Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings Scandal

Rumor has it that the third president of the United States had an intimate relationship with his slave. According to these allegations, Sally Hemings, a slave of mixed-race, gave birth to six children one of whom was fathered by Thomas Jefferson. It is also possible that he fathered the rest of her children. Although most historians discounted these stories, a lot is left to be desired. There is a possibility that an intimate relationship existed between the two parties.

DNA tests are the most accurate means to determine the birth parents of a child. In the Jefferson case, DNA tests that were released in November 1998 confirm the rumors. There is a high possibility that the last born, Eston Hemings is Thomas' son. In a biography of Jefferson, an individual author suggested the story be true. Although historians went berserk upon publication of this story, Fawn McKay Brodie went ahead to conduct interviews with descendants of Jefferson's mixed-race children as if to prove a point. Other authors also portrayed her as an independent woman and a concubine to Jefferson.

It is possible also that this relationship was consensual. It may not have been exploitation by an influential person against a weaker one if one is to go by Barbara Chase-Riboud. Barbara, in her novel about the Hemings, depicts Sally as an independent woman. It means that although she was a slave, she could make personal decisions without any manipulation. Additionally, since Jefferson was the president, it is likely that he could have a choice of women. The possibility that they could have had an affair to the point that they could have sired a child or children goes to show that the relationship was based on understanding.

The decision made to keep Sally Hemings’ children as slaves can have an explanation. As the president of a powerful country, scandals were likely to cost him his position as president. If he were noted to have been giving special treatment to the children of one of his slaves, it would have raised several eyebrows. Sally, on the other hand, would be under a lot of scrutiny for allowing herself to become a concubine. In that case, it is possible that Thomas Jefferson was playing it safe.

It is not feasible that this was a tragic love affair. Since none of them came out to publicly declare the truth to this rumor, it shows that no one was uncomfortable with the situation. On Jefferson’s part, this could not be a tragic affair. If anything, such an affair could have been normal to him because as a human being, he most likely needed a companion. Since Sally could have been around him most of the time, she was probably the best candidate for a relationship. Sally, on the other hand, must have benefited from the relationship. Although her children remained as slaves, no one can tell the things that went on behind the scenes. It is likely that Sally's family received preferential treatment as slaves. However, it is probable that it could not be made known to the general public.

In a nutshell, public figures are subject to several rumors that can either make or break them. Most of them have been known to deny such rumors. It does not mean that their opinion is the gospel truth. However, it is not proper for them to participate in clandestine affairs. It is also not right for them to take advantage of other people’s situations unless it is on a common basis.

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