The Jefferson ”Family” Feud

Belle writes: A Monticello Association committee has issued a report recommending that the descendants ofSally Hemings NOT be allowed full membership in the association. The vote to accept or reject the recommendation will take place May 4 at the association’s annual meeting at Monticello. Carlos Santos has the story is today’s Times-Dispatch.

13 Responses to “The Jefferson ”Family” Feud”


  • All this slavish attention to the hemming and hawing of a group of people with the tattered strands of DNA from an exceptional but long dead patriot. I wonder how many of the Monticello Association came from a cuckolded coupling. Of course none of the white members certified their claims like they ask others to do.

    Wake me when it’s over.

    PO

  • Has anyone seen the missing Sally Tompkins? I usually see her around the west end of Cville, but today she sure seems lost.

  • From the Times-Dispatch story:

    Truscott said the report, while recommending the denial of regular membership to the Hemings descendants, suggested a “new category of membership . . . without the full privileges of membership” could be offered.

    Um, isn’t that pretty much the same deal they were given as slaves?

  • You are so right–it’s the 3/5 compromise all over again–that is hilarious.

  • One clarification–the Truscott quoted in your excerpt is actually one of the few members of the club who is PRO-Hemings descendants. That quote from the TD makes it sound like he’s suggesting the 3/5 compromise plan, but if you read further down you see that he actually wants full membership for Hemings descendants.

    I think it’s really interesting that, for the purposes of the Monticello organization, a “paper trail” is more conclusive and indisputable than mere “science,” i.e., DNA.

  • There’s a story in today’s Progress about this advisory report and the upcoming association meeting.

    (So — ahem — it looks like the Progress was scooped again: yesterday, by the Times-Dispatch and, by proxy, our own cvillenews.com.)

  • I’m not a law student but a secretary but what comes to my mind, Pleys (misspelled, I know but what do you want) vs. Ferguson. Yikes.

  • It looks like there are two benefits to “regular” membership in this association. The first — to be enjoyed while you are alive — is that you get to attend an annual meeting, after which you can chow on some fried chicken and fixin’s at Michie Tavern. The second — which comes only with death — is that your survivors can bury your corpse on the small plot of land the association owns at Monticello. (Non-lineal relations can petition to be “associate” members, which gets you a seat at the annual bufffet but not plot for your over-stuffed physical remains.)

    I don’t think that if I were one of the putative descendants of Sally Hemings that I would much want to join the association for such slim benefits — whatever the category of membership.

    I suspect what Heming’s descendants really wish for is recognition of their identity as TJ’s descendants. Again, if it were me, I wouldn’t let some “association” be the gatekeeper for how I perceive myself.

  • “I refuse to join any club that would have me for a member.” –Groucho Marx

  • The “DNA evidence” that everyone keeps blabbing about is really just that anyone from one side of Jefferson’s family (I can’t remember if it was maternal or paternal) could have fathered Hemming’s children. This does not PROVE that Jefferson himself knocked her up; all it proves is that someone from his bloodline (his cousins, his uncles, etc.) could have done the deed.

  • Monticello’s website provides the report of the Monticello Research Committee on the DNA and oral history evidence of a Hemings-TJ connection. The majority of that committee acknowledged that we can’t know with absolute certainty who fathered Hemings’ children, but they decided that the DNA combined with all the historical details strongly suggested TJ. One person dissented from this finding.

    The Hemings-TJ section of Monticello’s website is pretty comprehensive, and there are links to the full range of opinions on the issue.

  • From the DP article:

    “Association members who have seen the report said it would establish a parallel group, tentatively called Families of Jefferson’s Monticello. This group would make room for ‘any descendant of any family that had any connection to Monticello,’ association member David Works said, including ‘someone [who] could prove he was related to a workman on the house.’”

    I’m sure Hemings descendants will be flattered by being lumped in with descendants of the guy who plastered the walls at Monticello.

  • Scooped by the TD, yes. You’ll get no argument on that one because, again, it’s apples and apples, so to speak. But not by cvillenews.com. First, because of all the reasons stated on the other thread. Second, because it’s really only considered a scoop if it’s the first report — not some subsequent reprinting of the first report.

Comments are currently closed.

Sideblog