There are three bodies of evidence used to accuse Thomas Jefferson of fathering children with his slave Sally Hemings.*
1.1998 DNA evidence
2.Oral Tradition evidence
3.Published newspaper reports from Jefferson’s day
In part 1, I reviewed the DNA evidence. In this part, I offer the Oral evidence. First, we need to become aware of the children of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings:
i.Thomas Jefferson is known to have had five children**:
Martha(nick-named Patsy); Mary(Nick-named Maria or Polly);
Jane; Lucy Elizabeth I; Lucy Elizabeth II.
ii.Sally Hemings is known to have had at least seven children:
Thomas(1790-1879); Harriet1 (1795-1797); Beverly(1798-1873);
Thenia(1799-1799); Harriet2 (1801-1863); Madison(1805-1877);
The Oral evidence supporting Thomas Jefferson as the father of Sally Hemings children originates from two sources: 1.Media and; 2.Family: a couple Hemings descendants.
1.Media. From the media to academia, thousands of writers and authors have declared that Sally Hemmings was either or both a concubine of, or was raped by, Thomas Jefferson. For example,
i."Sally Hemings bore President Thomas Jefferson six children, yet
his legitimate descendants tried their best to discredit her
ii.“The strongest evidence supporting Thomas C. Woodson's
connection to Monticello is the enduring oral history in the
iii.CBS reports on two of Thomas Jefferson’s descendants; one
black and the other white.
If you google this controversy, you will find hundreds of articles, almost none reporting on the DNA evidence I presented last week. I repeat, I could not find even one!
In 1873, in an Ohio newspaper, Madison Hemings testified: “my mother became Mr Jefferson’s concubine, and when he was called back home, she was enceinte (pregnant) by him with Thomas Woodson”.
Historian David Barton responds, “But the DNA testing disproved two of Madison Hemings’ major claims: 1.there were no Jefferson genes in Sally’s first child, Thomas; 2.Sally did not return home pregnant by Jefferson.” (pg44)
“Yet, modern authors such as Professor Annette Gordon-Reed believe that Jefferson was guilty of all that Madison charged him with.” To support her belief that Jefferson had plenty of opportunity to have sexual encounters with, i.e. rape Hemings; in her book, ‘Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings: An American Controversy’, Professor Gordon-Reed ‘reprinted’ a letter written in 1858 by Ellen Randolph Coolidge (Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter) describing the rooms at Monticello. Professor Reed quotes Coolidge:
“His(Jefferson’s) apartment had no private entrance not perfectly accessible and visible to all the household. No female domestic ever entered his chambers except at hours when he was known not to be in the public gaze.”(pg44)
By using the granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson own words, Professor Reed wanted to prove that Hemings could have entered Thomas Jefferson’s private apartment when no one was watching. If this is true, it is strong support for her position. However, there is just one problem; Professor Gordon-Reed intentionally changed what Coolidge wrote. The exact Coolidge statement was:
“His(Jefferson’s) apartment had no private entrance not perfectly accessible and visible to all the household. No female domestic ever entered his chambers except at hours when he was known not to be there; and none could have entered without being exposed to the public gaze.”(pg45)
I repeat, Professor Gordon-Reed intentionally omitted the above highlighted part from Coolidge’s original statement, “completely reversing its message” (pg45).
Barton continues, “Significantly, the granddaughter had actually said that (1)no one could have entered without being seen, and that (2) no female staff entered Jefferson’s room unless he was not there. But Reed re-wrote what his granddaughter had actually said. She changed the quotation, cutting out the most important part without the use of an ellipse or any other indication that she had purposely removed that key segment.” (pg44-45)
When many liberal contemporary authors are confronted with the actual DNA facts, and the oral history facts of this controversy, the response of academics like African-American Professor Gordon-Reed is to cry, “Racism!”.
One of the curses released in the earth just before the coming of the Lord is that men will: “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom1:18).
*This tidbit series is indebted to David Barton, and his incredible book “The Jefferson Lies”. All quotes with page numbers come from his book.
**There is also a possible son, who died early.
The person who invests time educating himself will reap a lifetime of extra knowledge, fun and income. -Ron White