Skip to comments.The Selling of Sally Hemings
Posted on 09/14/2003 1:36:48 PM PDT by WaterDragon
The myth of Sally Hemings is for sale again. There has always been something about Thomas Jeffersons lovely black slave Sally Hemings that drives otherwise rational people nuts. From the pages of The New York Times to prize-winning historians, the spewings of pseudo-science and psychic friends network nattering have been truly monumental.
(Excerpt) Read more at oregonmag.com ...
It's not ancestor worship. It's more like stamp collecting, at least for me.
I've got a little bit of the whole world in my familly tree, from kings of England and Mayflower Pilgrims on the one hand, to abolitionist radicals and Indian chiefs and Mormon polygamists and black slaves on the other-- even one Gypsy.
The story of America is woven into every cell in my body. Probably it lives in yours too. Try to learn more about it someday, and I am sure you will find it interesting.
An article in the November 5, 1998, edition of Nature provides DNA evidence that Thomas Jefferson or some other male Jefferson such as Randolph, the brother of Thomas, could have been the father of one of the sons of Sally Hemings, who was a slave at Jefferson's Monticello. The technique relies on the fact that the human Y-chromosome is handed down directly from father to son and that all paternally related males will have the same Y-chromosome. Although Thomas Jefferson did not have any sons who survived to produce children, his father's brother, Field Jefferson, did have sons and it has been possible to locate 5 descendants of Field Jefferson who are in a direct male-line of descent. Thus, these individuals (descendants of Field Jefferson) should have the same Y-chromosome DNA as the Y-chromosome DNA of Thomas Jefferson and any male-line descendant of his.
The male-line descendants of two of Sally Hemmings sons were located and their Y-chromosome DNA was examined for comparison to the Y-chromosome DNA of Field Jefferson's descendants. The DNA from the five male-line descendants of Thomas Woodson, oldest son of Sally Hemings, did not match the Jefferson DNA. In fact, one of Woodson's descendants did not match well with the other four. However, the DNA from the one descendant of Eston Hemings, youngest son of Sally Hemings, did match the Jefferson DNA.
This lends credence to the supposition that Thomas Jefferson may have been the father of Eston Hemings. However, historian Williard S. Randall, notes, "There were 25 men within 20 miles of Monticello who were all Jeffersons and had the same Y chromosome. And 23 of them were younger than Jefferson, who was 65 years old when Eston was conceived." Randall, wrote a 1993 biography of Jefferson, titled, Thomas Jefferson: A Life. More detailed information is available. Three different authors provide some perspective on Jefferson and Hemings in The Nation. Finally, the The Jefferson-Hemings Scholars Commission concluded that Randolph Jefferson, Thomas' brother, was more likely to have fathered Eston Hemings.
In order to answer the question of whether or not Thomas Jefferson could have been the father of any of Sally Hemings' sons it is necessary to compare the Y-chromosome DNA from the living male-line descendants of Jefferson and Hemmings. Is has been possible to locate male-line descendants of two of Sally Hemings' sons, Thomas Woodson (the oldest) and Eston Hemings the (youngest), but not Madison Hemings whose male-line descendants did not survive the Civil War. Shown in the figure to the right is the lineage of the one male-line descendant (H21) of Eston Hemmings and the five male-line descendants (W55, W56, W69, W70, and W61) of Thomas Woodson whose DNA was analyzed as part of the study.
Furthermore, Thomas Jefferson did not have a son survive to reproduce so it was necessary to locate the male-line descendants of Thomas Jefferson's paternal uncle, Field Jefferson. Five such descendants (J41, J42, J47, J49, and J50) were located and their DNA was analyzed.
It was also possible to locate three male-line descendants (C27, C29, and C31) of Samuel and Peter Carr -- the sons of Thomas Jefferson's sister -- whom some consider as the possible fathers of Sally Hemings' children.
In the table below are the results of an examination of the Y-chromosome DNA of the 14 male-line descendants described above. Where an individual differs from the other members of his cohort, the allele difference is shown in bold face. The five descendants of Field Jefferson (and proxies for Thomas Jefferson) have identical Y-chromosome DNA alleles except for one microsatellite DNA from J50. This difference is most reasonably accounted for by assuming that a mutation occured.
The lone descendant of Eston Hemings has the same set of Y-chromosome DNA alleles as the descendants of Field Jefferson. This supports the claim that Thomas Jefferson could have been the father of Eston Hemings although it does not prove it since the father could have been any male who had the same Y-chromosome as Thomas Jefferson and was in the immediate vicinity of Sally Hemings nine months before the birth of Eston Hemings. In fact, historical evidence implicates Randolph Jefferson, Thomas' brother, as the more likely father of Eston Hemings. The Carr descendants have similar DNA among themselves but are clearly different from either the Jefferson or Hemings descendants.
Four of the descendants of Thomas Woodson are quite similar among themselves but different from Jefferson and Hemings although they do have similarities to the descendants of the Carr line. One of the Woodson descendants is quite different from all of the other individuals which suggests that one of the genetic ancestors was not in the direct line from Thomas Woodson.
|Bi Allelic Markers||Microsatellite STR||Mini Satellite MSY1|
|Jefferson||J41||0000001||15,12,4,11,3,9,11,10,15,13,7||(3)5, (1)14, (3)32, (4)16|
|J42||0000001||15,12,4,11,3,9,11,10,15,13,7||(3)5, (1)14, (3)32, (4)16|
|J47||0000001||15,12,4,11,3,9,11,10,15,13,7||(3)5, (1)14, (3)32, (4)16|
|J49||0000001||15,12,4,11,3,9,11,10,15,13,7||(3)5, (1)14, (3)32, (4)16|
|J50||0000001||15,12,4,11,3,9,11,10,16,13,7||(3)5, (1)14, (3)32, (4)16|
|Hemings||H21||0000001||15,12,4,11,3,9,11,10,15,13,7||(3)5, (1)14, (3)32, (4)16|
|Carr||C27||0000011||14,12,5,12,3,10,11,10,13,13,7||(1)17, (3)36, (4)21|
|C29||0000011||14,12,5,11,3,10,11,10,13,13,7||(1)17, (3)37, (4)21|
|C31||0000011||14,12,5,12,3,10,11,10,13,13,7||(1)17, (3)36, (4)21|
|Woodson||W55||0000011||14,12,5,11,3,10,11,13,13,13,7||(1)16, (3)27, (4)21|
|W56||0000011||14,12,5,11,3,10,11,13,13,13,7||(1)16, (3)27, (4)21|
|W69||0000011||14,12,5,11,3,10,11,13,13,13,7||(1)16, (3)27, (4)21|
|W70||1110001||17,12,6,11,3,11,8,10,11,14,6||(0)1, (3a)3, (1a)11,
(3a)30, (4a)14, (4)2
|W61||0000011||14,12,5,11,3,10,11,13,13,13,7||(1)16, (3)28, (4)20|
Fat burghers of officials are shipping them off to Scotland. I do not doubt your statement on your Scottish friend. Knowing the Scots (Some of 'em) as I do, I respectfully suggest said person was putting you on.
Moves are being made to create a melting pot there, by the multi-culturalist dabblers. Persons to the fore are Albanians at this point in time, trouble has errupted. Preferencial treatment the norm.
Well, I think that the Times is so committed to the idea of "diversity" as in diversity-at-a-glance, that they will automagically fall for anything that promotes a member of a minority group, and/or debases the memory of a key member of the traditional Establishment.
The irony is that the Times's own raace relations are disastrous... for one thing, individuals are seen as if the most important thing about them is their membership in a group. That Jayson Blair was a member of a group teh Times management wants to promote, to them, trumped all those little indicators of his character: the lying, the cheating on expences, the drug use. The really sad part of it is, that because they only see people based on group-membership, the next young black reporter to apply will meet the same insultingly low expectations that Blair did. Meanwhile the predominantly white (& disproportionately Jewish) editorial staff will be thinking what they don't dare say, "well, we can't expect much from one of 'them' because Blair showed us what 'they' are like."
Of course, it's a crock, but it's really how people who see the world through a prism of racism (benevolent no less than hostile) think.
Every once in a while the Time mentions some institution that doesn't have "enough" of some minority or other. They often compare the targeted institution to the military, where race relations are simply not much of an issue. They miss the point completely, because the Army, for instance, can do things employers can't do: conduct extensive pre-employment testing, and assign and train people strictly on their abilities without regard to superficialities. Black soldiers aren't resentful, because they know that they are assigned and promoted with scrupulous fairness. White soldiers serve confidently under black officers because they know that the officers met every standard every inch of the way. While a Jayson Blair can keep screwing up and go unpunished, a soldier can't hide behind his race or anything else: I saw a promising black colonel thrown out for a serious ethical lapse, and a white guy whose father was one of the legendary combat leaders in the history of the Army tossed out when he didn't measure up. If you have standards, race becomes a non-issue. But meaningful standards are forbidden to many civilian employers.
Compare the Army way to the NYT newsroom under Gerald Boyd, a man of limited ability who was put into a position of power because Punch and Raines wanted a black face and he was available.
The Sally Hemings story is of interest to these people, because the only thing in their world that matters is the part of your DNA that is similar to others from your own continent or geographical area. While racial differences are interesting to study, they are not proof of anything about specific human beings. Which is why conservatives, who see people as individuals, tend to be less focused on race (and indeed, less racist) than liberals, who define people based on involuntary group-membership.
Criminal Number 18F
No, it doesn't. The chromosome that was examined, the Y chromosome (the one that separates the boys from the girls!) is passed down unchanged from father to son. Therefore Thomas and Field, natural brothers, should have identical Y chromosomes.
The only way that the results would be "skewed" is if one of the other was a product of an extramarital affair (which probably explains the Woodson line that doesn't match... poor Tom Woodson thought he was that guy's father... only the mother knows for sure! ,P. D.O.L.
Criminal Number 18F
DANGIT, ya beat me to it!
(clinton voice-over) Whatch'all gettin' worked up about over me for? Hell, if ol' TJ could do it, that's a precendent, kinda. Ho'bout it, Hillary, think it'll fly? (heh heh, that was a good one!)
The DNA evidence is ambiguous, since Thomas Jefferson was not the only Jefferson male in the vicinity.
The main argument in favor is the oral tradition among Sally's descendants, that Sally had children by Thomas Jefferson.
Madison Hemings, one of her children, told the census taker in 1870 that he was the son of Thomas Jefferson; the census taker was sufficiently impressed that he made a note of that on the census form (clearly legible on the microfilm of the census record). Later, in 1873, a newspaper in Pike County, Ohio, carried an article about Madison Hemings being the son of Thomas Jefferson, evidently based on what Madison had told the author.
There is a good short treatment of this in Willard Sterne Randall's Thomas Jefferson: A Life (1993). The late Fawn Brodie, who did more than anyone else to revive interest in the Sally Hemings story, located several of her descendants who claimed to have heard of their descent from Thomas Jefferson from family tradition.
Sally's mother was a mulatto, so she was no more than one-quarter African by ancestry.