Sally Hemings had seven pregnancies. In addition to the children listed above, she had a daughter named Harriet, who was born in 1795 and died in 1797. She also had a daughter (unnamed) in 1799 who died not long after birth. DNA evidence all but confirms she and Jefferson had four children together. But while oral tradition in the Woodson family holds that Thomas Woodson (1790-1897) was the first child of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, there is no evidence of Thomas Woodson living at Monticello, nor does the DNA of his descendants match that of other Jefferson descendants. \n
HIS 2213 LU11 Were Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings Lovers?
Learning Unit #11 Lecture“Were Thomas Jefferson & Sally Hemings Lovers?”
Since Jefferson’s time, rumors of A Recent Hollywoodhis sexual involvement with Sally DramaHemings, a slave, have existed. starringSally—described as appearing Sam Neill & Carmen“mighty near white” in one Ejogoprimary source—was the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife, Martha,who died in 1781 when Thomaswas 39. (Yes, Jefferson’s father-in-law impregnated a slave, whobore Sally, who entered the worldas her father’s property.) Sallywas inherited by Martha &accompanied her half-sister toMonticello after the Jeffersons’marriage. Sally’s relationship with Jefferson may havebegun when he was ambassador to France (1787-89) & she was14-16 years old, acting as maid to Jefferson’s daughters.
In France, Sally and her brother James earned wages & under French law could have petitioned for their freedom. A Hemings family oral tradition claims that Sally wasalready pregnant & returned to the USA on the condition that herchildren would be freed & she would have an easy life atMonticello, both of which happened. Jefferson came back fromParis & became Secretary of State in Pres. Washington’s Cabinet.
Was Jefferson the Father of Sally Hemings’ Children?1786: Sally accompanied Jefferson to Paris as companionfor his daughter while Jefferson was ambassador to France1789: Jefferson household returned to AmericaSally remained in the Jefferson household.She bore 5 children. The oldest was Tom in 1790 andthe youngest was Eston in 1808.In 1802 Jefferson was accused of fathering Tom.He never responded directly to the accusation but did say thatALL the Federalists’ charges against him were false.Jefferson’s grandson and granddaughter claimed that at leastsome of Sally’s children were fathered by one of their cousinson their mother’s side, the Carrs.
A Federalist Political Cartoon from the Election of 1804 Attacking Jefferson for his relationship with Sally Hemings.Jefferson’s political opponents linked him to the bloodyFrench Revolution by portraying him as a rooster, its symbol.
Was Jefferson the Father of Sally Hemings’ Children?Tom was sold to the Woodson familyand took the name Tom Woodson.Eston was a slave, identified as ‘negro’ byVirginia law. But he took the name EstonHemings Jefferson and moved to MadisonWisconsin where he was accepted as a memberof white society.(Harriet Hemings, Sally’s daughter, was freedby Jefferson, moved to Philadelphia, and alsoredefined herself as “white.”)
Interracial Families in the USA• The Jefferson-Hemings affair demonstrates the wider phenomenon of interracial or multiracial families in America.• Almost all African Americans have a large number of European ancestors.• Recent measures suggest that on average African Americans have 17 - 20% European admixture.• Also there could be as much as 10% American Indian admixture.• Some members of interracial families have sought advantages in “passing” for white, which shows that race has everything to do with performance (in a social context) & nothing to do with biology.
What DNA Tells Us About the Jefferson-Hemings AffairIn 1998, Dr. Eugene Forster and his teaminvestigated the descendants of Tom and Estonand their prospective fathers. They tested: DNA from the Carr family male descendants DNA from the male descendants of Jefferson’s Uncle, Field Jefferson DNA from Tom Woodson’s male descendants DNA from Eston Jefferson’s male descendants
What DNA Tells Us About the Jefferson- Hemings AffairConclusions:--Thomas Woodson was fathered by a Carr, so PresidentJefferson did not lie when he denied beingthe father of Thomas Woodson.--Eston was fathered by a Jefferson. Are we sure he wasfathered by President Jefferson? All that can be said withabsolute certainty is that we are sure he was fathered bya Jefferson male. So, defenders of our third presidentpoint to Thomas Jefferson’s brother or nephew as thelikely source. BUT neither of them had the opportunitieswith Sally that Jefferson himself had, and oral traditionsof the Hemings family have always pointed to ThomasJefferson. The burden of disproving T. Jefferson’spaternity is now on his defenders.
The MonticelloAssociation, anorganization whosemembers canprove linealdescent fromThomas Jefferson,have thus far votedto excludemembers of theHemings family,despite the 1998DNA evidence. Notall members,however, agreewith theAssociation’sstance, & many ofthem haveattended inclusive,multiracial familyreunions, such asthe one picturedhere.