Love Don’t Live Here Anymore…..’Massa Thom and Sally Hemmings

I have deliberately avoided adding Sally Hemmings into my theory that Thomas Jefferson would not have been pleased with the election result on Tuesday. There is reason for that. If you add Sally into the mix of my theory, then we add issues that take away from the central argument about Jefferson’s feelings about race. And while I don’t mind talking about some things race-related with UUs, the nature of Sally’s relationship with ‘Massa Thom is not one of them If you all want to have that conversation, fine. Don’t be surprised that I won’t be a part of it.


2 thoughts on “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore…..’Massa Thom and Sally Hemmings

  1. I’ll concede without an argument that the nature of the relationship between Massa Tom and his “property” is, at best, problematic, and represents an ugly chapter in American history that many of us would just as soon ignore. Throw into the mix Jefferson’s underlying misogyny, the lack of good primary source material specific to THAT relationship, and the difficulty of Jefferson’s relationships with women in general, as well as the fact that Hemmings was technically only of 1/8th African parentage (which still made her 100% “black” under Virginian law), as well as the half-sister of Jefferson’s dead and much-beloved wife Marthas, and what you are left with is the stuff of novels, not history. So all I really want to suggest in my earlier post was that the evidence of Jefferson making “fatherly” (by 18th century standards) provisions for his own mix-race children, when he failed to do the same for the other slaves at Montecello, indicates to me that he might have been more accepting of the results of Tuesdays election that we think. Although in al honest, the more I have thought about this issue myself in writing these comments, the more I’ve come around to sympathizing with Kim’s point of view, and the suspicion that Jefferson’s fundamental racisim may have been more deeply ingrained than we like to accept.

  2. Kim, I cannot say I know why you take this position, and I am interested in doing so. Jefferson’s racism was fundamental and his treatment of Sally Hemmings seems to confirm it. Approaching from that position I am very interested in your reasons for not wanting to discuss that aspect.

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