Jefferson's LOVES were 1/2 SISTERS

Started by Diane Marie Spencer on Wednesday, July 7, 2010


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7/7/2010 at 4:21 AM

Too bad no one has noted that Mrs Jefferson, was nee WAYLES as was Sally Hemmings (her mother's maiden name--but her dad was WAYLES--same father as Mrs Jefferson). Sally and Jefferson's wife were 1/2 sisters. It'd be nice if someone could Update their NAMES on the home page, to reflect this....

ie-Sally (nee Wayles) Hemmings
Mrs. Jefferson (nee Wayles)

to reflect this long-buried truth.

Private User
7/7/2010 at 4:59 AM

Sarah 'Sally' Hemings is listed as partner of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of The United States Of America, and if you take a closer look she is also listed as the half sister of Martha Skelton Jefferson.

These connections are discussed a lot and I suggest you read some more on the wikipedia page the profile is linked to now.

3/26/2013 at 7:22 PM

You are creating history based on assumptions. There is no historical proof that Jefferson had "partners" such as are listed. This is myth that has been created by individuals who have created a love relationship that has not been proven and is unlikely to have existed. I recommend that you consider accuracy.

11/7/2014 at 7:56 AM

gosh I was certain than by 2002 the DNA evidence" promotes" the possibility that Thomas Jefferson was father of Eston BUT DOES NOT prove it. Dr. Foster also states there were about 8 Jefferson males who could also be considered as father.
In any event: Speculations, stories, assumptions have no place in a "factional" Genealogy, stop using "legends" there is already too much "MUD" (Much un-documented data, ha, ha)

Private User
11/8/2014 at 2:05 PM

What the Y-DNA evidence shows is that *someone* in the same male line as T. Jefferson fathered at least one of Sally's children. Based on opportunity, he is Suspect #1 by a long shot.

It should further be noted that the story was in wide circulation, and widely believed, *before* James Callender published it as "fact". (Jefferson generally declined to comment.)

11/10/2014 at 8:57 AM

Jefferson never commented on any public gossip, but he did deny this one in a letter to a close friend. Studies have shown that there are twenty something possible fathers to Eston. Thomas is just the most famous one. The most likely one would be Thomas Jefferson's brother, Randolph. He used to "come out among black people, play the fiddle and dance half the night..." There are other possibilities- Randolph's sons and Jefferson's nephews, the Carrs (but they have been ruled out by the DNA testing). I recommend "The Jefferson-Hemings Controversy- Report of the Scholars Commission" edited by Robert F. Turner to get the full story. Barbara Boram's suggestion is a good one... too much MUD mixed into this story. In fact, there is really no evidence that Martha Jefferson and Sally Hemmings were half sisters... again, just rumors.

Private User
11/10/2014 at 11:26 PM

I think I remember that letter. It was more what we now call a "non-denial denial", in which he said the only thing he ever did wrong was to make passes at his neighbor's wife (Betsy Walker) - he phrased it with a great deal more elegance and delicacy.

Private User
11/10/2014 at 11:43 PM

As to Sally's father, if it wasn't John Wayles, what other *white man* was? By all accounts she was *very* "mixed-race", much more than half white, and could almost but not quite "pass" - some of her children could, and did.

11/11/2014 at 6:53 AM

You are back again with rumor and gossip. There is no historical evidence to support this other than stories and the fact that Sally was mixed-race. There were numerous workers and overseers who commonly mixed with the slaves. Recently, experts on the Wayles family spoke out against the common assumption that Sally and Martha were half-sisters. Is it possible... yes. Is it a proven historical fact... no. Stick to history and leave the historical romance novels to Fawn Brody and other pseudo-historians.

11/11/2014 at 7:01 AM

In fact, Thomas Woodson is listed as Thomas Jefferson's son. The DNA tests have shown that he is not a Jefferson and perhaps not even the son of Sally Hemings. If we should correct anything, that should be changed... but people want their own interpretation of history. Thomas Woodson is the only person who fit the story used by Jefferson's opponents to try to undermine him. It has been proven false.

Private User
11/11/2014 at 3:00 PM

Let's put it this way - what the Y-DNA evidence shows is a discontinuity between the tested Woodson descendant and the Jefferson line. It cannot prove *when* the discontinuity occurred - that would require additional documentation that may or may not exist.

The line of descent from Thomas Plummer of Anne Arundel isn't as famous/notorious as the Jefferson/Hemings "connection", but it is considered highly desirable because of a tenuous and somewhat dubious link back to English royalty. The American founder appears to have belonged to a rare Y-DNA haplotype, but several alleged lines of descent belong instead to the *commonest* type of all. The first three generations (founder, son - he had only one - and grandsons) are all solidly documented, so the discontinuities occurred after that.

One documented line, and another that declined to publicize its documentation, matched the rare haplotype exactly - as did a third that can't show documentation that far back. So there *are* genuine male-line descendants.

One of the discontinuities probably happened in the fourth or fifth generation, because the fifth-generation descendant had two consecutive wives, and descendants of sons by each wife showed identical MISmatches. That is, they were clearly *his* descendants - and clearly NOT Thomas Plummer's. The Y-DNA evidence could not pinpoint it that precisely - only the paper trail could.

Thomas Woodson was the "only" person who matched the *specific* claim that the Jefferson-Hemings "affair" began *in France*. The general claim that there was such an affair has considerably more support than that.

Frankly, the most telling point is that Jefferson was on the scene nine months before each time Sally had another child - and she never conceived one when he wasn't there.

No one else, not even little brother Randolph (who is Suspect #2), has been placed in proximity so consistently. (And for that matter no one *ever* fingered Randolph as a suspect at all before the Y-DNA evidence ruled out the Carrs - who, as Jefferson's *sister's* sons, could not possibly have shared his Y-DNA, and didn't. And no, they don't match the Woodson line either.)

If *you* don't want to believe it, *you* don't have to - but disbelief is not the same thing as disproof.

11/11/2014 at 4:29 PM

And believe is not the same thing as proof. Jefferson's proximity to his slaves and his relatives became a time for much activity at Monticello. When he wasn't there, they literally closed down the house. People came to visit for weeks or longer at a time. He brother, Randolph, the most likely father of Eston, perhaps fathered other children... perhaps to Sally Hemings. Evidence supports that- even eye-witness accounts have someone important coming out of Sally Hemings home... and it wasn't Thomas. You can disconnect all you want- Thomas Woodson is not a Jefferson, and the myth of Paris is totally discounted if you look at the facts and lack of them. Its fun to bring down a larger than life figure... its great to make him seem more human... and he was. Thomas Jefferson had many flaws and weaknesses- Sally Hemings was not one. Read the report that I mentioned in a previous email and don't assume Jefferson's guilt. You'll see that the slanted info that you have been fed by Jefferson haters and the media are full of holes.

Private User
11/11/2014 at 5:46 PM

Oh please - Jefferson "haters"? :-D :-D :-D
I don't want to say what you're starting to sound like....

Randolph Jefferson lived twenty miles away from Monticello - a good day's journey back then. It's not as though he could just casually drop in and out at will. He'd have to plan his visits and they'd have to be expecting him. There are one or two records of his visiting when Jefferson was absent - but these occasions were curiously NOT followed by Sally Hemings having children. He can't be excluded with certainty, but neither can he be promoted to Suspect #1 without a lot more documentation.

Mr Bacon (I presume that's your "eyewitness") inflated the length of time he was actually in residence at Monticello - there is no record of his being there prior to 1806. The clergyman he was talking to chose to expunge the name of the person he claimed to have seen leaving Sally's house, so we don't know if said person was "important" or not. Nor can he give anything beyond "hearsay" evidence as to the paternity of the older Hemings children. The interview took place in the 1860s - decades later - and we all know that memory can play tricks on us over time.

Thomas Woodson's *descendants* are not Jeffersons. The jury is out on Woodson himself, unless someone can obtain and test some DNA from Woodson. (Somebody apparently DID obtain DNA from Thomas Plummer - a preserved lock of hair, perhaps? - because his haplotype is listed as *confirmed*. He was type G, for what it's worth.)

Even excluding Woodson, there are six other children to account for. Every one of them was conceived approximately nine months after Jefferson was known to have been in residence at Monticello, and no children made their appearance when he was absent - even when other family members, e.g. Randolph, were visiting.

We are genealogists, not politicians, nor yet hagiographers. I would rate it as "more likely than not" that Jefferson was the only father of all Sally Hemings' children.

Rephrasing a previous question: if Randolph Jefferson was such a prime suspect, why is it that no one *ever* named him until very recently? Why is it that blame was thrown instead on the - now known to be totally excluded - Carr nephews? Why is it that he has been brought forward *only after* Y-DNA evidence excluded the Carrs and pointed directly at Jefferson's own male line?

As far as I can tell, the only thing Randolph Jefferson has going for him in this context is that he is Not Thomas Jefferson.

11/12/2014 at 12:52 PM

And that's why Randolph was not targeted. Get the big fish and ignore the little ones. Who cared if Randolph had slave children.
Just a couple of quick points- one of her children was born when he and she was likely away from Monticello. Records are scant, and it is hard to say for sure exactly when things happened. Jefferson's brother, not a "brain surgeon" by any means, relied on Jefferson for advice and money... which Jefferson wasn't good at handling, but was generous with. Randolph danced and drank with the slaves until all hours of the night... his first wife died... Sally Hemings started having babies... he remarried... babies stopped. By the way, they stopped when Thomas retired to Monticello. Since he was "old" by the standards of the day when he had Eston, why not have a few more? Because they weren't his children.
And you said:
"We are genealogists, not politicians, nor yet hagiographers. I would rate it as "more likely than not" that Jefferson was the only father of all Sally Hemings' children."
The only father? Even the Federalists said that Sally Hemings was a woman of low character. Why one father? She might have had six! But that would take away from the myth that Jefferson lived a life as a hypocrite - that's what started all this. Callendar and others were smearing Jefferson in the Federalist press to ruin him politically. In fact, most of the Federalists did not believe the accusations. Why did the issues and the books pop up recently? Bill Clinton and his personal/public actions. They had to pull down other presidents to support him. Its all political or people wouldn't make such a big deal out of it. So what if he slept with a slave? Wasn't that common? Didn't all of the morally lost slave owners abuse their slaves? Fawn Brodie tried to make it into a love story ... and I even bought it until I studied it. Nice romance story- historical hogwash. Read the other side... I've read both... read "The Jefferson-Hemings Controversy- Report of the Scholars Commission" edited by Robert F. Turner, a Jefferson scholar. It is published by the Carolina Academic Press. It will answer all your points and explain why it is highly improbable- not impossible but unlikely- that Jefferson did what he is accused of doing. As genealogists, we should not include speculation and innuendo as historical fact. List it as a possibility, but not as fact. If you read the Commission's report, you well may end up agreeing with me.

Private User
11/12/2014 at 2:14 PM

I think we will have to agree to disagree - I have also read both sides. Several sides, actually, and going back several years.

What you are now doing is called "slut-shaming" - assuming and claiming the worst about a woman's character in order to excuse (actual, suspected, or believed) bad behavior by a man. It's especially common when the man is a Respected Member of the Establishment.

Face facts: men in positions of power, authority, and wealth are not only not immune from sexual temptations - they are *more* likely to give way to them, because they know there will probably be no consequences. It's not accidental that a lot of kings have had a lot of bastards.

And not just kings...the list of intellectuals, scholars, artists, composers, etc. "behaving badly" is far longer than the list of those who don't.

The genes don't care. Insofar as they can be said to have a "purpose", it is to propagate from one generation to the next - which provides genealogists with something to do with their time. Genes that don't propagate are, from a genealogist's point of view, wasted.

Private User
11/12/2014 at 2:48 PM

Michael, could you be a little clearer, please? I think I might possibly be accused of misANDry for pointing out that men are men.

It's kind of funny-sad, actually. When it's the Duke of Normandy developing a lech for a pretty merchant-class girl and getting the next King of England on her, we're cool with it. But when it's one of our own Sacred Bulls, and *especially* when the so-called "color line" is involved, oh how the shrieks of denial resound to high heaven! :-P

Probably a good thing George Washington was sterile (even though that meant his genes were wasted): there's no real way of knowing what he did or didn't get up to, or with whom. (Martha of course excepted - and it's her proven fertility with her first husband that puts the ball squarely in George's court.)

11/12/2014 at 7:34 PM

You really dislike our founders. You can't imagine men of character who would act on principle. That's sad. Read the book for the facts, not for any side.

11/12/2014 at 9:14 PM

This discussion strikes me as odd. My mother went to school with Dr. Foster's wife and so I followed the story with interest.

In my opinion, Maven's initial statement is valid: "What the Y-DNA evidence shows is that *someone* in the same male line as T. Jefferson fathered at least one of Sally's children. Based on opportunity, he is Suspect #1 by a long shot."

"It should further be noted that the story was in wide circulation, and widely believed, *before* James Callender published it as "fact". (Jefferson generally declined to comment.)"

I find this discussion odd because it in no way denigrates Thomas Jefferson, who was a great man and President, to have had a relationships with Sally Hemmings, if he in fact did. As Maven also points out, there have been unsanctioned and secret liaisons and children born out of them throughout history.

I can't imagine why you would think anyone hates the founders to accept this hypothesis which has quite a lot of real evidence behind it.

And yes, it could have been another Jefferson male although the circumstances most point to Thomas Jefferson. And that is not a crime nor is it a lack of principle.

<private> McCann
11/12/2014 at 9:26 PM

I agree with Hatte. Sorry maven.. I Just took issue with you bringing this up I don't like the objectifying terms but your right i am guility as charged on many things lol.. i just don't like the labeling...

Private User
11/13/2014 at 7:17 AM

Hatte, I can imagine quite well why someone would think that, but I don't think I'll go there (this time).

Looks like politics reared its ugly head, too, with the snide remarks about Bill Clinton. This is not supposed to be a political site - there are plenty of those elsewhere - so can we please drop it?

11/13/2014 at 7:31 AM

I propose to end a useless discussion into believes and disbelieves and stick to known facts only. I also propose to all participants if you have not already to read "Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, History, Memory and Civic Culture" ed. by Jan Lewis,Peter S. Onuf (online from Google books) which gives much insight on interracial sex, Jefferson's "affair" (or at least pursuit of Paris married lady Maria Cosway in 1788) , she is another examples of "not" being a "partner" .
It was not uncommon for white children to have mulatto half siblings.
How about if we state "likely father" or "possible father"?

<private> McCann
11/13/2014 at 9:58 AM

Private User I want to apolgize for last night I was in a not so polite way telling you and others off when i should have just politely either ignored it or worded it better then i did.. and I perfer the term as barbera eluded to possible or likely father rather then s*** shaming or w*** ing or all the other derogotry offensive stuff that comes up in this kind of situlation.. I have had it happen in my own family which I do not bring up because it angers them.. durring the civil war.. white slave owner falling for slave and getting out the slave bussiness fleeing state lines with her for her freedom etc etc

<private> McCann
11/13/2014 at 10:03 AM

and appolgizes to Mike Stangel for my profantiy.

Private User
11/13/2014 at 1:29 PM

Apology accepted, Michael, though I think you took offense a little too easily and at the wrong person.

At this point all we have to work with are a handful of indicative but not conclusive facts, and a variety of greater or lesser probabilities.

With regard to the title of this discussion, it is much more likely than not that Sally Hemings (as well as five of her siblings) was fathered by John Wayles (who had already buried three wives, and on the face of that evidence alone was not a man suited to celibacy). The probability was generally accepted - but just not talked about in polite society, and so the illusion of propriety (then as now more important than the real thing) was preserved.

1/10/2015 at 8:53 PM

Based on what? Give me evidence and I'll be happy to agree with you. Just because someone made up a tree and includes someone does not make it accurate, correct or historical. These connections are based on rumors and stories. Think of all the gossip that small minded people spew. Try reading solid historical research and not Wiki notes.

Private User
1/10/2015 at 11:58 PM

Denial is not just a river in Africa.

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