Until Fawn Brodie persuaded them they were mistaken, the descendants of Eston Hemings were told that his father was not the famous president but "an uncle." Randolph Jefferson was widely known as "Uncle Randolph" at Monticello (because of his relationship to Jefferson's daughters).
An investigator who believed the Jefferson-Hemings story half-a-century ago reported that Hemings descendants had told her that Randolph fathered children by his own slaves. The book Memoirs of a Monticello Slave, by former Monticello blacksmith Isaac Jefferson, reported that when Randolph visited Monticello he would spend his nights playing his fiddle and dancing "half the night" with Monticello slaves. The timing of the birth of Hemmings children also coincided with a time when Uncle Randolph was between wives.
posted on 05/04/2003 2:07:40 PM PDT
Sorry but I don't buy it. There are two Uncles which the Jefferson family tried to pin these births on. But since no birth ever occurred without TJ being availbable for fathering and the children were treated exceptionally well the Uncle link does not hold up for me.
And the births were over a twenty year span, I believe. Women in the Hemmings had a history of long-term linkages with one man and I believe Sally did that as well.
It is not likely that she would have been cavorting with Uncle at slave dances either from what I have read of her.
Fawn Brodie is not the only source of this linkage either and much information is available from the interviews done in the 1870s or 80s with one of Sally's sons. Brodie's book is a good one though and more than likely correct in its essence.
It should also be noted that these children were all quite successful and respected in their communities when they didn't "pass for white" and become anonymous like the girl. That sounds more like TJ than the shiftless ne'er do well uncles.
There is an interesting book about this by a black lady lawyer whose name I forget. I'll try and find it.
You are right that there will likely never be any definitive proof one way or the other and it is not that important. It is a fascinating means of reviewing a long lost society and its human stories.
I am not a Jefferson fan but not for this reason. Actually, I believe the affair shows a lot of positive features J. had. If true, it is a tragedy. Imagine a long-term Love which can never be revealed or acknowledged. How hard that would be.
posted on 05/05/2003 8:30:58 AM PDT
(RATS will use any means to denigrate George Bush's Victory.)
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