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tv   Thomas Jefferson and the Hemings Family  CSPAN  May 13, 2017 12:00pm-1:11pm EDT

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of the 35th president. >> he was a decorated combat veteran. he believed in a strong military. he had a much broader conception about what american identity was. >> he reached out across the aisle. he launched the peace accord in corps in 1961. >> for a complete schedule, go to historian annette gordon reed talks about thomas jefferson and the enslaved hemmings family, who lived and worked on his monticello, virginia, plantation. she discusses sally hemming who she argues had six children by jefferson. the university of mary washington in fredericksburg, virginia, hosted this event, as
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part of their great lives lecture series. [applause] [clears throat] >> wow. it is perhaps appropriate that on thomas jefferson's birthday, we bring to you one of our most prestigious speakers. one of jefferson's cleverest biographers. professor annette gordon reed is the one who definitively cracked the case, as our speaker on tuesday might have said, on one of american history's most complex and now expunged -- until now, expunged stories, which is the relationship between the jeffersons and the hemmings. professor gordon reed is the charles morin professor of american legal history, and a professor of history arts and science at harvard university.
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she has a jaw dropping list of honors, i will read you a few. fellowship from the dorothy and lose the common center for scholars and writers at the new york public library, a guggenheim fellowship, a macarthur fellowship, the national humanities medal, and the woman of power and influence award from the national organization for women in new york city. she has written extensively on both seen and unseen americans, including a biography of andrew johnson, and her most recent book in paperback today is, most blessed of the patriarchs, thomas jefferson, and the empire of the imagination. when it comes to jefferson, as i said earlier, we are fortunate to have dr. gordon reed here. no one knows the public and private jefferson quite as well as she does. the relationship between our third president and his own slave is one she first exported -- first explored in 1997. that's thomas jefferson and sally hemming, an american controversy. she came to the subject again more than a decade later with her 2009 book the hemmings of
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monticello and american family, which won both the natural book award and the pulitzer prize for history. it's this book and subject that bring us together tonight. it is an important topic, and for some, uncomfortable topic, to be sure. as historian joseph ellis said quote, thomas jefferson is described as a slave -- described his slaves of monticello as, my family. gordon returned that description seriously. surely more than jefferson ever intended. it's not a pretty story, but it's poignant beyond belief. it is indeed -- and is touchingly told. those of us who know her and her work would expect nothing less. ladies and gentlemen, please wonderful annette gordon reed. [applause] >> thank you very much.
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it is wonderful to be here. i was in charlottesville earlier today for the presentation of the thomas jefferson medal. one of my dear friends, letter -- loretta lynch, the former attorney general received a for i stopped in charlottesville -- then i got in the car and came here to be with you today. i'm very happy to be here on a beautiful, spring day. i've been able to enjoy the hospitality of people here and the beautiful campus. this is interesting for me. i am in the middle of a book to ur with my co-author, who helped me write thomas jefferson and the empire of the imagination.
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we have been going together so flying solo is interesting. i was used to doing it before but i've gotten used to having him here. tonight is a hemmings story. i'm glad to talk to you about this. my first book, thomas jefferson and sally hemmings, an american controversy, i thought was about historians, the way people wrote history. particularly the way historians had handled whether or not thomas jefferson had children with an enslaved woman, sally hemmings, who lived on his plantation, monticello. i was concerned about the practice related to the stories of the white families, upper-class people. dismissing the story of enslaved people talked about their life in slavery, which is something we know now from dna
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testing that population geneticists have done across the country of african-americans that shows the kind of mixing that was going on at monticello, was going on across the south. this was not something that was rare. it was not something that people talked about in their letters. but we could see it visibly in the faces and bodies and contour, the hair of african americans all over the united states. i was concerned about the way of dismissing the story of african-americans, crediting the story of the legal family. after my book came out in 1997, and dna testing followed in 1998 that corroborated what i was suggesting in my first book, it occurred to me that one of the reasons that it was easy to dismiss the story of the
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hemmings family was because people didn't know anything about the hemmings family other than that there was a scandal. they knew the name of sally hemmings. they may have known the name james hemmings, her brother. i was thinking, if i could tell their story in a way that made people feel that they had a stake in them, then it might give people pause in the future about dismissing the story of enslaved people. i live in manhattan. i live partly in manhattan, partly cambridge, but when i am in manhattan, it's a big, crowded city, anonymous. when you meet somebody -- if i meet somebody in the neighborhood, i begin to see them after that. when you are introduced to
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someone, you walked past them before, but you didn't know them. once you know them, you notice their children, when you don't see them, when you expect to see them. they become a part of you in a way. that's what i wanted to do with the hemmings family, to give people a stake in this family. this is an interesting time to be thinking about this. you may have seen an article in the washington post not long ago that talked about the fact that monticello now is redoing the rooms where they think sally hemmings may have lived. if you have been to monticello, you know -- or any public museum, it has to pick a particular moment in history to show. they can't show the entire range of 50 years worth of development of monticello. this is an area where they think sally hemmings lived. the story appeared in the washington post, as i said. it got a lot of attention.
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i think the tour that they will be doing will get a lot of attention. she's there, but not really there. the idea of actually having the room, having it part of a tour, and interpreting that, will probably cause a lot of talk, controversy talk. that's what you want. the museum is supposed to be an educational experience. you have to have talk, and controversy and discussion to do it. that's what you want. but i thought -- i was thinking about writing this book, i wanted to do something other than focus on sally hemmings. i was adamant that i would not talk that much about her, which is crazy. she is the pivotal part of the story. we know the family because of the scandal.
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the story about thomas jefferson and sally hemmings. it was unrealistic for me to think -- i wasn't going to leave her out, but i wanted to the de-emphasize her. then i realized that didn't make any sense. i had it to be realistic about this. i had to understand the pivotal role that she played in her family, try to see the hemmings as just not her, but seeing her as part of a web of relationships that made this story of monticello, how it made sense. thomas jefferson and sally hemmings don't make sense just as the two people. they're part of, as i said, a web of relationships, his relationship with her brother, her mother, her sisters. it flows together if you think about it. when i was working on my first book, i was puzzled by sally hemmings. i was doing my own version of
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a book tour then. people would always ask me about her and say, she was in paris with jefferson and his daughters and her brother. at one point, when he is about to come home, the story is told, she did not want to return with him. she did not want to be re-enslaved, and she did not want her children to be enslaved. the question -- jefferson according to madison hemmings' story promised her, if she came back home with him, she would have a good life at monticello, and her children would be freed at 21. in france there was a possibility of becoming a free person. every person who filed a petition for freedom in paris at this time had a petition granted. so there was a good chance she and her brother could have remained in paris as free people. it would have been difficult.
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but people who ran away through swamps and all kinds of hardships in the united states had a difficult time when they ran away. the fact that it was difficult did not mean it would have been impossible or that she was crazy to think that this was something that she could do. i was puzzled. people always ask me when i went around to give talks, why did she come back? why would she come back to the united states when she had a chance to be a free person? why would she not try to get away from the jefferson family? people had ambivalent feelings about her. i have to admit, i had ambivalent feelings about her as well. while i was working on the first book -- and because i was thinking mainly about historians and what they had written. it wasn't focusing as much on the hemmings family story. i was writing about this controversy.
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the bookcided to write about the hemmings as a family, and to begin to flesh of the individuals, their particular role in the family, how they saw themselves, how she saw herself apparently within this web of relationships, it began to make sense to me. she began to make sense to me. a 16-year-old girl who has a chance to be a free person but would be in a foreign country. we think her brother james, who was about seven years older than she, would've been there for for support as well. but she would've left the family behind, mother, sisters. if you think about the way women are today, and even were then, certainly socialized to think about family, responsibilities to family, it makes sense to me.
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it made much more sense to me why she would think that she should come back to the united states. said,ther thing that is se she implicitly trusted jefferson. that was the one even more so , than not coming back, that was the one that gave me pause. the question would be, why would you do that? i would construct him as her enemy and see him that way for my position, writing in 1996, 1997, when i was working on this book. my first book -- looking at sally hemmings, judging her, implicitly trusting him. that seemed a dubious proposition to me. but then, working as the hemmings of monticello, and
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seeing the family as a whole, thinking about them as a whole, learning about how jefferson dealt with them and how they dealt with him, learning how he took this family and made them, in some ways, different than other enslaved people. they were not free. they were still enslaved, but he treated differently from other people. looking back as a historian, i can say that -- all of those perks, those things that you think are favors or whatever, you're still enslaved. they knew that. if you imagine yourself in that circumstance, how difficult it would be or how it could affect you if someone was treating you in a different way, was telling you that you are different than those other people who have the same legal status as you but are being treated very differently, it might affect the way you feel. one of the things about being a
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scholar of slavery, and you are looking at the situation, it is so hard to imagine being in that position. but you have to remember as well, you are dealing with people who are human beings. you are dealing with human beings who are strong in some ways, and who are weak in other ways. every kind of personality that exists among whites during that time or now, or whatever, existed within the enslaved community. the system of slavery was the overlay of their lives. they were individuals with their own personalities, their own quirks, strengths, weaknesses that played out within the context of this system. so once i began to think about the hemmings family as a group, understanding how jefferson handled them how in a way -- i
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don't want to use the word co-opt because that -- judgmental it's easy for me from , the safety of now to talk about it -- or criticize people for the ways they try to make the best deals they can for their lives in this oppressive system. i have the luxury of making that kind of judgment, but i don't want to do it because it's not fair. the thing that i was trying to do was to think about this beings withinn the context of this particular system. i had to start at the beginning. talking about the nature, elizabeth hemmings, who was the daughter of an englishman, a nd a woman who was african. she may have actually been from africa, or her parents could have been african and she was born in virginia.
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elizabeth is therefore mixed race. she was owned by family. an old family in virginia. a man named john wales married to the eps family, had a daughter with martha epps, who died a couple of weeks after her daughter was born. he married twice after that. he lost those two wives, and at some point, took elizabeth hemmings as a concubine. madison hemmings was a man who gave his recollections about his in 1873.onticello he said he was the son of thomas jefferson and sally hemmings. he's telling the story of his family and grandmother. she became the concubine of john wales and had six children by him. the youngest of those children was sarah. sarah was sally, the nickname at
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sally was given to her. john wales has these six children, his daughter was martha epps who was also named -- that's one of the tough names about this book, they are all named martha and mary. [laughter] this family tree that i have to keep consulting to figure who was who in here. but martha grows up and mary ries thomas jefferson. when the john wales dies, the hemmings family and 135 other come under the ownership of martha and thomas jefferson. as the husband, the blackstone quote, there's marriage -- the
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husband and wife become one, though one is him, the man. he is in control of this particular -- they bring the hemmings children to monticello and install the women as a favored house servants of martha. the boys become servants to jefferson. jefferson had a man named jupiter, we believe his last name was evidence who had -- had beenevans who with him from the time he was a little boy. jefferson moved him -- makes sally hemmings oldest wales brother. his manservant. robert is 12 at the time. you have to figure up what kind of manservant he could've been. at age 12 that is. he travels with jefferson, he is with jefferson in philadelphia, when he writes declaration of independence -- you can sense
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his family melding together. not just jefferson and his wife martha, but martha's enslaved half siblings. we don't know much about martha wales jefferson, the letters between jefferson and his wife were destroyed. we think he destroyed them. even as an older man he was writing people letters asking if they had any of her letters so they could take them and destroy them. this was not uncommon among married couples, they didn't think people should know about the intimacies of their relationship. we don't know that much about her. it's an interesting thing that she brought her brothers and sisters to live with her at monticello. had them in her life on a daily basis. a lot of times in a slave society when the master or his sons or whatever, had children with enslaved women, the women of the household were pretty angry about that. sometimes they make themselves
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m sell the family members. they put them away somewhere. it's interesting that she brought them with her and put them in the house. she's around these women. elizabeth as well. she was not adverse to having them around. when she dies in 1782, they are around her death bed with her legal sisters, white sisters, sister-in-law, and jefferson. they are the ones who tell the story about martha asking thomas jefferson not to remarry. she says, their story was that she did not want -- she said that she did not want another woman over her children. it wasn't like, i want thomas, i want you even in death. she may have had some difficulty with her stepmothers.
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and she, according to this story, did not want her children to have those problems. he promised that he would not marry again. and he never did. she died when he is 39 years old. he dies when he is 83, and he never remarried. after her death, jefferson is shattered. he decides to take a mission to paris that had been offered to him. he takes jane hemmings, another person in the story, another or person in the family, most people who read the book -- many people who read the books say he is the favorite member of the family. jefferson takes him to paris to learn how to become a chef. jefferson loves french cooking. he wanted a french chef. james was going to fit the bill. he goes to paris with james and
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his eldest daughter, martha, another martha. they are there, just the three of them for a few years that are there, until jefferson has, makes the request that a younger daughter he has left behind be brought to him in paris. he asks that his daughter, mary, be accompanied by -- he said, a careful negro woman such as isabel. he is talking about isabel hearn, who was 28 years old. instead, everson's sister-in-law, who is -- in this convoluted story, was actually sally hemmings half sister, because she was jefferson's wife 's sister. she is the aunt of the girl she is taking care of. instead, they send a sally hemmings who is 14 at this time,
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and she is the guardian, or the companion of a nine-year-old girl. she is supposed to be the babysitter for this nine-year-old girl. they arrive in london. abigail adams who is there to greet them is aghast. she basically says, you have a kid looking after another kid. she's very upset about this. they go on to paris. at some point, and we don't know when, thomas jefferson and sally hemmings began -- here's the difficulty. the washington post article, one of the things that got people really, really, really upset was that they used the word relationship. because what are we describing here? a situation where a person is enslaved and, presumably, can't say no -- not presumably, actually, cannot refuse consent. do you call that a relationship? we can talk about it afterwards when you ask me questions.
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it's difficult to know how to describe it. we are not talking about a situation where they had sex and had a kid and that's it. what we are talking about is a situation that starts at some point in the end of the 1780's and ends when he dies in 1826. we are talking about 38 years of whatever this is. how do you discuss this? how do you handle this particular question? i try to handle it in the book -- that's why the book is so long. [laughter] there is no easy answer. to me, there's no easy answer. there are people who take the position that any sex between a master and enslaved woman is rape, because we don't know that the woman could refuse consent.
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then you have the situation of sally hemmings's older sister, not a wales sister. sally hemmings had half-brothers and half-sisters as well. she is -- and lives with a man on main street in charlottesville when jefferson is away in france. when jefferson comes back, she asks to be sold to this man, who becomes her legal owner. they live in this house. they have children. when he dies, he leaves them property. he frees his children. he never frees the woman. presumably she has control over the house. that's an interesting question. how does an enslaved person, how is she given control over the house. book and onon the the ground. as long as community acts like she is the owner, as long as the
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community acts as if she is -- they refer to her in later years as his common-law wife. of course she couldn't have been because she couldn't have been his legal wife. she was enslaved. but what do you say about that situation? i look at sally's, mary's situation, and i also talk about a woman named celia who is from missouri. whowas an enslaved woman killed her master after years of sexual abuse. he comes to the house to have sex with her, and she refuses. she had him over the head. kills him. takes his body, burns it up in her fireplace. the next morning asks his grandson, she says i have a lot of ashes -- [laughter] in my fireplace, would you help me clean it out?
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unbeknownst to him, he's throwing his grandfathers ashes in the back of the woods. celia, of course, gets in trouble. she is tried for this and strangely enough, many of the white people in the community were sympathetic to her. they broke her out of jail. they know about the way he had been abusing her. she is brought back and eventually executed. but you look at these three situations. between a difference cellmate to this person so i can ,ive with him and have children and i will hit you over the head and kill you and burn you up in a fire? are the qualities of those two women's lives exactly the same? it strikes me that they are not. i could make a statement about
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slavery, writes that happens to think most enslaved women. the most common situation was than mary, obviously. but in writing about mary, i between those two situations. but what about sally hemmings? a she closer to celia or mary? -- is she closer to celia or mary? we want have an answer to that, because jefferson didn't read about this. unlike celia, whose story gets told because she enters the legal world, people describing what happens, we don't know what sally hemmings felt about this. all that we know -- all the action we know that she took was she decided to come back with them. and she did. but once she gets her, she is completely -- that is to say virginia, -- she is completely under his control. if at some point she didn't want
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to, you know if her job was to , take care of his room and his wardrobe, essentially asked to go and look after the children, that basic if she wants to have anything to do with him, she couldn't say no. people have pointed out to me that jefferson's wife couldn't have said no, either, once they got married because there was no such thing as marital rape, rules against marital rape until well into the 20th century. but he could not sell his wife. anti-could have sold sally hemings. sold sallyould have hemings. he could've sold her children or, their children. but he didn't do that. the children left monticello as free people. but how do you handle those kinds of things? it's a subject now that i have a feeling monticello will be
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dealing with quite a bit. decided to dohave the room, and have people there don't actually talking about this. book,cond part of the after i talk about talking about -- after i talk about elizabeth hemmings and setting things up, the second section of the book is about -- the beginnings of this connection, relationship on -- what we will call it with jefferson. the third part of the book really tries to do what i said i was originally going to do, was to branch out a talk about other members of the hemmings family. if you have been to monticello, you know the story of john emmings. john hemmings was the master carpenter at monticello. he is responsible for some of the furniture there that is on display, even now. he did the floors. jefferson.roof for
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he was also a surrogate father to jefferson's son beverly , madison eston hemmings. they were put under the tutelage of john hemmings to learn how to become carpenters. , i will nothings i wasn'tvered, but really thinking about the story of the hemingses in the same way. jefferson had a retreat and the forest -- retreat in the forest. when he retired, it seems like the world descended on him and monticello and stayed for weeks at a time.. he left. i'm leaving it to you. he would go to popular forest and stay for long periods of
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time. there were a series of letters where he writes to his overseers saying -- i am coming to popular forest, i will be arriving on such and such date. i am bringing johnny hemmings and his two assistance, or johnny hemmings and his apprentices. his apprentices and assistance are either -- beverly learned harris, beverly madison and eston. thes coming with -- he said rest of the carpenters will come another day. he is traveling with these boys to go out to popular forest and spending large amounts of time. if you've never been, it's a big place. he is around some quite a bit. i hadn't really thought about it that much. because, you know, you think of
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madison-hemmings and his recollection says -- she was not in the habit of showing the impartiality of fatherly affection. so, you read that and you sort of think that he is distant. i thought of a physical distant, but these letters suggest that they are together quite a bit. these young men would have known jefferson very well because they spent a good amount of time with him and his retirement. so, that kind of gave me a different window, too, and to jefferson and the lives of the hemmings family and how these connections actually come in some ways, benefited other members of the family, the collateral members of the family. there is a story about another jane hemmings, not the gets beatemmings who
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by jefferson's overseer, and he runs away to richmond. jefferson send somebody to find him. him, he tellsnds him to come back. and jamie says -- i am not coming back unless you promised me that i can work with john hemmings. that i don't have to go back and work under the overseer who had beat me. it jefferson's artisans were not under the control of the overseer. they answered to jefferson, not the overseer. jefferson says, ok. you come back, you can work with john hemmings. and then jamie decides, he doesn't want to come back at all. and he just doesn't come back. and jefferson takes him off the slave role. he essentially lets him go. james hemmings, this jamie is
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sally hemmings's nephew. it is his wife's half nephew. he is john wales's grandson, that connection says something. james hemmings -- was james hubbard, who was another enslaved man and monticello who ran away and jefferson hadn't , brought back -- and kept running away and jefferson didn't come back, they bring them back, and jefferson hipped.y had him w he was whipped and sold because he kept running away. so the difference between james hubbard, who has no family connection to jefferson, and james hemmings, who has all of these family connections, and when he runs away he told jefferson, i'm not coming back -- and jefferson says, i'm not coming back unless -- he issues, basically, a condition. jefferson abides by it.
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goes along with it. then when he runs away, jefferson just lets him go. and he appears and other records -- jefferson is paying him later on the gets a mention minutes from him, or some scientific instruments for him from richmond. he is in contact with the family, but he is off the slave role. that can only happen because of a family connection. jefferson wouldn't except that from another enslaved person. so, this connection, when i am thinking about it when looking at my first book, just seemed, what was the purpose of the? why would she come back? what purpose would it serve to do that? you kind of wonder if there was not some sense that that was the best deal that she was able to get in life, and she would be with her family.
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not necessarily coming back for him, but coming back to the united states as a way of being with family, and in some ways, having a connection that protected her family in some fashion. we will never know the answer to this because we don't have sally hemings's letters. but looking at the family and what happened to them, there is a story about this. there is a way of eating about this that i did not really -- there is a way of thinking about it didn'ti did not -- make as much sense to me when i was thinking about it the first time. the story ends not very well. jefferson dies bankrupt in 1826. he has to sell -- things are sold to pay the debt. enslaved people are sold. some of them are bought back. it is a very, very murky
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situation. but some members of the hemmings family end up on the auction block. i and -- i end the story of the hemmings come and her children, but talking about a man named .eter fossett at the time, he is a little boy and he is sold from his family. it takes many years before they are reunited. peter fossett ends up in ohio as prominent and is a caterer. and he does it reunited with his family after many, many years. he is able to buy his freedom. i end with that story because it shows you the real, tenuous nature of this notion of privilege. peter fossett was the grandson of mary hemmings, the person living on main street with her
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-- with thomas bell, the white man. he described his life as a little boy as privileged. but the real shock to him was when he was sold, when the thing that slavery was about came brutally to his reality. profit, property, people as property who can be bought and that and that was a thing many members of the hemmings family, despite whatever privilege sally hemings and her children might have had, they all lived with the spector for the possibility that that could happen because the law construed them as property. and jefferson construed them as property. that is the difficulty that we have in picking about him in relation to this family, and thinking about jefferson as a person. we could talk about that in the
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question and answer period -- what you make of the situation? the hemmings says are looked at are looked atese as privileged members among people who lived on the mountain of enslaved people. but they were enslaved, couldn't leave, despite their talent, their capabilities -- despite their capabilities they were still legal property. however jefferson traded them, however better he treated them, that was the reality that shake their lives -- that shaped their lives. that is the message i got most forcefully and speaking about this family and writing about them, spending so much time with them. to think about the precarious teacher of their lives, even under power of a person who thought of himself as benevolent. with that, i'm finished. [laughter] [applause]
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annette: the question and answer period is always the best one, so -- >> and we have plenty of time. it is difficult for me to stand. >> you mentioned that sally was 14 when she joined jefferson and paris. how old was jefferson? annette: jefferson was 30 years old -- jefferson was 30 years old or then she, so 44. age quite an that's one thing -- i did a talk before, to middle school students. people came to ask me to come to talk to him about it. i said, how my going to do this? talking to middle school student? of course, i shouldn't have worried because i got there, and people said, -- kids said, i
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don't want know why they're calling this an affair. an affair is when you're having sex with somebody other than your husband or wife. i went, yeah, that is right. they're quite knowledgeable people. [laughter] annette: then they said, what is the big deal here? if he is her master, he can do it he wants. i said yes, that's right. that's true. they said, why do people not see that? i said, they have difficulty with it because they do not like the idea of jefferson doing this. and they said, what are the problems? i mentioned, they were not the same race so that other people. , that didn't get to them. and then one young girl raised her hand and said, how old was she? i said, she had her first baby when she was 17. she was probably about 16 years old -- the only evidence of the beginning of sexual activities, she had a baby when she was 17.
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when i mentioned she would have been about 16 years old, they went oh. , [laughter] annette: they began to look at how old they were, and counted up, and think about it. the racial thing really didn't get them. the power story really didn't get to them. it was the age thing that gave them pause. but the age of consent in virginia during that time period was 12. no, it was 10 actually, then it 1820.ised to 12 in girl would not have been thought of the wave -- the way we think of a 15-year-old girl. that is a baby. we have prolonged childhood -- now it's 35. [laughter] annette: i don't know. you know, whatever.
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it is sort of gone on, dragging this out for quite a bit. still, i'm writing this at the time -- i had a teenage daughter. i'm like, pulling my hair out just thinking about this. but that's not how they would've thought about this. >> do you have some sense -- you brought to light something i was totally unaware of -- this age aspect. so, is there a sense that jefferson light surrounding himself with that stage of the site with people so young as a way to be a father figure? or for some other reason, to have young people around him that he could easily converse with, or talk to, or have
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interplay with? annette: i think robert is brought in because -- again, , the one ofvelistic the novelist coming -- the wannabe novelist coming out. he made broke his man-certainty -- servant is a show of solidarity with his wife. robert and james -- we don't know sally -- robert and james could read and write. and they could evidently read and write as young people. i wonder who taught them how to read and write? you know, it is possible that martha could have done that. i think -- i could see the hand of martha in this. this is totally speculative. but this in a historical novel, i don't put this -- we are proving this. i think robert is attached to
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jefferson because he is married -- because he married robert's sister. i think it is really important to keep that in mind, these relationships. other historians would read about the hemmings is in the past, and would not -- they would say james, or slave -- they might use their name or not. but i think it is important to keep that relationship in mind. ,obert is jefferson's wife half-brother. for him totter way get education, to see the world, to see other things than to behave that with jefferson? -- i don't know that think he is picking him because he is young. i think he is picking him because of his connection to his wife. who, evidently, one of his half siblings and her household.
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and to give out good favors to those particular people as opposed to others. >> yes, it seems to me that you thattacitly assumed jefferson is the father of her children, but you never say it. hasas i understand it, he brothers, or a brother who possibly -- i'm not sure about dna. does dna say thomas jefferson or someone else? i said: that is why beginning supported what i said. it is not a paternity test. the reason i believe it's jefferson, not just the dna -- it's other information that i compiled in my first book. and it is the totality of the circumstances. and the brother has no written connection to sally hemings. you can't -- that is not historical to say, you know, if you have a situation were
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jefferson's friends are writing about him in their diary, people who visit monticello are writing about them and their letters -- the names of the children are up on them for his best friends and favorite relatives. it is the kind of thing that eight genealogist would do. you look at the totality of the circumstances, then you put the dna on it. the family basically -- the jefferson family basically made up a story about who was the father of the children. and the dna killed that. if they would have known that if it was jefferson's brother, they would have known that and they would have picked him. but they did not know that there would come a day when you could differentiate between maternal relatives and paternal relatives. they picked the wrong relatives. and that is what the dna says. so, no. the dna test is not a paternity test. dna him another
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information, that has been compiled. that is what historians do. you compile information. conclusion, and that is the foundation's conclusion at monticello, and that is the story that they tell now. >> i want to thank you. -- i want to thank you for your scholarship. you have raised our mind's understanding. [inaudible] about what? [inaudible] annette: the president of the oh, university of virginia ought to be able to quote jefferson. once appropriate. [applause] annette: the caveat is this --
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every time there's side parking or some kind of -- myth that doesn't have anything to do with it, you get jefferson into it -- it is whatever day. jefferson would've said -- i don't think that. jefferson said a lot of things that were terrible, but jefferson said a lot of things that were wonderful. and if it is appropriate to use his words, i think they ought to be used. he was the founder of the university of virginia. you can't pretend that that didn't happen. so, yes. i think jefferson ought -- -- you can quote jefferson when it is an appropriate thing to do. you can't get rid of jefferson. i mean, you can't. there are things you have to live with, and you do with the problems, the flaws, you do with
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a good point in the bad points. me about people ask this all the time. and he is not john calhoun, right? there is a difference between a helpedwho, you know, found the united states of whosea, and a person destroy the nice if america. that's a different type of person altogether. so i think we are stuck with , him. i mean we've got the declaration of independence, the library of congress, west point, the on,erson grid, just on, and and on. he is injected himself into all aspects of life. you just have to deal with that. good thing toa deal with because it helps you
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talk about the most difficult aspects of american life. the best and the worst. i say in the book, it is fitting to talk about this story because monticello is where we have been the best and the worst, in one spot. to one person. yes. she should quote jefferson, yes. when it is appropriate. just to throw it out there for no reason. she wouldn't do that. presumably, she is doing this for a reason. and you cannot take them out of the university. calhoun was not worth it. i talk to people at yield about this -- at yale when they were trying to decide what to do. he did not occupy the same space that jefferson occupied in virginia. they will do without calhoun.
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they have another name for it. university is jefferson's university. >> do you know where the hemmings name came from with regard to this family? annette: no i don't. we don't. i have tried to figure that out. that was one of the things i tried to see, tried to see if there was english antecedents to it. .here are hemmings in england but, no. the captain who was supposed to be -- captain hemmings, they mentioned him, but i don't know her he came from. they deceive it the captain. the person who was the father of elizabeth. -- i don'tw where know anything beyond that. i don't know his first name. so it is difficult to track down when you don't have a first name. 's, but i hemmings
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haven't been able to make the connection beyond just the captain hemmings. >> the gentleman took my first question, so here is the second. annette: where are you? oh, there. a disembodied voice. [laughter] >> on my last trip to monticello, someone mentioned that upon jefferson's death, that three of his -- three of sally's children were put into a carriage and driven to d.c. and released without papers. annette: they told you that? i will have to talk to them. go ahead. [laughter] >> welcome on the assumption was that they were so fair scanned, that they should get -- well, the assumption was that they skinnedfai fair that they could just blend into the population. is that true? annette: it is a mix of stories.
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the eldest son, beverly hemmings, and harriet to tell it to live as white people. jefferson put harriet on the stagecoach. gave her money, and sent her away from monticello. he says in his farm but that they ran away. but they left. -- but they left to go live as white people. beverly left a couple of months before harriet. the thinking is, he went to prepare, instead of sitting her heers of, or off by herself, left earlier and put. on the stagecoach, gives her money, and and her away. they went to live as white people. we do not know what happened to them because of that. madison hemmings said she married someone in good circumstances in washington and had a daughter. she said harriet married a man who was well off as well, and had children, multiple children.
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but they did not associate with the family after a particular time because when you pass into the white world, you cannot going to see your relatives who are not passing. beverly is described, and one point, as having descended into a hot air balloon in petersburg. i tried tracking that down. i found a record of a balloon ascension during the 1830's, but i haven't been able to find anything else about him. i'm doing a second volume of the hemmings family story. i will try to figure that one out. people periodically appear claiming to be the descendents of beverly and harriet. but we have not been able to confirm that. -- they do not want papers. if they have papers, people know they were enslaved. and if they were enslaved, that means they are part of black,
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and could not live as white people. they were actually, by virginia law, white. virginia law at that time said if you were 7/8 white, you were white. the one drop rule is a product of the 20th century. so technically, they were white. but the difference between technical whiteness and actual whiteness -- people have known it would've been a problem for them. so, the two eldest live as white people. the two youngest are freed in jefferson's will. and they stay with their mother until she dies. then they leave and go to ohio. the youngest one, epson, at some difficultds it really for his family in chillicothe, ohio, where they had settled. there are stories written about him because he made his living as a violinist in ohio.
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and there are stories about his piano recitals and so forth. ohio began to crack down on blacks. and he, at some point, decides to take his family, and he moves to madison, wisconsin. he changes his name from extant hemmings to aston hemmings-jefferson or eh jefferson. and the children change their names to jefferson. in a live as white people. whenhey tell a story people asked him, are you related to jefferson? they say, oh, we are related to a jefferson uncle, or jefferson -- a collateral. everybody knew the jefferson had no legitimate white sons. that is their family story. for two generations, they keep the story of hemmings and jefferson, but the grandchildren , because they want to be white, they don't tell them about that. they lose the story of sally hemmings.
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and they lose the story of too.s jefferson, it is better to forget that them up as a black person with all of the limitations that would be on you. that family loses its story. that family line gave the dna for the testing that was done in 2008. in 1998. the did not know until 1970's that they had a son that kept trying to do his family history, and there were a long line of princeton graduates, and they cannot get past a certain point. it wasn't until brady wrote her book and had madison's recollection -- they could not figure this out. that is when they realize there was a connection. madison hemings was the only one whose family remained in the
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black community, although some of his children past to as well. -- whiteness the story is partly true. beverly and. --ve before jefferson dies beverly and harriet leaves before jefferson dies. this is before jefferson dies, the two youngest children are freed and his well. they stay in charlottesville, and they go off to ohio. >> we have time for one more over here. >> thank you so much for your research. do we have any knowledge -- i am over here. do we have any knowledge of the relationship between the hemingses and the rest of the slaves at monticello? with their -- was there a lot of resentment about the special relationship, or were they aware of it? annette: it is interesting
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because the people who have done -- that last point that you are making -- the people doing the project at monticello talking to all the people who were descendents of people enslaved at monticello say the hemings -- was vividy kept to people who were not members of the hemings amalie, and it was a reason to remember monticello. even when they are talking to people in a different family, they knew this story and talked about it. it was something people knew, and it -- jefferson's neighbors knew. they're talking about in their letters. grandson, thomas jefferson randolph, says it was a source of bitter jealousy. he claims that the other people down the mountain, another -- other non-hemmings people were
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jealous of the hemings. that was his interpretation. it could have been that they thought the hemingses co-opted. of course, jeff randolph would think, they are jealous because people get to hang around us. answer.bably is not the they probably did not want to hang around with him. it could have been that they thought -- it might -- they might have been resentful, not jealous, but who do you think you are, essentially? you have been co-opted by these people. so, that is the only hint of any kind of envy between them. the other indication is that people did cooperate. there is no reason to think that they actually hated them. but the only common we have about this comes from jeff friend off, and you really do have to be careful in looking at
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the words of the family, the legal family, who owns these people to take their word on what is going on there, and their interpretation of it. there is no reason to think beyond that that they loved or hated members of the hemmings family. >> i am sure we could ask questions all night. so, before we say good night, i want to remind everybody that annette gordon-reed will be signing copies of her book in the lobby. and there will be parting gifts. i want to thank annette gordon-reed for making my first year memorable. thanks, annette gordon-reed. [applause]
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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [cheers and applause] >> this weekend on "american history tv," at 6:00 p.m. on the blackuthor women who worked as nurses, soldiers, and spies for the union army during the civil war. of edward the wife bannister, one of the leading artists, african-american artists. she became involved on the underground railroad. she was a proud and consistent
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supporter of the u.s. colored troops. >> on lectures in history, professor margaret o'mara on the 1960 presidential election and events that affected the outcome. >> hero after hero was slain -- john f. kennedy, mother the king, and a robert f. kennedy. if recipient a broader national mourning. and now, it throws the democratic -- into turmoil. >> lynne cheney, and life reconsidered discusses president madison's personality, health problems, and political career. tomadison was lucky enough encounter doctors had said to exercise. what a modern thing to think. it is often suggested today. >> this month marks john f. kennedy's 100th birthday.
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the family reflects on the life and career of the 35th president. >> he was a decorated, comment veteran. he did believe in a strong military. but he had a much broader conception about what american identity really was. >> he reached across the aisle. he launched the peace corps on may 1 of 1961. an incredible program for young people. he started with the appliance for progress and he engaged in the space race. >> for a complete schedule, go to the -- go to >> sunday night on afterwards, physician and journalist elizabeth rosenthal examines the business side of health care in her book "an american sickness, how health care became big business and how you can take it back." the doctor is interviewed by dr. david blumenthal, president of
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the commonwealth fund. >> i was wondering if your book if you thoughts about whether health care is a free market? whether we can solve our problems in health care through free market forces? >> i think what we have seen -- probably not. at the beginning of the book, i put a tongue-in-cheek list of economic rules of the dysfunctional health-care market where if you think of health care as purely a business proposition, the market will solve, you get to crazy places know, a lifetime of treatment is preferable to a cure. i am not saying for a second if anyone really thinks that, but that is where market forces put you. >> watch afterwards, sunday night, at 9:00 p.m. eastern.
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american history tv was recently at four theater in washington d.c. for the 20th and will symposium hosted by the abraham lincoln institute, and the four theater society. next, a panel featuring speakers from the symposium discussing the 16th president's life, career, and legacy. this is followed by a brief ceremony awarding lincoln scholars. it is about 45 minutes. is fred martin, jr.. i am the president of the abraham lincoln student and the other of abraham lincoln's path to reelection in 1864, and i'm here to moderate the panel of distinguished scholars. and so, we are going to keep it informal. i might say, i got into lincoln because my great, great uncle


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