Thomas Jefferson is a towering figure in our nation’s history, but the DAR Museum owns several of his objects that reflect the private man. His great-nieces, Olivia and Margaret Taylor, donated these mementos in 1977.
A pair of cotton stockings, machine-knitted with ombre blue and white yarn, has a partial stamp from an English manufacturer. This means they probably date after the end of the War of 1812 and its accompanying trade embargoes, when the United States could import things from England again. A finely pleated linen neck stock—a precursor to the cravat and necktie—is hard to date as Jefferson is known to have worn stocks long after most men of the period had switched to cravats.
The pair of slipper socks probably alleviated Jefferson’s frequent complaint that he suffered from the cold. “I have no doubt but that cold is the source of more sufferance to all animal nature than hunger, thirst, sickness & all the other pains of life & of death itself put together,” he wrote in a letter in 1801.
All of these garments bear a cross-stitched inventory number and the initials “T I” for Thomas Jefferson (I and J being orthographically the same at the time), confirming Jefferson as the wearer of these items.
Left to right: Slipper socks, a neck stock and one of Jefferson’s stockings. The other stocking is currently on display in the Yochim Gallery at DAR National Headquarters.