“Wormley, the aged slave already referred to in this work, was between nine and ten years old when Mr. Jefferson returned from France [in 1789], and when we talked with him in 1851, had a distinct recollection of the reception scene described above, and he gave us, partly from recollection and partly from the statements of his fellows, several minor touches of the story.
Two or three days before reaching home, Mr. Jefferson had sent an express directing his overseer to have his house made ready for his reception by a specified day. The overseer mentioned this, and the news flew like wildfire over the different farms which it is customary to mention collectively as Monticello. The slaves could hardly attend to their work. They asked leave to make his return a holiday and of course received permission. Bright and early were all up on the appointed day, washed clean of the stains of labor, and attired in their ‘Sunday best.’ They first determined to receive him at the foot of the mountain; and the women and children refusing to be left behind, down they marched in a body. Never dragged on hours so slowly! Finally, the men began to straggle onward–and the swarm did not settle again until they reached the confines of the estate, perhaps two miles from the house. By and by a carriage and four horses was seen rapidly approaching. The negroes raised a shout. The postillions plied their whips, and in a moment more, the carriage was in their midst. Martha’s description of what ensued is sufficiently accurate until the summit of the notch between Monticello and Carter’s Mountain was attained. She says, the carriage was almost drawn by hand. We consider old Wormley’s authority the best on this point! He pointed out the very spot soon after the carriage had turned off from the highway, when in spite of the entreaties and commands (not however, we imagine, very sternly uttered!) of the ‘old master,’ the horses were detached and the shouting crowd pushed and dragged the heavy vehicle at no snail’s pace up the further ascent, until it reached the lawn in front of the house.” (Henry S. Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson, 1865, 1: 552-553)