Sally Hemings

A historian tackles one of American history’s thorniest questions

In the nearly 11 years since the publication of my book Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, I have traveled throughout the United States and overseas talking about them—and life and slavery at Monticello. Writers are, in the main, solitary creatures. Read more >>

In Virginia, a quarrel is going on about who can be allowed to lie in a family graveyard. Because the family is Thomas Jefferson’s, the outcome of the dispute is important to every American.

A Jefferson descendant on luck, ancestry, and the meaning of the DNA findings

Bernard A. Weisberger’s well-balanced look at the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings story (“In the News,” November 1997) led me to wonder anew at both the staying power and the meaning of this tale. Just what is it that is so scandalous here? Read more >>

A STUDY IN HISTORICAL SILENCES

Although he married only once, Thomas Jefferson had two families. The first was by his wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson; the second, after her death, was by her young half sister, Jefferson’s quadroon slave Sally Hemings. Read more >>

A seasoned scholar examines in detail evidence that the widowed Thomas Jefferson took as his mistress Sally Hemings, the beautiful quadroon half sister of his late wife

Did Thomas Jefferson, widowed at thirty-nine, take as a mistress Sally Hemings, the beautiful quadroon half sister of his late wife? This careful study of the known facts and of the long, bitter argument on the subject is the work of a seasoned scholar. Read more >>