the ownership of Monticello in the nineteenth century, a tradition of celebration ensued. Typically the celebrations included homage to Jefferson with floral decorations at the grave, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and fireworks in the evening. A report in the Washington Post for July 7, 1888, states that "a large and distinguished party of guests congregated in the main hall of the mansion" and that it was "an annual custom which has been strictly observed ever since the death of the illustrious Jefferson." In the twentieth century, a tradition was added through speech-making by notable dignitaries. In 1963 naturalization ceremonies for new United States citizens, with a keynote speaker, were begun with the events typically taking place on the lawn of the mansion. That tradition continues today. For an excellent work on the Fourth of July at Jefferson's home, see The Great Birthday of Our Republic: Celebrating Independence Day at Monticello(Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., 2003). For an article on the history of Independence Day at Monticello, see James R. Heintze, The Fourth of July Encyclopedia (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2007), 186-88. Thanks to Bryan Craig, Research Librarian, at Monticello for providing his list of speakers for the years 1963-2000.

Monticello. Photograph from March, 1949. Heintze collection

Monticello, March, 1949. Shown on the front steps are members of the Heintze family. Anna Taborsky Heintze (far left), James Heintze, Anna May Heintze Cowan (in arms of Ruth Wilson Heintze, mother), Gustav Joseph Heintze, Jr., and Richard Heintze. Photograph by Gustav Joseph Heintze (father).

1926: Stuart O. Gibboney, President, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation; Claude G. Bowers, author of Jefferson and Hamilton; Mrs. Anthony Wayne Cook of Cooksburg, Pennsylvania, honorary president general, Daughters of the American Revolution. Source: "Two-Day Exercises at Monticello Attract Distinguished Speakers," Washington Sunday Star, 4 July 1926, 6.

1936: President Franklin D. Roosevelt

1947: President Harry S. Truman

1963: Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia

1964: Henry J. Taylor, former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland

1965: Monsieur Helde Alphaud, French Ambassador

1966: Torben Ronne, Danish Ambassador

1967: Henry H. Fowler, Secretary of the Treasury

1968: Eugene V. Rostow, Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Department of State

1969: U. Alexis Johnson, Undersecretary for Political affairs, Department of State

1970: J. Sargeant Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia

1971: Mills E. Godwin, Jr., former Governor of Virginia

1972: Harry Flood Byrd, Jr., U.S. Senator from Virginia

1973: Albertis S. Harrison, Jr., Justice, Supreme Court of Virginia and former Governor of Virginia

1974: Louis B. Wright, Director Emeritus, Folger Shakespeare Library

1975: Dumas Malone, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, emeritus, University of Virginia

1976: Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States

1977: Caryl Parker Haskins, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Trustee

1978: John N. Dalton, Governor of Virginia

1979: Clifton Waller Barrett, Thomas Jefferson Memorial foundation Trustee

1980: Charles F. Baldwin, Ambassador in Residence, University of Virginia

1981: Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia

1982: Charles S. Robb, Governor of Virginia

1983: J. Kenneth Robinson, U.S. representative, Seventh Virginia Congressional District

1984: John O. Marsh, Jr., Secretary of the Army

1985: John W. Warner, U.S. Senator from Virginia

1986: Kenneth W. Thompson, Director, White Burkett Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia

1987: Gerald L. Baliles, Governor of Virginia

1988: John Charles Thomas, Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia

1989: Henry J. Abraham, James Hart Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia

1990: L. Douglas Wilder, Governor of Virginia

1991: Jacques Andreani, Ambassador of France to the United States

1992: Carl Sagan, David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences, Cornell University

1993: John T. Casteen III, President, University of Virginia

1994: David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and historian

1995: Roberto C. Goizueta, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

1996: Richard Moe, President, National Trust for Historic Preservation

1997: General Colin L. Powell, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense

1998: Ambassador Andrew Young, Former U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations

1999: James S. Gilmore III, Governor of Virginia

2000: Madeline Albright, U.S. Secretary of State

2001: Vartan D. Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation

2002: Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

2003: Allen H. Neuharth, founder of the Freedom Forum and USA Today

2004: W. Richard West, Jr., founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.

2005: I.M. Pei, architect, native of China and U.S. citizen

2006: Christo and Jeanne-Claude, environmental artists

2007: Sam Waterston, actor

2008: Ken Burns, "documentary filmmaker, producer, and writer"

2009: Tom Perriello, U.S. Representative

2010: Tracey Ullman, actress

2011: Muhtar Kent, Chairman, Board and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company

This web page was updated in June 2011.