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July 2018                                                          Viewpointe, Page 5

JICYMI from page 4                                                 evidence suggests Jefferson’s paternity for all of Sally Hemings’  concubine,” and became pregnant. Sally Hemings was happy
                                                                   children.                                                          in Paris, where she and her brother James had a chance for
	 In 1735 Elizabeth Hemming was born, the daughter of an           	 If the DNAconfirmation may seem insufficient to prove the        freedom. When Jefferson planned to return to the United States,
African woman and a white sea captain named John Wayles, a         relationship, coincidentally, just a few days before this article  she refused to leave. To persuade her, Jefferson promised the
slave trader who owned at least 135 slaves and large tracts of     was sent to the publisher, Annette Gordon Reed, the principal      16-year-old “extraordinary privileges” at Monticello if she
land. He had lost his third wife and ultimately took Elizabeth,    expert on the life of Sally Hemings, wrote the following in        complied. He also made a “solemn pledge” that any children
his slave, as his concubine. She had six of his children, one of   the New York Times: “Sally Hemings takes center stage in           she had would be freed when they became adults. So, did
whom was Sally Hemings. Wayles had a daughter, Martha, with        Monticello on Saturday [June 16], the Thomas Jefferson             Jefferson keep his word? The website “Digital History printed
his first wife, and after being widowed twice, Martha married      Foundation opens an exhibit in a space where she is said to have   an entire letter written by Jefferson’s son in 1873 tiltled
Thomas Jefferson. Thus, the First Lady of the United States        lived for some time. Her story is told through the recollections   “Madison Hemings Comments on the Thomas Jefferson-
was a half sister to Sally, a three quarter European, one quarter  of her son Madison Hemings, the third of four children she and     Sally Hemings Relationship.”
black slave that Martha owned.                                     Thomas Jefferson had who lived to adulthood. His memoir,           	 “But during that time my mother became Mr. Jefferson’s
	 For more than two centuries there was controversy as to          published in an Ohio newspaper in 1873, gives vital information    concubine, and when he was called back home she was enciente
whether Jefferson actually consorted with Sally, his 16 year-      about the Hemings family genealogy, his mother’s life and the      by him. He desired to bring my mother back to Virginia with
old slave, starting when he was in Paris as the United States      course of his own history.”                                        him but she demurred. She was just beginning to understand
Minister to France. This relationship entered the public arena     	 She then writes: At the heart of Madison Hemings’s               the French language well, and in France she was free, while
during Jefferson’s first term as president, and it has remained a  recollections is a dramatic moment in 1789 that occurred           if she returned to Virginia she would be re-enslaved. So she
subject of discussion and disagreement until recently. However,    between his parents while they were abroad in France when          refused to return with him. To induce her to do so he promised
in 1998, a DNA analysis confirmed the affair, and by 2000 a        Jefferson served as a diplomat. That’s when, according to          her extraordinary privileges, and made a solemn pledge that
consensus emerged among historians that the entirety of the        Madison Hemings, his mother became “Mr. Jefferson’s                her children should be freed at the age of twenty-one years. In
                                                                                                                                      consequence of his promise, on which she implicitly relied,
                                                                                                                                      she returned with him to Virginia. Soon after their arrival,
                                                                                                                                      she gave birth to a child, of whom Thomas Jefferson was the
                                                                                                                                      father. It lived but a short time. She gave birth to four others,
                                                                                                                                      and Jefferson was the father of all of them. Their names were
                                                                                                                                      Beverly, Harriet, Madison (myself), and Eston--three sons and
                                                                                                                                      one daughter. We all became free agreeably to the treaty
                                                                                                                                      entered into by our parents before we were born. We all
                                                                                                                                      married and have raised families.”
                                                                                                                                      	 Despite the justified criticism that can be directed against
                                                                                                                                      Jefferson for using his slave as a sex object, the fact that Sally
                                                                                                                                      remained with him until his death in 1826 at the age of 83,
                                                                                                                                      (she died ten years later) could signify that there was at least a
                                                                                                                                      degree of affection, if not love involved, and this is suggested
                                                                                                                                      by some historians. Keeping his pledge to Sally could serve as
                                                                                                                                      an indication of the character of the man himself. Remember,
                                                                                                                                      he is considered by most historians as the fifth best president
                                                                                                                                      of the United States.
                                                                                                                                      	 Next month we’ll investigate the next presidential
                                                                                                                                      philanderer.

                                                                                                                                      	 For copies of this or previous articles that have appeared
                                                                                                                                      in this column go to bobkronish.blogspot.com. Send comments
                                                                                                                                      to bobkronish.com. 
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