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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thomas Jefferson Installment #2 (#8)

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings- The American Scandal

Thomas Jefferson is viewed as one of the greatest Founding Fathers for the United States. However, he also has a very scandalous secret that was kept from the public until September of 1802, when political journalist, James T. Callender, wrote in a Richmond newspaper that Jefferson had for many years "kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves." "Her name is Sally," Callender continued, adding that Jefferson had "several children" by her. Although there had been rumors of a sexual relationship between Jefferson and an enslaved woman before 1802, Callender's article spread the story widely. It was taken up by Jefferson's Federalist opponents and was published in many newspapers during the remainder of Jefferson's presidency.
The Jefferson-Hemings story was persistent through the 19th century, however, was only discussed in private. Two of her children, Madison and Eston, stated that Jefferson was their father, spreading the accusation orally through generations of their descendants as an important family truth. Through the 20th century, some historians accepted the possibility of a Jefferson-Hemings connection and a few gave it credence, but most Jefferson scholars found the case for such a relationship unpersuasive.
In 1998, Dr. Eugene Foster and a team of geneticists challenged the view that the Jefferson-Hemings relationship could be neither refuted nor substantiated. The results of the DNA test, which tested Y-chromosomal DNA samples from male-line descendants of Field Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson's uncle), John Carr (grandfather of Jefferson's Carr nephews), Eston Hemings, and Thomas Woodson--indicated a genetic link between the Jefferson and Hemings descendants. The results of the study showed that an individual carrying the male Jefferson Y chromosome fathered Eston Hemings. The study authors stated “the simplest and most probable" conclusion was that Thomas Jefferson had fathered Eston Hemings.

In January 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation research committee reported that all known evidence (DNA tests, original documents, written and oral data, and statistical data) indicated a high probability that Thomas Jefferson was not only the father of Eston Hemings, but also Harriet, Beverly, an unnamed daughter who died in infancy, Harriet, and Madison. All six of Sally Heming’s children.
Sally Hemings Portrait
Link to Installment #1- http://www.cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2015/11/thomas-jefferson-8.html

Sources- https://www.monticello.org/site/plantation-and-slavery/thomas-jefferson-and-sally-hemings-brief-account

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading Jon Meacham's book on TJ now. He's a fascinating, paradoxical figure who had to have felt the hypocrisy of his public position.