It ain’t necessarily


Remember Billy Beer? No? How about Roger Clinton’s band?


Future generations may believe that Jimmy Carter had a Brewery, and that Bill Clinton had a hit called, “Nothing Good Comes Easy.” Eh, maybe that’s not the best example.


I am heartsick at the current trend to paint Sally Hemings as the mistress of Thomas Jefferson—and for a lot of reasons. None of which has a lot to do with TJ.


People who hear me say, “No, that wasn’t proven,” may think I am defending TJ when that is not at all my goal.

But boy oh boy, am I bothered by the ignorance of facts. By the elevation of circumstantial evidence.


The first part of my distress is the misunderstanding of the word “mistress.” I don’t care whether TJ fathered every one of her children—and he certainly did not. The fact is that Hemings was a slave. She was unable to consent to a relationship with a white man. She was a slave. To elevate her being raped to a “relationship” makes me utterly sick.


Another problem is that of misunderstanding of what DNA can prove. DNA has proven that at least one of Hemings’ children was fathered by a Jefferson.

This information was gathered using DNA obtained from descendents of Thomas Jefferson’s uncle, Field Jefferson. It is a willful refusal to face facts when the DNA used in the sample was not even from Thomas. What people are refusing to face is that there is an awful lot of Jefferson DNA out there.


Let me repeat: Even the DNA used to prove Jefferson family involvement was not from Thomas Jefferson. To state that any Jefferson DNA in current Hemings descendents must be from Thomas is not only laughable, it shows a sad misunderstanding of science.


There were, as it happens, a great many Jeffersons arund when Sally Hemings was reproducing. There were also oral histories from that time saying that “Marse Randolph” frequented slave quarters.


Marse Randolph was not present during that famous stay in Paris. In fact, the only Jefferson in Paris at the time the famous movie depicts a “relationship” between Thomas and Sally was, you guessed, Thomas.

Even the most reluctant to admit TJ involvement would have to bow down when faced with Jefferson DNA in a Hemings descendent from that time period. But no.


The Woodson line (the Hemings family line from that time period has that surname) has been found to be no Jefferson of any kind.

That proves two things: TJ did not father Thomas Woodson. And someone else, some non Jefferson, DID.


If Jefferson DNA had been found in descendents from a time when only Thomas was around, that would prove pretty well that TJ had been the one.   Lack of Jefferson DNA when Hemings had a baby, when there is Jefferson DNA in at least one other Hemings line, proves that Hemings’ children had more than one father. And since she was not known to be in a marriage, this means that she was the rape victim of more than one man.


Can you see why it is so sad to come up with an imaginary “relationship” for a victim of more than one rape? Holy god, how can people DO this to her?


The Jefferson-in-Paris line not being Jefferson does not mean, of course, that TJ, conclusively, had no involvement in Hemings children.   But nothing so far has proven that of all the Jeffersons, he was the one. And DNA has also proved that of the fathers of Hemings children, he was certainly not the one from Paris.


Using Sally Hemings’ multiple rapes to make it look as though she had more agency than she had makes me utterly disgusted.  I’m not too surprised that if there is a Jefferson talk, they want to make it about Thomas, though. In my own family the legend was that we were descended from Maria Theresa of Austria.  Further scrutiny seems to say that we were descended from some minor brother of hers who raped a maid.  Way less painful to say we were related to the important one.  Who’d want to be descended from Billy Carter? I’d hitch my star  to Jimmy, if I had the chance.


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