Ronald van Tienhoven vertelde tijdens Age of Wonder dat Thomas Jefferson elke ochtend, afhankelijk van zijn humeur, besloot om links of rechts uit bed te stappen – links betekende een sociale dag, rechts een dag waarop hij zich terugtrok. Monticello als ruimteschip.

A typical day for Jefferson started early, because, in his own words, “Whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun.” He told of a fifty-year period in which the sun had never caught him in bed; he rose as soon as he could read the hands of the clock kept directly opposite his bed.

Jefferson saw alcove beds during his years in France, and admired the space-saving qualities of these beds built into walls. Upon his return from Europe, Jefferson redesigned Monticello, adding at least one alcove (and sometimes two) in every bedroom. A continual innovator, he varied the design for his own bed, leaving both sides open to loosely connect his bedroom with his study. He also saved space by placing closets in the walls over his and other beds. His closet – which has openings for air and light – was accessible via a small ladder kept at the head of the bed.

After his morning routine, Thomas Jefferson settled into a lengthy period of letter-writing: “From sun-rise to one or two o’clock,” he noted, “I am drudging at the writing table.” Jefferson wrote almost 20,000 letters in his lifetime, among them, scholarly musings to colleagues, affectionate notes to his family, and civil responses to admirers. He wrote John Adams that he suffered “under the persecution of letters,” calculating that he received 1,267 letters in the year 1820, “many of them requiring answers of elaborate research, and all to be answered with due attention and consideration.”

Jefferson researched and wrote these letters in what has been called the earliest modern office. Jefferson’s Cabinet was, in contemporary language, “user-friendly,” with a revolving bookstand, table, and chair. Here Jefferson used a copying machine to make duplicate sets of his letters, which he kept in filing presses, tying them into bundles organized alphabetically and chronologically. This arrangement allowed Jefferson to pinpoint the location of any given letter, and even send for a particular one when he was away from Monticello.

In the late evening, Thomas Jefferson retired to his private suite of rooms, what one guest called his “sanctum sanctorum.” The suite arrangement was a feature he had seen in France, and consisted of four connected rooms: his Bedroom; Study, or Cabinet; Greenhouse; and Book Room. In these rooms, Jefferson pursued any of several activities, ranging from architecture and astronomy to the more mundane, accounting.

In 1819, at the age of seventy-six, Jefferson wrote that he slept “five to eight hours, according as my company or the book I am reading interests me.”