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Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings

Info: 1638 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 11th Sep 2017 in Politics

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Sally Hemmings was the daughter of Elizabeth Hemmings. Sally was born in 1733, most people thought she was mulatto. A mulatto was a common term used during slavery when an African American slave and white person create a relations.

Most people asked why she had power over Thomas Jefferson. But her family and friends were just trying to make sure that she was being well taken care of by Thomas. It was very possible that Thomas could lose his job for carrying a relationship with a slave. Sally was considered a “pampered” slave, but she got what she wanted for her children.

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Was their mixed marriage relationship and mistake? If one were to have an interracial relationship it would be kept in the dark from society or a consequence was paid. “After the death of John Wayles and Martha Wayles which was sally’s parents. Thomas Jefferson inherited the ownership Hemmings family and moved all of them to Monticello when he lived there. That would be known as the new residence for the Hemmings. The place where the two had met.

“Some speculate that due to their kinship, Hemmings and Martha Jefferson may have looked very similar which could have been a key factor in Jefferson’s attraction to Sally Hemmings. Since there is no factual evidence in writing from either Thomas Jefferson or Sally Hemmings, many people relied on other family member’s writings and used assumptions to draw conclusions about their relationship. Till this day, many people still have inconclusive evidence about their relationship and why it lasted a long time. Sally made the decision to continue a long term relationship with Thomas Jefferson, after a heavy evaluation of her options, her conditions and the little empowerment she had over Thomas Jefferson.

Although Thomas Jefferson was a founding father of the United States of America, he was still human. That being said, Jefferson could have committed the act of having children with one of his slaves Sally Hemmings. Due to the evidence given, this is known to be true. The light treatment of the Hemmings family, the emancipation of the Hemmings family, and Madison and Eston Hemmings accounts of claiming Thomas Jefferson as their father are all reasons that point to the fact that Jefferson indeed fathered the children of Sally Hemmings. Thomas Jefferson often treated the Hemmings family lightly, or without a big workload. As it is stated in A Brief Biography of Sally Hemmings´ Sally’s son Madison recalled that one of [Sally’s] duties was to take care of [Jefferson’s] chamber and wardrobe, look after us children, and do light work such as sewing.´(A Brief Biography of Sally Hemmings´) Along with the light workload, she was also paid occasionally a monthly wage of twelve lire’s.´(A Brief Biography of Sally Hemmings´) This small payment and light workload signifies that Jefferson had some emotional ties to Sally considering he did not pay his other slaves anything. Of all the slaves that Jefferson owned, it is not recorded that any of them received special treatment other than teeming’s family. Thomas Jefferson treated Sally well as she was his daughters nurse throughout her life. While Jefferson was in France, it is recorded that Sally was sent to France to accompany Martha and Maria Jefferson. It is said by Madison Hemmings that during that time [in France] my mother became Mr. Jefferson’s concubine and when he was called back home she was enceinte by him.´ (³The Memoirs of Madison Hemmings´) Madison Hemmings also stated that soon after their arrival [from France] (Memoirs of Madison Hemmings´) Not only did the Hemmings family receive light treatment, but they were the only slaves of Thomas Jefferson to be emancipated by him, with the exception of one of his body servants. Israel Jefferson a slave of Thomas Jefferson stated that [Jefferson’s] death was an affair of great moment and uncertainty to us slaves, for Mr. Jefferson provided for the freedom of seven servants only; Sally, his chambermaid, who took the name Hemmings, her four children. Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston, John Hemmings, brother to Sally, and Brunel Colburn and old and faithful body servant. Never emancipated any slaves but hose of the Hemmings family. Other than being the concubine or kin of Thomas Jefferson, there was no reason that Thomas Jefferson would emancipate his slaves according to his life as a slave owner. Jefferson clearly wrote in his will that the Hemmings family be free of their slave bond a great a certain age, most likely the age of 21. Another piece of evidence that Jefferson fathered children by Sally Hemmings is the accounts that ³Both Madison and Eston Hemmings made known their belief that they were the sons of Thomas Jefferson.´(A Brief Biography of Sally Hemmings´) In ³The Memoirs of Madison Hemmings,´ Madison refers to Thomas Jefferson Directly as ³father´ six times when he writes of him. Madison grew up with Thomas Jefferson as his father and continued to follow this belief throughout his life. ³We were the only children of by a slave woman proclaimed Madison. This particular statement assures that Jefferson’s relationship with Sally and her Children relates to their emancipation in Jefferson’s will. Madison and Eston Hemmings are not the only accounts of assurance that they are Jefferson’s children. Israel Jefferson also gives assurance that Thomas Jefferson was, in fact, the father of Sally Heming’s children. In his memoir I also know servant, Sally Hemmings was employed as his chambermaid, and that Mr. Jefferson was in the most intimate terms with her; that, in fact, she was his concubine. This I knew from an intimate relationship. Sally can conscientiously confirm his statement as any other fact which I believe from circumstance but do not positively know. Thomas Jefferson was by no doubt the father of Sally Heming’s children. The relationship between Thomas Jefferson and the Hemmings Family was not a coincidence. Jefferson’s acts were only proof that he was human. Many other great men in history have had similar stories to that of Jefferson’s. Thomas Jefferson was the father of Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston Hemmings as evidence of the light treatment and emancipation he gave to the Hemmings family and the memoirs of the Hemmings family and Israel Jefferson.

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Was it true was the question most people asked In 1997, Dr. Eugene Foster, a retired medical professor, began investigating the possibility of a genetic link between living descendants of Thomas Jefferson and those of Sally Hemmings. He compared the blood from five descendants of Field Jefferson, Thomas’s paternal uncle, with the blood of the descendants of Sally Hemmings, Thomas Woodson, and the Cars. The DNA was extracted from the blood samples at the University of Virginia, then sent to Oxford, England where it was tested by three different laboratories. The results showed a match between the Y chromosomes of the Field Jefferson descendants and the Eston Hemming descendent, providing strong support to the theory that Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one of Sally Heming’s children. The chances that this match happened by coincidence are less than .1 percent.

Was the case closed? A claim that most Jefferson scholars had earlier considered so implausible that nearly all of them rejected it without a truly rigorous investigation-has gained new credibility and extensive national publicity. In 1997, law professor Annette Gordon-Reed reviewed the evidence and concluded that the case for Jefferson’s paternity was much stronger than scholars had supposed. In 1999, DNA tests proved compatible with the possibility that Jefferson had fathered Eston Hemmings, Sally’s youngest son. The DNA report, a conference held at the University of Virginia, a volume of essays resulting from that conference. Madison Hemmings, another of Sally’s sons, said that he and his siblings were Jefferson’s children (and his only slave children) in a report which accords in much of its substance with other sources. According to this interview, Thomas and Sally initiated an affair while they were together in Paris from 1787 to 1789. Sally became pregnant and agreed to return to the United States after they entered into a “treaty” in which Jefferson promised “extraordinary privileges” for Sally and freedom for her children when they reached age 21.

Some very interesting facts would be Madison Hemmings, another of Sally’s sons, said that he and his siblings were Jefferson’s children in a report which accords in much of its substance with other sources. According to this interview, Thomas and Sally initiated an affair while they were together in Paris from 1787 to 1789. Sally became pregnant and agreed to return to the United States after they entered into a “treaty” in which Jefferson promised “extraordinary privileges” for Sally and freedom for her children when they reached age 21. A supposed resemblance between Thomas Jefferson and some of Sally Hemming’s children (or other Monticello slaves) is hardly evidence of a very substantial kind. A resemblance is often seen by some observers and denied by others. Later in life by 2003 there was a book published the attorney/historian, Annette Gordon Reed, published a book on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, The Hemmings of Monticello: An American Family, a follow-up to her 1998 book, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings: An American Controversy.

 

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