President in the Family | Gilliams of Virginia

A President in the Family, by Byron W. Woodson, Sr.
Updated March 16, 2016

It has been said in
A President in the Family by Bryron W. Woodson, Sr., that the slaves of Drury Woodson: Hannah and her daughters Fanny and Jemima, went West with Charles Gilliam and his wife, Elizabeth Woodson and Peyton Riddle and his wife, Martha Woodson, the daughters of Drury Woodson. It has also been said that slave Jemima became the wife of Tom Woodson, the son of Sally Hemings.

Drury Woodson's Will, Cumberland County, dated 7 May 1788 does mention slaves, Hannah, Fanny, and Mima among others and does leave to daughters, Elizabeth and Martha, respectively Fanny and Mima. First, it has not been show as Byron Woodson states that Charles Gilliam and Elizabeth and Peyton Riddle and Martha go West. Second, if they do venture West they do not permanently settle there. Third there is no record that Charles or Peyton freed any of their slaves. Byron Woodson claims that Fanny was manumitted in Greenbriar County in 1803 and Hannah was manumitted there in 1805. This seems unlikely as Charles Gilliam and Peyton Riddle were in Cumberland in 18 July 1804 when Charles and Elizabeth sell to Peyton a certain tract of land. (Cumberland Deed Book 9, Page 453).

A President in the Family: Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Thomas Woodson
Byron W. Woodson, Sr.


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
—Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”

According to oral history handed down in Thomas’ (Tom’s) family for 130 years, “When Thomas was about twelve years old he had a dispute with his father and was sent to the farm of John Woodson.” The Woodson family interpretation of this oral history and events holds that public disclosure of the liaison between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson was inevitable, that in some way Thomas had a hand in the disclosure, and that Thomas was indignant toward the idea that he did anything wrong. The family lost knowledge of James Callender’s blistering news reports, if indeed it ever had known about them. Callender knew not of Thomas’ departure; if he had, he would surely have reported it. The precise time of Thomas’ banishment cannot be determined, but it certainly coincided closely with Callender’s scandal mongering.1

Thomas’ eventual freedom was anticipated, as Thomas Jefferson promised Sally he would free her children, but not banishment at so young an age. Whether or not the banishment was record of Thomas ever returning to Monticello to live or for a visit. Thomas may have boasted about his lineage while living at Monticello, prompting Callender’s investigation, but Jefferson did not act out of vengeance. The president was attempting to ameliorate a menacing political problem. It is most plausible that Jefferson’s intent was a temporary banishment, a cooling-off period of sorts, but Thomas was angered by it and undaunted by the prospect of losing his mother’s immediate attention and support. Most important, Thomas quickly began to focus on his freedom, defined in the broadest possible sense.

Even though sexual relations between owners and slaves were commonplace, Callender’s challenge to Jefferson’s authority was unprecedented. As a result Thomas’ childhood was severed, as if floodwaters had swept him away from his family. In retrospect, the predicament could have been easily anticipated. Thomas’ presence at Monticello could not be finessed forever. As the oldest child, and for years the only child, he drew attention. When Callender released his news report Beverly was four years of age and sister Harriet was just one year old. Thomas was the only child old enough to have learned about and understood that he was Thomas Jefferson’s son.

Two men named John Woodson, father (b. 1730) and son, were related to Thomas Jefferson through the elder Woodson’s wife, Dorothea. Dorothea and Thomas Jefferson’s mother, Jane, were both daughters of Isham Randolph. The older Woodson was Jefferson’s uncle and the younger his first cousin. John and Dorothea’s other children included Jane, Josiah, Elizabeth, Nannie, Isham, Martha, and others who were all Jefferson’s first cousins. This branch of the extended Woodson family lived in Goochland County about twenty-five miles southeast of Monticello in the direction of Richmond. The Woodson family traces its American roots to yet another John Woodson who came to Virginia in 1619 and established a plantation, Flower Dew Hundred, on the lower washes of the James River. 2

Members of this family served as officers in the Revolutionary War, as county sheriffs, and as members of the House of Burgesses during the colonial era. Jefferson’s uncle served as a colonel in the Revolutionary War and submitted reports to him while Jefferson served as governor of Virginia. The Woodsons were not as aristocratic as the Randolphs and the Lees. Members of both of those families signed the Declaration of Independence. The Woodsons were more typical of the larger, landowning, slave owning class of Virginia gentry. Like the Randolphs and many families of elevated status, the Woodsons often married relatives. Two of the elder John Woodson’s children married other Woodsons.

Although the elder John Woodson was dead by the time Tom left Monticello, his primary residence at Dover Tract still retained the designation “John Woodson’s farm.” The names of prominent men outlived them, particularly while their widows remained alive, as was the case here. Dorothea was alive when Thomas left Monticello. Dover Tract was less than two miles from Tuckahoe, a Randolph plantation where Jefferson had spent a large portion of his adolescence. Jefferson knew the area and its people as well as he knew his own Albemarle County neighborhood. He traveled through the area innumerable times as a small boy while living at Tuckahoe, later while attending William and Mary, and still later as a member of the House of Burgesses and as governor of Virginia. Jefferson often traded with members of the Woodson family, including Woodsons not as closely related who lived in Albemarle County.

Yet another John Woodson, cousin of the Woodsons of Dover Tract, operated a ferry on the James River under the regulation of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which set rates charged by ferry operators. A half-dozen Woodsons operated ferries on the James River. This John Woodson owned land on both sides of the river where the Willis River (or Creek) empties into the James River. The land on the south shore of the river was in Cumberland County. The ferry operation was only a few miles from Dungeness, the Randolph plantation where Jane Randolph Jefferson, the president’s mother, was raised. 3

Thomas’ whereabouts during the first two years following his departure from Monticello are not documented. This is not surprising. Thomas’ banishment from Monticello was for an entirely clandestine purpose. His life was closely tied to the Woodson family in those years.


Jemima, the woman Thomas would soon marry and would remain with for sixty-three years, lived near John Woodson’s ferry in her childhood. She was enslaved on the farm of Drury Woodson (b. 1722), who lived in Cumberland County on the opposite side of the James River from Monticello and Dover Tract. Her mother, Hannah, and her sister, Fanny, were also slaves there. Jemima was the younger child, but seven years older than Thomas. Drury Woodson made a will dated May 7, 1788, and died in October that same year. Hannah, Fanny, and Jemima (Mima in the will) were left to Drury Woodson’s heirs, his wife and children. Drury owned a total of eighteen slaves at his death. Daughters Elizabeth, who married Charles GILLIAM, and Martha, who married Peyton Riddle, were among the heirs. Elizabeth and Martha each inherited one of Hannah’s daughters, Fanny and Jemima, respectively. 4

Drury Woodson’s will also cited a small debt owed to a John Woodson; Drury Woodson did not have a son named John. This establishes contact between Drury and a John Woodson, probably the ferry owner. Most likely the several Woodsons who owned ferries linked the entire Woodson family as a result of frequent use of their ferries. The notation signifies a business relationship and occasional contact, and establishes a point of contact through which Thomas may have met Jemima.

Immediately after the Louisiana Purchase (1803), descendants of the elder John Woodson of Dover Tract and Drury Woodson of Cumberland County traveled over the Allegheny Mountains to settle in Kentucky. Dorothea Woodson, the widow of the elder John, died in 1803. Josiah (b. 1758), the oldest son of John Woodson, inherited Dover Tract. Josiah’s oldest daughters left for Kentucky in 1804. The younger John Woodson (of Dover Tract) left in 1805 for Woodford County, Kentucky, where he settled. Evidence indicates that a John Woodson helped Thomas move west; most likely it was this John Woodson, as the other men who shared that name remained in the Piedmont.

The history of Drury Woodson’s family’s movement west is more complex. Daughter Elizabeth moved to Kentucky with her husband, Charles GILLIAM. It appears that Martha’s husband, Peyton Riddle, died on the westward trek. Martha Woodson Riddle returned to Piedmont Virginia as a widow. The lives of the slaves Drury and John Woodson (the elder) had owned became destabilized; nonetheless, as Americans, they yearned for westward movement as well. 5

Westward movement intensified in 1803 and would remain a defining part of American life for decades. Correspondingly, a small portion of the slave population was manumitted by owners who sought a different life in the West. Many but not all whites who moved to Kentucky abandoned the tradition of slavery and the pressure of debt. They farmed in Kentucky without the assistance of slaves. A large number of enslaved people were sold as a result and transported to the cotton fields of the Deep South. Some slaves benefited from western movement, but many more fell deeper into the den of iniquity.


Precisely how and where Thomas and Jemima met is not known. They may have met in the vicinity of John Woodson’s ferry or further west, after each migrated to Greenbriar County. Regardless of how they met, we know that the union, which lasted sixty-three years, started soon after Thomas was sent to the Woodsons’ farm. The union was the definitive juncture in the lives of Thomas and Jemima and the origin of a legacy that has thrived through several generations.

Banished from the comforting embrace of the Hemings clan on Mulberry Row, Thomas (Tom) now found a new clan, one not then as large but certainly as strongly bonded. Jemima, Hannah, and Fanny became his family. Tall, handsome, and self-assured, Thomas adopted Woodson as his surname and began to assume adult roles. Whether by luck, fate, or compatibility, the attachment was exceedingly propitious. Jemima was steadfast, pious, and loving. Hannah seemed to possess some of the qualities of Tom’s grandmother, Betty Hemings. Hannah may very well have played a key role in the union of young Thomas and the older but unattached Jemima. As if that were not enough, Jemima’s sister Fanny was just as eager to face life’s challenges and reap its rewards as Thomas. They both seemed to evoke an indomitable spirit. Thomas and Jemima’s first child, their son Lewis, was born in January 1806 in Greenbriar County, Virginia. 6

The Greenbriar County deed of a property sold by Robert Renick to James Kincaid places “Tom Woodsen” on an adjoining property in 1807. The land is located on Brushy Ridge, just east of Sinking Creek, four miles from the county seat of Lewisburg. Greenbriar County, located just west of the Allegheny Mountains, became part of West Virginia during the Civil War but was part of Virginia when Thomas migrated there. Lewis Woodson’s birth establishes the family in Greenbriar County in early 1806. John Woodson’s trek to Kentucky suggests that Thomas was there in 1805. Fanny was manumitted in Greenbriar County in 1803 and Hannah was manumitted there in 1805. These points suggest that Thomas and Jemima both had moved to Greenbriar County by 1805 and that Tom spent less than two years on the Piedmont after leaving Monticello. Thomas, Jemima, Hannah, and Fanny may not have moved west as one group, but the time frame was fairly tight. 7

The manumission of Fanny and Hannah is documented, but the nature of the manumission is not. Did they buy their freedom? Did someone purchase freedom for them? If so, who? Manumission papers were not filed for Jemima, but she lived as a free person. Hannah’s family gained freedom, a family, and a homestead. This was all extremely fortuitous. There is no documentary evidence that these events were arranged or aided, but if they were not arranged (in part), then Thomas Jefferson, his mulatto son Thomas (Tom) and Thomas’ newfound family all happened upon good fortune at the same time by chance.

The citation of the name “Tom Woodsen” in Greenbriar County in 1807 is particularly telling. Callender recorded the presence of a boy named Tom (Thomas) at Monticello; President Thomas Jefferson’s son Tom carried that name to Greenbriar County and assumed the Woodson surname. He was the only Woodsen or Woodson in the county then and the only Woodson male adult (all children there were his own) in the county in 1820 according to the U.S. Census. The U.S. Census of 1810 was lost or destroyed. The 1820 census reflects the formalization of his given name, then changed to Thomas. Tom is not unknown as a given name. An individual would have to have some motivation to change his name from Tom to Thomas, and Tom (Thomas Woodson) certainly had a motive. Having relocated, started a family, and matured, he became comfortable using his given name.

Greenbriar County is a rugged but alluring land of hills and flats, spotted with an occasional fragment of the Allegheny Mountain chain. The Greenbriar River carries off the flow of streams, which meander around the bases of heavily wooded mountains and ridges. Thomas and Jemima settled about four miles west of Lewisburg, on a rise called Brushy Ridge. The site was adjacent to the Midland Trail, a dirt road leading from Virginia to the Ohio River. Like the Cumberland Trail to the south and the National Road to the north, the Midland Trail was a major westward migration route. It seems Tom was more of a cattle grazer than a dirt farmer. Thomas Woodson became the quintessential American in many respects. His family sprang to life just as the nation’s population was exploding. He resettled just west of the Allegheny Mountains, at a time when it was almost un-American to stay put. He focused on the practicalities of life. Yet, one characteristic set Thomas Woodson apart from the mainstream. By marrying Jemima, a woman far too dark to consider passing in white society, he chose to live as an African American.

With a complexion light enough to be taken for white, Thomas Woodson experienced and witnessed many of the horrors and contradictions of racial taboos. Situations that were black and white for others were much more complex for mulattos. The nature of Thomas’ freedom in Greenbriar County was not an anomaly, although he was not a free man by Virginia law. He looked like a white man, and in truth a former slave who looked white could choose to be free and white.


The following tale taken from Virginia court records imparts a lesson about race as Thomas Woodson must have experienced it:

A mulatto named William Hayden was apprehended in the county of Prince William and committed to the jail of the said county, and advertised as the law in such cases directs, and was by order of the county court advertised for sale., and no person having claimed him, and he not having proved his freedom, he was offered at public auction for sale…when one Robert Lipscomb, being a bidder and making the highest bid became the purchaser of the said Hayden, as agent…Lipscomb informed your petitioner, that his principal would pay the purchase money in a few days. The said Hayden was returned to the jail to await the arrival of the trader, who in a short time came and being requested, refuse to pay the amount which he had authorized the said Lipscomb to bid. Your petitioner afterwards sent the said Hayden to the town of Fredericksburg. And the City of Richmond, by one Col. James Ferrell, of Prince William (who had a number of slaves to be offered for sale) to be sold if the amount could be obtained for him equal to the said Lipscomb’s bid. The said Hayden was offered for sale to sundry persons in Fredericksburg by Ferrell and myself, he was also offered in Richmond by Ferrell and myself, all of who refused to purchase him at any price, on account of his color. All alleging he was to [too] white. The said Ferrell returned him to your petitioner in the town of Brentsville, when he offered him for sale on a court day, several traders were present, all of whom refused to make a bid for him, all alleging that his color was too light and that he could by reason thereof, too easily escape from slavery and pass as a white man, and while your petitioner was endeavoring to sell the said Hayden, he made his escape, and altogether your petitioner has made every exertion to regain possession of him, he had not been able. 8

State laws gave whites more rights and protections than nonwhites; thus it was necessary to fit everyone into a racial grouping. The terms varied among states in legal definition. The Virginia law of 1785 declared that “every person, who has one quarter or more of Negro blood shall be deemed a mulatto, and the word Negro in any section of this or any other statue shall be construed to mean mulatto as well as Negro.” North Carolina took a very different approach, stipulating that “all persons descended from Negro ancestors, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person, shall be deemed free negroes and persons of mixed blood.” It was the only state to consider all persons with some African ancestry as Negro. As slaves, African Americans were denied surnames and prohibited from learning to read or write, in part to disconnect them from their genealogy. If they were inclined to prove their lineage in order to live as part of white society, they were unable to do so; yet, if they looked white enough to pass, moved to another locale, and/or kept a low profile, they could pass. 9

As time went on, the number of quadroon and octoroon children increased. No state enacted a statute that defined white persons as those whose ancestors were entirely white! Courts were often called on to determine the race of a person and regularly did so based upon inspection. Whites no doubt expected those mulattos who looked white to live as white persons. Otherwise the system of racial discrimination would deteriorate. If some individuals looked white but acknowledged their African heritage, then how could whites that did not have or acknowledge African ancestry expect society to recognize their alleged racial purity? Mulattos often migrated for precisely this reason. 10

The following amusing account reflects the absurdity that mulattos found in the caste system that still prevailed in the early nineteenth century:

In the summer of 1838, the monotony of Memphis was relieved by the sudden appearance of Monsieur Dukay, an individual of foreign aspect, peculiarly French in his accent and the color of his cuticle.…Agreeable in conversation and prepossessing in manner, he was not long in making himself the center of a social circle. The ladies smiled delightedly in his presence, and through the long summer months no party or fashionable assemblage was complete without Monsieur Dukay. He sang charmingly in French. But his greatest attraction was the possession of two sugar plantations in Louisiana. On the upper plantation, he claimed an annual production of four hundred hogheads, and six hundred on the lower plantation. This was enough to sweeten his society, and give a saccharine tinge to his general conversation. The merchants, too, were happy to make his acquaintance. He talked eloquently of finance. But all things have an end, and it became necessary in the course of events for Monsieur Dukay to depart, and on the event of this interesting occasion, he deplored with tearful eyes the necessity that compelled him to return to his plantations.…From a friend in the grocery line, he purchased a bill of supplies for the upper plantation, giving in payment a draft on his New Orleans merchant. From a “old dear friend” he obtained, in similar manner, a fine riding horse, saddle and bridle; and from a bosom friend and companion he reluctantly consented to receive a diamond ring for his only sister. Months passed away, and no tidings came from the elegant Frenchman. The drafts were duly returned for non-acceptance.…But, during the ensuing winter, a gentleman with whom he had been intimate, happened in New Orleans and found “Mon cher Dukay” manipulating in the capacity of a quadroon barber. 11

Though miscegenation was condemned by so-called decent society, the practice persisted from the early years of the Virginia colony. In 1662, the Virginia Assembly broke tradition with English law, declaring, “Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by an English man upon a Negro woman shall be slave or free, Be it enacted…that all children born in this country shall be bond or free only according to the condition of the mother.” Not only did this act break with English legal tradition, whereby paternity defined the status of an offspring, it broke with the tradition of Roman law—a tradition over 1,000 years old. 12
The French retained Roman tradition. Consequently, in Louisiana, mixed-race offspring were usually acknowledged and treated well by their fathers. Slaveholders in colonial Virginia and other southern areas rigidly followed taboos that prevented discussion of the origin of mixed-race children. Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote of this condition:

God forgive us but ours is a monstrous system, a wrong and an iniquity! Like the patriarchs of old, our men live all in one house with their wives and concubines; and the mulattoes one sees in every family partly resemble the white children. Any lady is ready to tell you who is the father of all the mulatto children in everybody else’s household but her own. Those, she seems to think, drop from the clouds. 13

What did Thomas Jefferson think about this monstrous system? Leaving in-depth analysis of this difficult question to historians, the following Jefferson quotation conveys a great deal about his perspective toward slavery: “We have the wolf by the ears; and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” 14

How did Jefferson regard the standing of his mulatto children vis-à-vis southern society, whose racial schism was its defining characteristic? An acquaintance, Francis C. Gray, asked a related question in 1815: “When does a black man become white?” Jefferson’s response is intriguing. “You asked me in conversation, what constituted a mulatto by our law.…Our canon considers two crosses with the pure white, and a third with any degree of mixture, however small, as clearing the issue of negro blood.” 15

Let us express the pure blood of the white in the capital letters of the printed alphabet, the pure blood of the negro in the small letters of the printed alphabet, and any given mixture of either, by way of abridgment in MS. letters.
Let the first crossing be of pure negro, with A, pure white. The unit of blood of the issue being composed of the half of that of each parent will be . Call it, for abbreviation, (half blood).
Let the second crossing be of and B, the blood of the issue will be or substituting for its equivalent, it will be call it (quarteroon) being ¼ negro blood.
Let the third crossing be of and C, their offspring will be call this (eighth), who having less than ¼ of or of pure negro blood, to wit ⅛ only, is no longer a mulatto, so that a third cross clears the blood.
From these elements let us examine their compounds. For example, let and cohabit, their issue will be wherein we find ⅜ of or negro blood.
Let and cohabit, their issue will be wherein makes still a mulatto.
Let and cohabit, the half of the blood of each will be wherein is no longer a mulatto, and thus may every compound be noted and summed, the sum of the fractions composing the blood of the issue being always equal to unit. 16

By Jefferson’s definition, therefore, the five living children he and Sally Hemings produced were white. He spoke of “clearing the issue of negro blood,” viewing the amalgamation as the elimination of Negro heritage. Jefferson viewed his miscegenation not in terms of an increase in the mulatto population, but in terms of the erasure of Negro blood from the veins of the children he fathered by Sally Hemings. The twist was that Tom took an African American wife. Given that experience, would Jefferson then prearrange marriages for the other children?


Native Americans never populated Greenbriar County heavily. Shawnee living in the Scioto River Valley in what is now Ohio considered white settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains a threat, predicting that once over the mountains, whites would continue to move westward. Shawnee sent raiding parties to Greenbriar County in the early 1760s and successfully dislodged white settlers, who then organized retaliatory incursions into Ohio. After more bloodshed, a “treaty” was made in 1765. No doubt both parties violated the treaty, but the prevailing result was continued white migration westward. In May 1778, whites, aided by at least one very effective African American rifleman, fought off Shawnee warriors in the vicinity of Brushy Ridge. According to John Stuart, who fought there, it was the last time Native Americans invaded Greenbriar County “in large party.” 17

Westward migration flowed along the Midland Trail at a relentless pace. The English, Scots, Welsh, and Germans sailed in a steady procession to American shores. Young Americans who were born on the eastern shores walked, rode, and pushed west. Anxieties of the past were lost in the task of clearing land, clothing babies, digging wells, and building shelter. Free colored who were manumitted or had escaped found their way west also. No longer were northern states and Canada the only options. Slavery was outlawed in the Northwest Territories by the Ordinance of 1787; as a consequence, Ohio was slave-free when it was admitted as the seventeenth state in 1803.

Both Fanny and Hannah were manumitted by Samuel Price, a local man. 18 Hannah established a household on Price land as a “free colored” person, as free blacks were then known. There seemed to be a bond between Hannah and the Price family, but its precise nature is lost to history. Fanny bought land in the county in her own name, as her husband, Lewis Leach, remained a slave there. Several families who lived in the vicinity of Thomas Woodson’s farm on Brushy Ridge stayed in the area for several generations. The Hugart family built a grist mill; branches of the Renick family raised cattle on several farms in the county.
Jemima Woodson gave birth to another son, George, in 1808. Fanny’s family grew also; she soon named a son Thomas—certainly a reciprocation since Jemima’s first son, Lewis, took the name of Fanny’s husband. A new generation sprang forth in hearty fashion. Whether it was the mountain spring water, the excitement of westward movement, release from the iniquitous vise of slavery, or the strength of their family bond, something allowed them to flourish.


Sally Hemings lost Thomas to the scandal that exposed his paternity, but she held onto her two younger children, Beverly and Harriet, who remained at Monticello. Beverly was the older of the two; Harriet was born two months after Jefferson became president. During this time Sally moved to a room among newly completed the South Dependencies, a row of rooms built into the hillside, a level below the mansion. The Dependencies were connected to the mansion by an all-weather passageway. Most of the rooms that comprised the South Dependencies, however, were not residencies; among them were the kitchen and the smoke house. Terraces above extended over the entrances to the Dependencies reaching brick columns for support. This provided a cover above the entrances but no hindrance to the lawn immediately forward, which no doubt provided the perfect setting for child’s play.

Hemings gave birth to no children in 1802 or in the two years after the scandal that rendered her liaison with Jefferson a political liability. The president traveled to Virginia, arriving on April 4, 1804, because his daughter Maria Jefferson Eppes was very ill. When Maria had been too young to travel with him to France, Jefferson worried about his child, separated by an ocean; now he was worried by her fragility. She had given birth to a daughter, Martha, on February 15. Maria’s husband, Congressman John Eppes, left the capital prior to Jefferson to be at Maria’s side. He found the baby in satisfactory health, but Maria was weak and nauseous, resembling her own mother’s frail condition upon giving birth. The anxious vigil ended when Maria died on April 17. Jefferson was stricken. For weeks his letters avoided direct admission of his loss. 19
While Jefferson was at Monticello, Sally Hemings conceived again. Jefferson left Monticello on May 11, 1804. James Madison Hemings was born on January 19, 1805. Madison’s birth says a great deal about the liaison of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. He no doubt held no forethought of a tryst with Hemings during this trip to Virginia. One can only imagine the emptiness in his heart and conclude that he found Sally Hemings’ love irresistible and sustaining. 20

While serving as president, Jefferson usually returned to Monticello every summer for a few months. In 1807, he stayed at Monticello from the beginning of August until October 3. Sally Hemings’ last child was born May 21, 1808. His name, Eston, was very uncommon. Yet the name appeared in the Randolph family tree, as had the names of Sally’s other children, Thomas, Harriet, and Beverly. Madison, named for the president’s closest political protégé, was the exception. 21

Thomas Jefferson was sixty-five years old when Eston Hemings was born. This was an advanced age to father children in the early eighteenth century; of course most men of his age lacked a sexual partner young enough to bear children. Actually, it was relatively uncommon to live to the age of sixty-five. At the time, life expectancy was about forty-five years of age, though many of Jefferson’s aristocratic friends lived longer. Jefferson gave little indication that age was taking a toll on him. He did have arthritis and occasionally suffered from headaches throughout his life; serious illnesses were, however, rare. Jefferson lived eighteen years beyond Eston’s birth. He rode horseback until the year of his death. Sally Hemings was thirty-five when she gave birth to Eston; no record of the state of her health survives, though it is known she remained attractive into middle age. She was nearing the end of her childbearing capability. Even if sexual expression ended at this time, intimacy between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings continued.

The liaison of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings was the culmination of three successive generations of extramarital miscegenation in the Hemings family. The rape of Betty Hemings’ mother by Captain Hemings, John Wayles’ claim of sexual privilege with Betty, and the intimacy of Jefferson and Sally Hemings each exhibited stark differences, yet all intrinsically grew from racial and sexual domination. Captain Hemings abandoned his child, Betty Hemings, and her mother. The exploitation was raw and abrupt, typical of the behavior that accompanied military conquests throughout the ages, as armies burned villages, torturing and raping conquered people to subjugate them or killing them to acquire land.

Betty Hemings lived on John Wayles’ plantation from birth. Wayles did not sexually exploit her until after his three white wives had died. He extended his sexual life; Betty gained social status and material comforts. Betty filled an important role in the scheme of Wayles’ plantation enterprises. Wayles, an ambitious planter and large landowner, was not born a member of one of Virginia’s leading families. He borrowed and married into wealth. He did not have a living son. There was little incentive for him late in life to forego natural urges and emotional attachment only to keep up appearances. Betty did not have the choice of denying Wayles; yet, had she been given a choice, the outcome may have been the same. The union of Betty Hemings and John Wayles was a case of mutual accommodation. The biggest loser was Betty’s former mate, the father of her first six children.

In contrast, the union of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings was less deliberate. Jefferson, a forty-six-year-old statesman, probably did not plan to consort with a sixteen-year-old girl. Yet, in the whirlwind of the Parisian panorama, intimacy ripened and blossomed. Despite Jefferson’s attempts to ignore, deny, or disavow his attraction to her, it reasserted its magnetism years later. Hemings, whether in Paris or at Monticello, had no pretensions of arranging a life for herself outside of that which might be planned and permitted by her master. Since Sally’s mother had become the consort of her master, Sally Hemings saw no shame in the liaison. She embraced no lovers during Jefferson’s long absences from Monticello in the early 1790s. During the years Jefferson served as secretary of state, he was successful in disavowing his desire for Hemings. However, for a few years, from 1795 to 1801, interruptions were put at bay and attraction ascended the scale to devotion. As Jefferson grew older, many old friends died; his circle of political contacts and friendships remained large, but his intimate circle tightened. Sally Hemings and his daughter Martha became the centers of his emotional world. The relationships were obviously vastly different; but Jefferson’s need for each was great.


The presidency and Jefferson’s glorification were sources of strain, mixed emotion, and suspicions within the family. The Jeffersons were mortals, but the exaltation aimed at Thomas Jefferson possessed a quality of divinity and imperishability. Though Martha loved her father deeply and grasped the range and uniqueness of his talent, she also disliked having to share him with so many people and responsibilities. Jefferson was in the nation’s new capital, Washington, when he learned of his first presidential electoral victory. Martha waited two months after the election to write her father. She mentioned nothing of his election then, nor in subsequent letters.

Both of Jefferson’s sons-in-law were elected to Congress. Initially both lived at the President’s House, as the White House was then called. Martha’s husband, Thomas Mann Randolph, stormed out of the President’s House one day in February 1807 in a rage emanating from a conflict with his brother-in-law, John Eppes. Randolph wrote a bitter letter to Jefferson, accusing him of favoritism. Jefferson did everything he could think of to assuage Randolph’s bitter feelings, but Randolph elected to remain in a boarding house rather than return to the President’s House. This was not the first evidence of Randolph’s erratic behavior, and it would not be the last. About this time, Jefferson decided that his daughter should move to Monticello with him after his retirement.

Martha’s move to Monticello would not be a matter of small consequence. She and Randolph had eight children at the time. Three more would be born at Monticello. Randolph sometimes mistreated his wife and assaulted his sons, particularly the oldest. Jefferson was aware of the consequences of the arrangement before the Randolphs joined him. Jefferson also knew of his son-in-law’s weak finances and realized that the Randolphs’ residence would be problematic. Jefferson would forfeit quiet enjoyment of his cherished Monticello in exchange for the opportunity to impose his calming presence upon the family for his daughter’s sake. He felt that the arrangement was his duty and his right.

In the meantime, the business of government consumed most of Jefferson’s time. In the early days of his first term, he received reports of Spain’s intention to relinquish the Louisiana Territory to France. Jefferson promptly moved to block the transfer through diplomacy. He advised the American envoy in Paris that, if France occupied New Orleans, “from that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation.” Spain was not a threat to American expansion into the Mississippi Valley, but Jefferson viewed France’s presence cautiously. 22

Extending their power and influence, the French had established New Orleans in 1718, gaining control of the Mississippi River and access to the vast Mississippi River Valley. At the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, France lost the Louisiana Territory to Spain. However, the French-speaking people of Louisiana remained. Though the French regained the territory in the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800, they did not garrison it. In 1801, Haitian slaves led by Toussaint-Louverture revolted successfully. The French army, sent in 1802 to suppress the revolt, succumbed to yellow fever. The Haitian colony had been France’s primary outpost in the region. France had little use for Louisiana unless it controlled Haiti. Jefferson was now anxious to determine the intentions of France, which undoubtedly had changed during the course of these events.
Jefferson dispatched James Monroe to Europe as a special envoy. Samuel du Pont, a close friend, informed Jefferson that France was willing to negotiate for the sale of the Louisiana Territory. On April 11,1803, Talleyrand, the French foreign minister, summoned American diplomat Robert R. Livingston to ask him if the United States would be interested in purchasing the Louisiana Territory, as Napoleon had abandoned plans to reconquer Haiti. On the verge of renewed warfare with Britain, Napoleon valued money more than the distant territory. James Monroe arrived in Paris with a fresh knowledge of Jefferson’s ambitions. On April 30, Monroe and Livingston initialed an agreement that ceded the Louisiana Territory to the United States for approximately $15 million. The French signed it two days later. Final approval of the agreement provided Americans with unimpeded use of the Mississippi River and territory equal in size to that already controlled by the United States. Any brief attempt to describe the enormity, importance, and success of the transaction would fail to do it justice.

Jefferson’s second presidential term generated a related achievement. As early as 1783, Jefferson proposed an expedition to California. His grasp of the strategic importance of expansion into the Louisiana Territory was combined with his insatiable interest in scientific matters. For decades, he recorded the weather, tabulated plant growth, and registered animal life in Virginia. He sought a similar knowledge of the western territory. Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis to lead an expedition to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis, his co-leader, William Clark, and a band of explorers left St. Louis on May 14, 1804. The party wintered with the Mandan Indians in what is now North Dakota. There they secured the services of a Shoshoni woman translator, Sacajawea. The expedition reached the Pacific Ocean in November 1805. Leaving the Pacific shore in March 1806, the explorers returned to St. Louis on September 23, 1806. During the 8,000-mile journey, Lewis and Clark wrote meticulous journals about the land they traversed. The expedition accumulated a wealth of knowledge about the Great Plains and the area that is now the American Northwest. The endeavor filled in a huge blank space on the map and encouraged the American people to claim the West.


A triumph such as the Louisiana Purchase can mark a new era, just as death is the mark of closure. The death of Betty Hemings, who had lived for thirty-three years within a stone’s throw of the Monticello mansion, certainly signified a new era for the plantation. She was the matriarch of a family of fifty or more persons who lived on Mulberry Row. Her family helped to build the Monticello mansion and the house on the Poplar Forest plantation. Her youngest son, John, most likely built the casket in which Thomas Jefferson rests. During portions of several years, Jefferson lived at Monticello without the company of other Jeffersons. From 1773 until his death fifty-three years later, whether he was at Monticello, in Paris, Philadelphia, Washington, or elsewhere, he was seldom out of contact with members of the Hemings family. Most of the time he had only to call and one would appear instantly. Jefferson biographers such as Dumas Malone left Betty Hemings out of her master’s life, but her character loomed large on the Monticello plantation.
Betty Hemings died in 1807 at the age of seventy-two. Few slaves lived to that age. Her life reflected centuries of American history. It merged the past and the future in the rarest manner. Betty Hemings spawned and nurtured a clan that embodied massive societal change. Her mother was a full-blooded African, captured and brought to America in the eighteenth century. Betty Hemings saw two sons gain freedom in that same century. She must have known that at least a few of her grandchildren would somehow leave the vise of slavery and live as white persons, as they did. At least two of her children and several grandchildren became literate in a time when the education of blacks was illegal. Her children learned many skills that today are seldom associated with the enslavement of African Americans.

If the Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings liaison is viewed as an aberration, if Monticello is viewed as an aberration, then one might examine whether the cause for that aberration lies in another. Was the relationship between Martha Wayles Jefferson and Betty Hemings the phenomenon that created the distinctive circumstances of the Hemings family? Martha was thirteen years of age when her father’s third and last wife died. She never knew the love of her biological mother, who died three weeks after she was born. It must have been difficult for a daughter to know that her mother died three weeks after her birth. Of course, the sensibility may have been different in an age when early death was more common. Who cared for Martha after her birth and until her first stepmother arrived? Her father’s second wife presumably cared for Martha during her marriage to Wayles. This wife gave birth to four children of her own, one of whom died in infancy. How much love did Martha receive from a stepmother who raised three biological daughters of her own? Martha’s father owned several plantations and actively traded slaves; as a self-made man, he lacked the family support network that most men of his ilk enjoyed. John Wayles attempted to care for his daughter through remarriage, but those attempts failed.

Whenever Betty Hemings entered Martha’s life as a caregiver, the relationship continued until Martha’s death in 1782. At the latest, the relationship began in 1760 with the death of John Wayles’ last wife. At the earliest, it began at Martha’s birth in 1748. Martha must have recognized that her father was also the father of Betty’s new brood. Yet Martha’s awareness of the social unacceptability of the arrangement may have been very limited. As the oldest child, she would not learn from siblings to scorn miscegenation. Her father had come to America as a single man; he was well liked and jovial. He suffered the deaths of three wives, and any sneering among neighbors must have been muted. Martha did not have a mother who was being hurt by her father’s interest in a mulatto concubine. It is likely that Martha saw Betty Hemings only as capable, caring, and loving and as the fulfillment of a void in her life. Betty remained in Martha’s life through difficult pregnancies, wartime displacement, and her final illness.

Martha’s love for Betty and the acceptance of her children as family rose from circumstances cited. This is not to suggest that Martha regarded her half-sisters and half-brothers as siblings. Still, she accepted them as family in some fashion. Miscegenation was a common occurrence in Virginia; its presence at Monticello was not aberrant. Comprehensively, however, the life of the Hemings family at The Forest and Monticello was an aberration in that it was markedly affected by a history of compounded miscegenation and the repetitive loss of life among the Wayles and Jefferson families. The resulting lifestyle deviated considerably from the traditions of American slavery in the eighteenth century.

During the first twenty years following Monticello’s creation, Jefferson did not free any slaves. Two of Betty Hemings’ sons were freed in the 1790s. In the new century, emancipation of the Hemings clan accelerated; the first to gain freedom was Thomas, Sally’s oldest son. Within two years of Thomas’ 1802 departure, his cousin Jamie, the son of Critta Hemings, ran away.

Jamie Hemings was severely beaten by Gabriel Lilly while working in the nailery under his direction. James Oldham, a carpenter, described the event: “The Barbarity that he maid use of with little Jimmy was the moost crool. To my noledge Jimmy was sick for thre nights and the most part of the time I rely thot he would not be of Livd he at this time slepd. In the room with me.” Jamie Hemings was not able to work, according to Oldham, “and begd. Him to not punnish him.” Lilly whipped the boy again, until he was not able to raise his head. Jamie escaped. A year later, in 1805, Oldham, who, was then living in Richmond, informed Jefferson that he had seen the boy. After contemplating whether Jamie should be placed in jail, Oldham took him in and looked to Jefferson for instruction. Oldham informed Jefferson that Jamie wished to return to Monticello if he were not placed under the supervision of Lilly again. Jefferson responded with accommodation, typical of his treatment of the Hemings clan. He indicated that Jamie would be placed in joinery work under the direction of John Hemings and Lewis. “I can readily excuse the follies of a boy,” Jefferson explained. But Jamie did not return to Monticello as he had pledged to do; he slipped out of Oldham’s grasp. 23
Before Oldham found him, Jamie worked on boats on the lower James River; most likely he subsequently returned to work aboard coastal vessels and ferries in the Tidewater area. The story is crowned by a notation in Jefferson’s Memorandum Book ten years later, signifying payment to James Hemings for finding an eyepiece, part of a surveying instrument. Jamie eventually returned to Monticello on good terms and apparently moved about freely, living in a twilight zone between freedom and slavery. One by one, the Hemings children maneuvered into this twilight zone in various ways and with varying degrees of success.


Jefferson returned to Monticello after completing his second term as president, satisfied with the westward expansion of the United States, the navy’s successful campaign against the Barbary pirates, and the election of James Madison. At home, he witnessed the near completion of a forty-year labor of love. Jefferson had begun building Monticello in 1768. Martha Wayles Jefferson never saw or enjoyed a completed house. Jefferson himself described the house as never even half done.

When Jefferson returned from Washington on March 17, 1809, he found a grand home, nearly complete. Some work on the porticoes was yet undone, but the interior was at last finished. The house is elegant and enchanting. The interior is ornamented by decorations inspired by a host of classical buildings. The exterior is framed by extensive gardens and a breathtaking vista of the Virginia countryside. Influences of Andrea Palladio and Pierre Rousseau are strongly represented, as Jefferson studied and savored creations of both. 24

Historian David McCullough reasons with unreasonableness as he describes Monticello:
On an inconvenient wilderness summit where no planter’s establishment had any business being—up where there was no river to transport the product of his acreage, or even water enough to meet everyday needs—he put a house that itself made no sense, not by conventional standards. Compared to other “great houses” of Virginia, it was costly foolishness, eccentric in the extreme, such overt unreasonableness. To top it off, there was the dome, for its builders the most difficult and troublesome part of the entire scheme, which served no useful purpose. It was conceit piled on top of conceit. Unless…
Unless you were Jefferson, an artist, a visionary, a revolutionary, a romantic, a man not like others, who was himself, as the poet John Masefield said of Shakespeare, “the rare unreasonable” who comes along only once in a very great while. 25

The grandeur of Monticello notwithstanding, Jefferson’s attention and talent were also drawn to his other possessions. Jefferson inherited land from John Wayles in 1773, including Poplar Forest, a plantation located in Bedford County, which was continuously farmed and expanded. In 1781, when the British army drove the Jeffersons from Monticello, it was Poplar Forest which served as refuge. The plantation is located eighty miles southwest of Monticello, approximately fifteen miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains. The slaves who lived and worked at Poplar Forest were primarily descendants of slaves that Peter Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson, or John Wayles owned in decades past.

In 1806, Jefferson began to build a house at Poplar Forest, using a design he intended for construction at Pantops, the plantation he gave his daughter Maria and her husband. Pantops was located near Monticello, but no house had been built there. The couple decided to live at Eppington, a plantation near the old Eppes estate, Bermuda Hundred. The house that eventually was built at Poplar Forest is octagonal in shape, the first of its kind in America. John Hemings performed and supervised much of the construction of the octagonal structure. 26

Jack McLaughlin ventured Jefferson’s reason for building a second home at age sixty-three.
He was a man who revealed to others only what he chose to; he remained fixedly concealed behind what we would call his defenses—observing all but seldom revealing. Only with his close family, in the confines of the walls of Monticello, did he allow himself to be seen, to reveal his needs for, and his capacity to show, love and affection. These private feelings were not for public display; therefore, as Jefferson’s fame grew during his presidency, and Monticello became increasingly an inn, his need to control his privacy intensified. His bedroom-library sanctuary, protected by locks and blinds, gave him a measure of control; when this was not enough, he built another house at Poplar Forest and periodically disappeared from Monticello, where he was on public exhibition, to the rural solitude of his Bedford plantation. 27

During the years that the Sage of Monticello lived in retirement, John Hemings built furniture for Monticello and the various outbuildings. Martha Jefferson Randolph’s children were particularly fond of the cabinets, tables, flower boxes, and such that he was requested to produce for them. While John was at Poplar Forest in 1825, Septima Randolph wrote to tell him of Jefferson’s declining health. Hemings wrote back to the eleven-year-old as follows:

Dear miss Septima your letter came to me on the 23th and hapey was I to embreasit to see you take it upon you self to writ to me and let me know how your grand Paw was Glad am i to hear that he is no worst dear I hope you ar well and all the famely give my Love to all your brothers Gorg with Randolph speculy I shoul gite don the house on tusday that is tining it we have all the Tarrste [terrace] to do yet which is one hundred feet Long and 22 feet 8 inches wide yesterday we just hade one Lode of the stuff brought home fore the gutters and that is 25 mile off where it came from I am in hope I shal be able to com home by the 25 of Nomember Ef Life Last
I am your obediente seirvant
John Hemmings 28

The source of John Hemings’ education is unknown. He certainly did not attend school. Only one other written artifact survives from John Hemings’ generation, a list of kitchen utensils, written by James Hemings. Neither is it known who taught James to read and write, but the possibilities in his case are much narrower. The most likely teacher was Martha Wayles Jefferson. It is probable that most of Betty Hemings’ children were literate. Many of Betty Hemings’ grandchildren were literate, though they violated Virginia law to become so. In contrast to Jefferson’s often-quoted words from his Notes on the State of Virginia, which question the intellect of blacks, the sage knew of and likely fostered their education at Monticello and Poplar Forest. 29


Lewis Woodson, the oldest of Sally Hemings’ grandchildren, was a well-educated man, although how he became so is unknown. As an adult, Lewis Woodson became an educator himself. Though he lived west of the Allegheny Mountains as a child, Virginia law prevailed there; the education of African Americans was prohibited. Woodsons repeatedly broke that law and other laws that degraded blacks.

Lewis Woodson’s proficiency and confidence in writing and the early age at which he became an educator suggest that he received some formal education. When Lewis was born, there was no school of consequence in Greenbriar County. In 1808, Reverend John McElhenney, D.D., moved to the county, establishing the Lewisburg Academy. An excellent and energetic educator, he also preached frequently in small churches in Greenbriar County and adjacent counties. His preaching style was plain, but the man was very popular. He frequented the Rader Church, located a few hundred yards from the Woodson farm on Brushy Ridge. No document connects Reverend McElhenney to the Woodson family. It is not likely that Lewis Woodson attended the Lewisburg Academy, as it would have been illegal. Lewis Woodson’s adult life had much in common with Reverend McElhenney’s, who may have been a good role model for Lewis. And, if Lewis Woodson did receive some early structured education, Reverend McElhenney is a likely, albeit undocumented, source. 30

The name Thomas Woodson was recorded in the 1820 U.S. Census as a free colored head of household along with five other African American residents of the county. Circumstances did not allow him to emulate his father’s intellectualism or John Hemings’ meticulous craftsmanship. But Thomas was interested in carpentry and gravitated toward fine horses, cattle, and a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Like his father, he added a dynastic quality to his family’s sense of direction and expectation.

Among the other five free colored household heads were Fanny Leach and Hannah Grant, so Thomas Woodson’s extended family represented half of the free colored population of the county. At the time, Thomas and Jemima had eight children. The younger six were Delila, Jemima, Frances, Thomas, James, and John P. Tom Woodson probably began to use the given name Thomas before 1820. Fanny Leach had named a son Thomas in 1807, so Tom may have formalized his name at that early date. Thomas Woodson was listed in the county tax records of 1820 as a white man. Inconsistency regarding the race of mulattos of light complexion was commonplace. No other Woodsons (black or white) lived in the county in 1820, in the prior decade, or in the decade to follow.

No record exists confirming that Thomas Woodson journeyed to visit his mother at Monticello while he lived in Greenbriar County. However, Thomas’ younger brothers Madison and Eston (who were born after Thomas left Monticello) later moved to the very same Ohio town where Thomas moved after leaving Greenbriar County, so there must have been contact between Thomas Woodson and Sally Hemings after he left Monticello. Communication most likely flowed through Jefferson’s Poplar Forest plantation, rather than through Monticello. Poplar Forest was seventy miles from Brushy Ridge and thus easily reachable on horseback. The ultimate question is, however, whether or not Thomas Jefferson visited his son. In 1818, during his only excursion west of the Allegheny Mountains, the seventy-five-year-old Jefferson visited the town of Ronceverte, located only five miles from Thomas Woodson’s home on Brushy Ridge. Did father and son connect in Greenbriar County? Another of Betty Hemings’ grandsons, Burwell, accompanied the ex-president on the mountainous journey. Did Burwell arrange a rendezvous? 31

According to the 1820 U.S. Census, Thomas Woodson’s mother-in-law Hannah Grant owned a slave named Sheldon Brock. Slave ownership by African Americans began soon after Africans were brought in chains to America in 1619. Initially, a slave code did not exist, and Africans were set free after seven years of servitude, just as white indentured servants were. In the seventeenth century a small percentage of free African Americans acquired land and slaves. Several free blacks owned plantations of substantial size in Northumberland County and in other counties in small numbers. In the decades prior to the Civil War a free black South Carolinian named William Ellison became a cotton gin manufacturer and used profits to buy land and slaves, becoming relatively wealthy. The number of African American slaveowners did not grow during the nineteenth century. None of the African Americans who obtained freedom by moving north, into the Midwest, or into Canada owned slaves, as it was illegal to purchase slaves in those regions. Although she had crossed the Allegheny Mountains, Hannah Grant remained within the boundaries of antebellum Virginia, where slavery was legal. Her ownership of Sheldon Brock, though as immoral as the ownership of blacks by whites, was similarly permitted under Virginia law. 32

Thomas Woodson began to work for or partnered with the Renick family, driving cattle from Ohio to the east through Greenbriar County. Some Renicks moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, the first capital of the state. The younger generation of many Greenbriar County families moved into southern Ohio and Kentucky. The technology of the Industrial Revolution was beginning to create opportunity in the East and the Midwest, but was slow to arrive in the mountainous communities of western Virginia.


1. Minnie S. Woodson, Woodson Source Book (Washington, D.C.: Privately printed, 1984), 1: quote by John S. Woodson (b. 1918).
2. Henry Morton Woodson, Historical Genealogy of the Woodsons and Their Connections (Columbia: E. W. Stephens, 1915), identification #88. This book documents the genealogy of the descendants of John Woodson, who came to Virginia in 1619. These Woodsons were white and were not the ancestors of Thomas Woodson and his descendants.
3. Julian Boyd, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 2 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950– ), 458: location and ownership of James River ferries.
4. Drury Woodson’s will, Cumberland County (VA) Will Book #2, 441.
5. Minnie S. Woodson, The Sable Curtain (Washington, D.C.: Privately printed, 1987), appendix 5: details on the western migration of the white Woodsons.
6. Obituary of the Reverend Lewis Woodson, Christian Recorder, vol. 16, no. 6 (Philadelphia: A.M.E. Church, February 7, 1878): citation of Rev. Lewis Woodson’s place and year of birth.
7. Deed of property purchased by James Kincaid, Greenbriar County Deed Book #4, 110–11.
8. James Hugo Johnston, Race Relations in Virginia and Miscegenation in the South, 1776–1860 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1970), 213–14.
9. Ibid., 193: from William H. Hening, Statutes at Large of Virginia (Richmond, 1823).
10. Ibid., 194.
11. Ibid., 208–9: from History of the City of Memphis by James D. Davis.
12. Ibid., 167: from William H. Hening, Statutes at Large of Virginia (Richmond, 1823).
13. Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson, an Intimate History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1974), 84.
14. John Chester Miller, Wolf by the Ears: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991), 241.
15. Andrew Lipscomb and Albert Bergh, eds., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 14 (Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), 267–71.
16. Ibid.
17. John Stuart, “Memorandum,” Appalachian Springs (Newsletter of the Greenbriar, West Virginia, Historical Society), November, 1998.
18. Hannah Grant’s will, Greenbriar County Deed Book #3, 160–61.
19. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson, 377.
20. James A. Bear and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books, vol. 2 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 1126: departure from Monticello.
21. Ibid., vol. 2, 1208–12: Jefferson’s return to and departure from Monticello.
22. Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life (New York: Holt, 1993), 565: “marry…the British fleet.”
23. Jack McLaughlin, Jefferson and Monticello (New York: Henry Holt, 1988), 113: “The Barbarity,” and 114: “I can readily excuse.”
24. Ibid., 331.
25. David McCullough, Introduction to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: A Photographic Portrait (New York: Monacelli Press, 1997).
26. McLaughlin, Jefferson and Monticello, 257, 264.
27. Ibid., 327.
28. Ibid., 123.
29. Letter from Hannah to Thomas Jefferson, November 15, 1818, provided by Lucia Cinder Stanton of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. Hannah (this was not Jemima’s mother and not a Hemings) was enslaved at the Poplar Forest plantation.
30. Marcellus Zimmerman, “The Old Lewisburg Academy,” Journal of the Greenbriar Historical Society, vol. 3, no. 1 (1975): 24.
31. William Laurance, “The Midland Trail,” The World and I, May 2000,143; Bear and Stanton, Jefferson’s Memorandum Books, vol. 3, 1346–47.
32. Michael P. Johnson and James L. Roark, Black Masters (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984), xi–xiii: description of William Ellison.

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