Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson - The Descendents

  Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson was a draftsman of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president (1801-09). He was also responsible for the Louisiana Purchase.

Relationship with Sally Hemings

At home, Jefferson spent his time farming, managing his finances and making improvements to the estate. It was also at this time that Jefferson most likely had an affair with a slave named Sally Hemings, who was in fact Martha Jefferson's half-sister. Sally's mother, Betty Hemings, was a slave owned by Jefferson's father-in-law, John Wayles, who was the father of Betty's daughter Sally. While there is no definitive proof that Thomas Jefferson had children with Sally Hemings, the circumstantial evidence is all but conclusive: Jefferson was with Sally (either in France or at Monticello) nine months before the birth of all six of her children.

Furthermore, historical records corroborate the stories passed down orally through the Hemings family. Most compelling is recently produced DNA evidence showing that some male member of the Jefferson family fathered Hemings' children, and that it was not Samuel or Peter Carr, the only two of Jefferson's male relatives in the vicinity at the relevant times. It is therefore overwhelmingly likely, if not absolutely certain, that Thomas Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings' children.

Sarah "Sally" Hemings (c. 1773 – 1835) was an enslaved woman of mixed race owned by President Thomas Jefferson and who is believed to have had a long-term relationship and six children with him, of whom four survived and all were given freedom by Jefferson. Hemings was the youngest of six siblings by the planter John Wayles and his mixed-race slave Betty Hemings; Sally was three-quarters European and a half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles Skelton.

In 1787, Hemings, at the age of 14, accompanied Jefferson's youngest daughter Mary (Polly) to London and then to Paris, where the widowed Jefferson, 44 years old at the time, was serving as the United States Minister to France. Hemings spent two years there. It is believed by most historians that Jefferson began a sexual relationship with Hemings either in France or soon after their return to Monticello. Hemings had six children of record born into slavery; four survived to adulthood. Hemings was a domestic servant in Jefferson's house until his death.
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