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June 16, 2008

Living History

Jefferson's gardens

These are the fields of Monticello, once tilled by Thomas Jefferson's slaves. I visited there last Memorial Day weekend. Today, via Matt Yglesias, I see Ben Smith is reporting that Paula Abeles -- a white Jefferson descendant who's been active in keeping black descendants out of Monticello family reunions -- has become a John McCain volunteer after initially support Hillary Clinton. I've long been fascinated by Jefferson and his family history, and it's worth expanding, I think, upon how deeply racist and out-of-the-mainstream folks like Abeles are.

Conclusive DNA evidence linking Jefferson or one of his brothers to the black Hemings line has existed since 1998. In 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation concluded it was likely that Jefferson himself fathered all six of his slave Sally Hemings' children. The dates of their births correspond quite neatly to nine months after the rare times Jefferson and Hemings were simultaneously at the estate. And historical documents indicate, the foundation found, that "several people close to Thomas Jefferson or the Monticello community believed that he was the father of Sally Hemings' children."

If you visit Monticello today, you'll hear chilling, wrenching stories about the lives of the hundreds of enslaved people who lived there. Jefferson, although thought of in his own time and today as a "benevolent" slave-owner, did instruct his overseer to beat his slaves. Jefferson sold husbands away from wives and teenagers away from their parents. Jefferson publicly tortured and humiliated runaways.

Those Jefferson descendants who continue to reject their black brethren are facing off against both science and history, choosing to embrace an outdated and, quite literally, white-washed image of their scion. Hearing that Abeles supports McCain will only push more Clinton supporters -- the vast majority of whom are committed Democrats and fairly progressive -- into Obama's camp.

cross-posted at TAPPED


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A blue ribbon panel of 13 senior scholars (, found NO proof of Thomas Jefferson fathering ANY slave child. The Monticello Report was so biased and Chaired by an African-American oral historian that they issued the following "impossibility": "....suggests the strong likelihood that Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings had a relationship over time that led to the birth of one, and perhaps all, of the known children of Sally Hemings." Clarification and truth must be inserted here: * only ONE DNA testing was done on a known descendant of Eston Hemings whose family had ALWAYS claimed descent from "a Jefferson uncle", maeaning Randolph SO there would be a match already expected before the lab studies. Dr. Foster (I assisted him and have inside facts on this study), DID NOT inform Nature, Monticello, the media or other researchers of this fact and he even coordinated a false headline with Nature on this, YES, I have the e-mails from Foster and Nature to this affect.

You and the entire public have been misled for political correctness and a need to have historical revisionism. You may wish to let Monticello know of your displeasure of their concocted research. They even "hid and did not include in the original study" a Minority Report by a long time employee, Dr. Ken Wallenborn. After I reported this to the Chairman, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Dr. Dan Jordan (retiring in Nov. 2008), apologized to Dr. Wallenborn. He and two other long time guides there resigned because they refused to misinform the guests coming to Monticello. The foundation may own the building BUT you own Mr. Jefferson's fine legacy.

Herb Barger
Jefferson Family Historian

Man, that cracker is in some serious denial.

The undisputed fact that Tom Jefferson owned and brutalized other human beings doesn't seem to bother Herb; only the idea that Jefferson left his seed in those humans seems to rankle him.

Here in the 21st century, Herb, we don't call human beings "slave children."

So do you often publish stuff from Drudgico or is it worth it here because you got to include a completely gratuitous Hillary slam. Yep, you found it out Dana, anyone who supported Clinton is an unabashed racist and there was no reason ever for you to humanize them. Why, it's detestable you even have to sit in the same country as them!!


There is no discontinuity between Herb's comment and Dana's article - there is no conclusive proof that Hemings' children were Jefferson's. There is a genetic link between some of Sally's children and someone of the Jefferson male line. Everything else is supposition. So if the Montecello Family Reunions are for only the descendents of Thomas Jefferson, and not for any family connections (the children of his brother, for example), then I see no reason that the Hemings descendents should be included. Absent definitive proof, it becomes a question of how much you want to open the door to anyone who has even the bare whisper of a claim. If DNA evidence of male line descendency is all that it takes to claim family membership, then any descendent of Jefferson's brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc, or paternal uncles and great-uncles would qualify. The test is not specific enough to be accepted as valid - it cannot prove, it can only disprove. I'm pretty sure that this evidence would not get you inclusion into the DSDI Society (Descendents of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence). So I don't see why it should get you invited to the family reunion, either.

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