Thomas Jefferson & Sally Hemings
Leo and I have had a brief discussion on slavery in America in a so-called "Christian Nation". Leo mentioned the hypocricy of Thomas Jefferson with regard to slavery which brought up the subject of Sally Hemings. I think that many people are still unaware that the DNA testing which supposedly proved that Thomas Jefferson fathered Hemings' children has been discredited. What the DNA has proved is that Hemings' children were related to "a" Jefferson, but not necessarily Thomas Jefferson. I decided to bring my comments here as a blogpost.
Dave Barton has an excellent article outlining the whole sordid affair. It's too sad that in recent times Jefferson has been maligned and his reputation ruined by those whose goal it is to paint our founders as bigoted monsters who deserve no respect and whose ideals are passe. (These rumors originated in Jefferson's day by a journalist who had a vendetta against him. Barton goes into great detail in his article.) Some have also spread malicious and untrue gossip about President George Washington.
Here are a couple of excerpts from Barton's article. I think you will find the entire article well worth the read.
"Herbert Barger, the Jefferson family historian and genealogist who assisted in the original DNA study for Nature (and who strenuously objected to the conclusions published in the original story) explained:
"My study indicates to me that Thomas Jefferson was not the father of Eston or any other Hemings child. The study indicates that Randolph [Thomas' younger brother] is possibly the father of Eston and the others. Randolph, named for his maternal Randolph family, was a widower and between wives when, shortly after his wife's death, Sally became pregnant with her first child. . . . She continued having children until 1808 when Eston was born. Randolph Jefferson would marry his second wife the next year, 1809. . . . [Significantly, t]hree of Sally Hemings' children, Harriet, Beverly and Eston (the latter two not common names), were given names of the Randolph family." (emphasis in original)
The Jefferson-Hemings Scholars Commission released a 565 page report on the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings controversy. The Executive Summary of that report states:
"The question of whether Thomas Jefferson fathered one or more children by his slave Sally Hemings is an issue about which honorable people can and do disagree. After a careful review of all of the evidence, the commission agrees unanimously that the allegation is by no means proven; and we find it regrettable that public confusion about the 1998 DNA testing and other evidence has misled many people. With the exception of one member, whose views are set forth both below and in his more detailed appended dissent, our individual conclusions range from serious skepticism about the charge to a conviction that it is almost certainly false."
From what I've read, I tend to agree with Herbert Barger. He's done a most exellent job of putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I think the Hemings' children were probably fathered by a Jefferson, but not Thomas Jefferson. I agree wholeheartedly with the Jefferson-Hemings Scholars Commission that there is no conclusive evidence that has proven Thomas Jefferson to be the father of Hemings' children. As Barton's article states, the research wasn't even thorough.
My husband has read many of Jefferson's writings. He and I have discussed the slavery issue with regard to Jefferson's view. He said that Jefferson was against slavery, but he was also concerned about the economical effects that abolition would cause. He feared economic collapse and the future of America's existence as its own country. I'm sure there were other factors, but I can't remember them all because this was years ago that we discussed it.
What really boggles the mind is the fact that there are still some who claim Jesus as Saviour and Lord that would allow slavery today.