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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 DNA confirmation 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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