Family is complicated. The bonds of blood and DNA sometimes entangle us more than we would like them to. Add in race and an American myth and you have Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family.
Written by Shannon Lanier, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, the book explores the often complicated and difficult relationship between the many descendants of our 3rd President. For the last two centuries, a story has been circulating throughout America. After the death of Jefferson’s wife, he began a decades long affair with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves who was not only decades younger than he, but also his late wife’s half-sister.
Centuries later, the descendants of Thomas Jefferson and the children he sired by both his wife and his slave are numerous. But with the passage of time and the sometimes shaky relations between the races in this country, several of Jefferson’s white descendants (or those who families have passed for white for generations) question not only the validity of the myth, but also that they have cousins who are African-American.
I found this book to be fascinating. It’s fascinating because it attests to the fact that America is a complicated country and her people are equally as complicated.
I recommend it.