The Monticello Mystery-Case Continued

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2010-02-04 22:35Z by Steven

The Monticello Mystery-Case Continued

William and Mary Quarterly
Volume LVIII, Number 4 (October 2001)
Reviews of Books

Alexander O. Boulton, Professor of History
Stevenson University (formerly Villa Julie College)

The Jefferson-Hemings Myth: An American Travesty. Edited by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. (Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, 2001. Pp. 207.)

A President in the Family: Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Thomas Woodson. By Byron W. Woodson, Sr. (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2001. Pp. xviii, 271.)

Free Some Day: The African American Families of Monticello, By Lucia Stanton. Monticello Monograph Series. (Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2000. Pp. 192.)

In October 1998 the announcement that DNA analysis identified Thomas Jefferson as the most likely father of a child by his slave Sally Hemings seemed to bring to a conclusion a historical debate that had been waging for years. Any remaining doubts about Jefferson’s paternity were apparently removed when the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the organization that owns and operates Jefferson’s historic Charlottesville, Virginia, home Monticello, issued a report soon afterward declaring that “the best evidence available suggests the strong likelihood that Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings had a relationship over time that led to the birth of one, and perhaps all, of the known children of Sally Hemings.” Several notable scholars of Jefferson quickly reversed their previous denials of the affair. A book on the subject issued by the University Press of Virginia and a Forum in the William and Mary Quarterly, both containing articles by leading historians, presented the new consensus “that virtually all professional historians will accept that Jefferson was the father of at least one of Sally Hemings’s children.”

Now, two new books have shattered the illusion that a kind of historical finality had been achieved…

Read the entire article here.

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