Tag Archives: Sally Hemings

America’s First Daughter Book Review

They say that history is written by the victors. They may also say that history is written by those who have access to the pen. For thousands of years, men have told their stories. It is only recently that women have been given the pen and the spotlight.

America’s First Daughter was published in 2016. In the book, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the story of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph, the eldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson. The book starts when Martha, known to her family as Patsy, is a young girl. After her mother’s death, Patsy becomes her father’s companion and confidant.

When her father named as the American minister to France, Patsy travels with her father. Compared to her Virginia home, Paris is another world entirely. Growing up within the world the of pre-revolution French aristocracy, Patsy becomes suspicious of Thomas’s relationship with Sally Hemmings. She also falls in love, but this love will not turn into marriage.

After Patsy returns home, she follows the prescribed path of marriage and motherhood. But her life will not be that of the average American woman of her day. It will not only shape the lives of her family, it will shape the lives of millions of Americans.

Based in on real life letters, this book tells the story of the early days of America from the female perspective. It is a perspective that in either fiction or non fiction, is not given the attention that it should receive. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is well written, well researched and worth the time it takes to read.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History

Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family Book Review

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.

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Flashback Friday-Jefferson In Paris (1995)

History is full of myths and half-truths that may or may not be completely accurate.

One of the myths of American history is the relationship between founding father/3rd President Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings. The 1995 film, Jefferson in Paris, recounts the years before Thomas Jefferson (Nick Nolte) became President.

Presently, Jefferson is the ambassador to the French court. Joining him is his daughter, Patsy (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his slave, Sally (Thandie Newton). Jefferson is having an affair with his much younger slave, who according to history, will bear him six children. While his personal life is a bit messy, his position as ambassador could change with the impending French Revolution.

This movie is very interesting. Blending fact with fiction that may or may not be true, the movie humanizes Thomas Jefferson and allows the audience to see the man behind the myth and the 18th century oil painting.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, History, Movie Review, Movies