Thomas Jefferson

Early Career

Who was Sally Hemings?

Sally Hemings was a slave owned by Thomas Jefferson. It has been alleged that Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Hemings and that she bore his children. In 1802 James T. Callendar wrote about Jefferson’s affair with a “slave named Sally” in the Richmond Recorder. Debate still rages among historians as to the veracity of the Jefferson-Hemings relationship. Some suggest that Jefferson’s younger brother Randolph may have fathered children with Sally Hemings. DNA testing of Jefferson and Hemings descendants in 1998 showed a definite genetic link between the two families.


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