Jefferson–Hemings controversy - Wikipedia
of my book Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, I have Their legal relationship to one another—and the world they shared—is. In this lesson, we will learn about Sally Hemings and the investigation undertaken in to determine if Thomas Jefferson fathered her six. A scholar makes the intriguing case that Adams gossiped about the relationship years before the news erupted in public.
After his youngest daughter, Lucy Elizabeth, died in Jefferson sent for his surviving daughter, nine-year-old Maria Polly Jefferson, to live with him. The teenage slave Sally Hemings was chosen to accompany Polly to France after an older slave became pregnant and could not make the journey. According to Abigail Adams"The old Nurse whom you expected to have attended her, was sick and unable to come.
She has a Girl about 15 or 16 with her. Petit, arranged transportation and escorted the girls to Paris. In a letter to Jefferson on June 27,Abigail wrote, "The Girl who is with [Polly] is quite a child, and Captain Ramsey is of opinion will be of so little Service that he had better carry her back with him. But of this you will be a judge. She seems fond of the child and appears good naturd. Jefferson paid wages to her and James while they were in Paris.
Sally Hemings also was learning French. Whatever the weekday arrangements, Jefferson and his retinue spent weekends together at his villa. According to her son Madison's memoir, Hemings became pregnant by Jefferson in Paris. She was about 16 at the time. She agreed to return with him to the United States, based on his promise to free their children when they came of age at As shown by Jefferson's father-in-law, John Wayleswealthy Virginia widowers frequently had long-term relations with enslaved women.
This would not have been unusual for Jefferson as well; white society simply expected these men to be discreet about such relationships. Those Jefferson records that have survived mutilation and purge note that Hemings had six children after her return to the US: Unlike his practice in recording births of other slaves, he did not note the father of Hemings' children.
It is not known whether she was literate, and she left no known writings. She is believed to have lived as an adult in a room in Monticello's "South Dependencies", a wing of the mansion accessible to the main house through a covered passageway.
It was space that had been converted to other public uses in Hemings' room will be restored and refurbished as part of a major restoration project for the complex.
Its goals include telling the stories of all the families at Monticello, both slave and free. As a slave, she could not have a marriage recognized under Virginia law, but many slaves at Monticello are known to have taken partners in common-law marriages and had stable lives. Then age 68, Hemings claimed Jefferson as his and his siblings' father. He said that when Jefferson and Sally Hemings were still in Paris, she became pregnant with his child.
Based on Jefferson's promise to free her children when they came of age, she returned with him to the United States from France, where slavery had been banned.
He and other critics essentially discounted Hemings' memoir, while attributing to him a range of negative motives for telling his story. In his work, Parton repeated the Jefferson family's oral history about a Carr paternity and the claim that Jefferson was absent during the conception period of one of Hemings' children. In the s, as part of his six-volume biography of Jefferson, Malone was the first to publish a letter by Ellen Randolph Coolidge, Randolph's sister that added to the Carr paternity story.
But she claimed that the late Samuel Carr, brother to Peter and also a nephew of Jefferson's through his sister, had fathered Hemings' children.
Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: A Brief Account | Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
Like Peter, Samuel was married when Hemings' children were born. Neither of the Randolphs named Jefferson's nephews as putative fathers of Hemings' children until after the men had died. They noted he had expressed antipathy to blacks and miscegenation in his writings, and he was thought to have a "high" moral character.
They provided extensive data about slaves and slave births, including all of Sally Hemings' children, and have been used extensively by researchers. Black oral history preserved the account of the Jefferson-Hemings relationship, and the place of African Americans at the center of United States history. Black historians began to publish material related to the mixed-race Hemings descendants.
Lerone Bennettin his article, "Thomas Jefferson's Negro Grandchildren," published in Ebony in Novemberexamined the current lives of individuals claiming descent from this union. It was based on material from the Farm Books, as well as a detailed timeline of Jefferson's activities developed by historian Dumas Malone in his extensive biography. This was published in several volumes beginning in the s. Graham noted that Hemings conceived her children only when Jefferson was in residence at Monticello, during a time when he traveled frequently and was away for lengthy periods.
Graham also provided biographical information on Sally's children; she supported accounts that Hemings and Jefferson had several children together. She addressed the rumors of Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings, his quadroon slave, conducted extensive research, and concluded that they had a long relationship. Its records of slave births, deaths, purchases and sales, and other information, has provided researchers with considerable data about the lives of slaves at Monticello, including the births of all Sally Hemings' known children.
His documentation in his multi-volume biography published — provided the details that Pearl Graham analyzed to show Jefferson was at Monticello for the conception of each of Hemings' children.
She never conceived when he was not there. Martha Randolph, Jefferson's daughter with Martha Wayles Jefferson, had made a deathbed claim that Jefferson was away for a month period during which one of the Hemings children was conceived.
Gordon-Reed shows this claim is not supported by Malone's documentation; Jefferson was at Monticello at the time of conception of each child. He acknowledged that the relationship was possible. This analysis, commonly referred to as a Monte Carlo simulationwas done by the head of archaeology at Monticello.
Holowchak argues that "Statistical arguments are only as good as the data that go into them. When you contaminate the data, even slightly, by selectively culling data that will secure the sought-out conclusion and by ignoring relevant evidence that creates difficulties for the thesis, then the results can become massively skewed—hence, the 0.
When mixed-race children were sired by the master, they were frequently named after people from his family. At working age, they were each apprenticed to the master carpenter of the estate, the most skilled artisan, who was also their uncle.
This would provide them with skills to make a good living as free adults. Harriet Hemings did not begin working as a weaver until she was fourteen years old.
Another example is that unlike other slaves, Madison Hemings stated that until they were put to work, they would run errands with Sally. This was very uncommon. Most importantly, Gordon-Reed notes that Jefferson freed all the Hemings children. Theirs was the only slave family to all go free from Monticello; they were the only slaves freed in their youth and as they came of age, and Harriet Hemings was the only female slave he ever freed.
Jefferson avoided publicity this way, but the gentry at the time noted the Hemingses' absences; Monticello overseer Edmund Bacon noted in his memoir published after Jefferson's death that people were talking about Harriet's departure, saying that she was Jefferson's daughter.
Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: A Brief Account
To enable them to stay in Virginia, Jefferson's will petitioned the legislature for permission for them to stay in the state with their families. Such legislative approval was required by laws related to manumission and free blacks.
Jefferson also freed three older males from the extended Elizabeth Hemings family; they had each served him for decades. His will also requested that they be allowed to stay in the state. David Page, one of the committee's scientific case reviewers, recommended that additional research needed to be done into "the local population structure around Monticello two hundred years ago, as respects the Y chromosome," before entirely ruling out the possibility of the paternity of any of the other 7 potential paternity candidates.
Historical consensus[ edit ] With the Carr nephews disproved and a match for the Eston Hemings descendant found with the Jefferson male line, formerly skeptical biographers, such as Joseph Ellis and Andrew Burstein, publicly said they had changed their opinions and concluded that Jefferson had fathered Hemings' children.
So, as far as can be reconstructed, there are no Jeffersons other than the president who had the degree of physical access to Sally Hemings that he did.
Jordanpresident of Monticello, committed at the time to incorporate "the conclusions of the report into Monticello's training, interpretation, and publications. New exhibits at Monticello show Jefferson as the father of the Sally Hemings children. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings Redux, a total of seven articles noting the changed consensus and the developing new views on Jefferson.
Neiman, who studied the statistical significance of the relationship between Jefferson's documented residencies at Monticello and Hemings' conceptions. It stated in its overview: More than 20 years after CBS executives were pressured by Jefferson historians to drop plans for a mini-series on Jefferson and Hemings, the network airs Sally Hemings: Though many quarreled with the portrayal of Hemings as unrealistically modern and heroic, no major historian challenged the series' premise that Hemings and Jefferson had a year relationship that produced children.
In several articles, its specialists concluded that, as the genealogist Helen M. Leary wrote, the "chain of evidence": Foster later said that Barger was "fantastic" and "of immense help to me". Turner and Paul Rahe, among others.Soulmates Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson AU-PART 3-Dinner party disaster-(Christmas special)
In the group published its report, in which the majority concluded there was insufficient evidence to determine that Jefferson was the father of Hemings' children. Their report suggested that his younger brother Randolph Jefferson was the father, and that Hemings may have had multiple partners. They emphasized that more than 20 Jefferson males lived in Virginia, eight within 20 miles of Monticello. Paul Rahe published a minority view, saying he thought Jefferson's paternity of Eston Hemings was more likely than not.
Similarly, no documentation of a Randolph visit appears at the probable conception time for Madison Hemings. The team had concluded that Jefferson's paternity was the simplest explanation and consistent with historic evidence, but the DNA study could not identify Thomas Jefferson exclusively of other Jefferson males because no sample of his DNA was available. He noted "previous testimony had agreed" that Hemings had only one father for her children, and criticized the idea that she had multiple partners for her children.
Andrew Holowchak is a stentorian critic of advocates of pro-paternity. In numerous publications, he asserts that we are in no position to assert anything other than this: We do not know. The situation at Monticello is toxic.