Was Thomas Jef­fer­son on the Duke lacrosse team?

The Saline Courier Weekend - - OPINION - ANN COUL­TER

While tear­ing down every­thing that’s great about our coun­try, the left has al­ways per­mit­ted us to cel­e­brate pa­tri­otic hol­i­days.

But this year, on the week that we com­mem­o­rate the un­veil­ing of the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, Nike yanked a Betsy Ross tribute sneaker off the mar­ket be­cause the Amer­i­can flag didn’t sit well with Colin Kaeper­nick.

Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-cortez, D-N.Y., is telling wild, prov­able lies about Amer­ica’s bor­der agents.

This Fourth of July, let’s look at the tac­tics used by the left to blacken the rep­u­ta­tions of Amer­i­can heroes. To wit, the lie that the prin­ci­pal au­thor of the dec­la­ra­tion, Thomas Jef­fer­son, fa­thered a child with his slave, Sally Hem­ings.

The charge was first lev­eled in 1802 by a muck­rak­ing, racist, al­co­holic jour­nal­ist, James Cal­len­der, who had served prison time for his par­tic­u­lar brand of jour­nal­ism. He had tried to black­mail Jef­fer­son into ap­point­ing him post­mas­ter at Rich­mond. When that failed, Cal­len­der re­tal­i­ated by pub­licly ac­cus­ing Jef­fer­son of fa­ther­ing the first-born son of Sally Hem­ings -- or, as the charm­ing Cal­len­der de­scribed her, “a slut as com­mon as the pave­ment.”

No se­ri­ous his­to­rian ever be­lieved Cal­len­der’s defama­tion -- not Du­mas Malone, Mer­rill Peter­son, Dou­glass Adair or John Ch­ester Miller. Not one. Their rea­son­ing was that there was ab­so­lutely no ev­i­dence to sup­port the the­ory and plenty to con­tra­dict it.

The Jef­fer­son-hem­ings myth was re­vived by fem­i­nists try­ing to el­e­vate the role of women in his­tory. Mod­ern ped­a­gogy re­quires that no pe­riod of our past be taught with­out turn­ing it into a lec­ture on racism, sex­ism or ho­mo­pho­bia.

Fawn M. Brodie got the ball rolling with her 1974 book, “Thomas Jef­fer­son: An In­ti­mate His­tory,” which used Freudian anal­y­sis to prove Jef­fer­son kept Hem­ings as his con­cu­bine and fa­thered all six of her chil­dren.

Brodie’s book was fol­lowed by Bar­bara Chase-ri­boud’s 1979 novel “Sally Hem­ings,” a work that imag­ines Hem­ings’ in­te­rior life. When CBS an­nounced plans to make a minis­eries out of the novel, Jef­fer­son schol­ars ex­ploded, de­nounc­ing the project as a pre­pos­ter­ous lie. The minis­eries was can­celed.

Fi­nally, a fe­male law pro­fes­sor, Annette Gordon-reed, wrote “Thomas Jef­fer­son and Sally Hem­ings: An Amer­i­can Con­tro­versy,” which ac­cused pro­fes­sional his­to­ri­ans of racism for re­fus­ing to de­fer to the “oral his­tory” of Hem­ings’ de­scen­dants.

She said “racism,” so the his­to­ri­ans shut up.

In 1998, a re­tired pathol­o­gist, Dr. Eu­gene Foster, per­formed a DNA test on the Y-chro­mo­somes of liv­ing male de­scen­dants of Sally Hem­ings, as well as those from Jef­fer­son’s pa­ter­nal un­cle. The Y-chro­mo­some is passed from male to male, so, if the story were true, Hem­ings’ male de­scen­dants ought to have the Y-chro­mo­some of the Jef­fer­son male blood­line.

What the DNA tests showed was that Hem­ings’ first­born son, Tom -the Tom whose al­leged pa­ter­nity was the ba­sis for Cal­len­der’s ac­cu­sa­tion -- was not re­lated to any Jef­fer­son male.

Foster’s study did es­tab­lish that Hem­ings’ last-born son, Es­ton, was the son of some Jef­fer­son male, but could not pos­si­bly say whether that was Thomas Jef­fer­son or any of the other 25 adult male Jef­fer­sons liv­ing in Vir­ginia at the time, eight of them at or near Mon­ti­cello.

For Es­ton to be Jef­fer­son’s son, we have to be­lieve that five years af­ter be­ing falsely ac­cused of fa­ther­ing a child with Hem­ings, Jef­fer­son

de­cided, What the heck? I may be pres­i­dent of the United States, but I should prove Cal­len­der’s slan­der true by fa­ther­ing a child with my slave!

It would be as if five years af­ter the Duke lacrosse hoax, one of the falsely ac­cused play­ers went out and ac­tu­ally raped a strip­per -- in fact, the same strip­per.

None­the­less, Na­ture mag­a­zine ti­tled its ar­ti­cle on the study “Jef­fer­son Fa­thered Slave’s Last Child.” Hun­dreds of news­pa­pers rushed to print with the lie, e.g.:

“Study: Jef­fer­son, Slave Had

Baby” -- Associated Press On­line, Nov. 1, 1998

“DNA Study Shows Jef­fer­son Fa­thered His Slave’s Child” -- Los An­ge­les Times, Nov. 1, 1998

“Jef­fer­son Ex­posed” -- Bos­ton Globe, Nov. 3, 1998

Two months af­ter these false “find­ings” had been broad­cast from ev­ery news out­let where English is spo­ken, Foster ad­mit­ted that the DNA had not proved Jef­fer­son fa­thered any chil­dren by Sally Hem­ings, merely that he could have fa­thered one child. Only eight news­pa­pers men­tioned the retraction.

The sci­ence alone puts the odds of Thomas Jef­fer­son fa­ther­ing Es­ton at less than 15% -- less than 4%, if all liv­ing Jef­fer­son males are con­sid­ered, not just the ones at Mon­ti­cello.

All other known facts about Jef­fer­son make it far less prob­a­ble still.

There are no let­ters, diaries or records sup­port­ing the idea that Jef­fer­son was in­ti­mate with Hem­ings, and quite a bit of writ­ten doc­u­men­ta­tion to re­fute it, in­clud­ing Jef­fer­son’s views on mis­ce­gena­tion and his fail­ure to free Hem­ings in his will, de­spite free­ing sev­eral other slaves.

In pri­vate let­ters, Jef­fer­son de­nounced Cal­len­der’s claim -- a de­nial made more cred­i­ble by his ad­mis­sion to a sex­ual in­dis­cre­tion that would have been more shame­ful at the time: his youth­ful se­duc­tion of a friend’s wife.

None of the pri­vate cor­re­spon­dence from any­one else liv­ing at Mon­ti­cello cred­ited the Hem­ings ru­mor, though sev­eral pointed to other likely sus­pects -- specif­i­cally Jef­fer­son’s brother, Ran­dolph.

Es­ton was born in 1808, when Thomas Jef­fer­son was 64 years old and in his sec­ond term as pres­i­dent. His brother Ran­dolph was 52, and Ran­dolph’s five sons were 17 to 24 years old. All of them were fre­quent vis­i­tors at Mon­ti­cello.

While Jef­fer­son was busy en­ter­tain­ing in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors in the main house, Ran­dolph would gen­er­ally re­tire to the slave quar­ters to dance and fid­dle. One slave, Isaac Granger Jef­fer­son, de­scribed Ran­dolph in his dic­tated mem­oirs thus: “Old Master’s brother, Mass Randall, was a mighty sim­ple man: used to come out among black peo­ple, play the fid­dle and dance half the night.”

There is not a sin­gle ac­count of Thomas Jef­fer­son fre­quent­ing slave quar­ters. Nor did Jef­fer­son take any in­ter­est in Hem­ings’ chil­dren. Ran­dolph did, teach­ing all of Hem­ings’ sons to play the fid­dle.

Ran­dolph was an un­mar­ried wid­ower when Es­ton was con­ceived. Af­ter Ran­dolph re­mar­ried, Hem­ings had no more chil­dren.

In re­sponse to DNA proof that only one of Hem­ings’ chil­dren was re­lated to any Jef­fer­son male -- and her first­born son was def­i­nitely

NOT fa­thered by any Jef­fer­son -the Thomas Jef­fer­son Foun­da­tion, the Mon­ti­cello As­so­ci­a­tion and the Na­tional Ge­nealog­i­cal So­ci­ety promptly an­nounced their of­fi­cial po­si­tions: Thomas Jef­fer­son fa­thered all six of Hem­ings’ chil­dren! Guided tours of Mon­ti­cello to­day in­clude the prov­ably false in­for­ma­tion that Jef­fer­son fa­thered all of Hem­ings’ chil­dren.

So now you, at least, know the truth -- not that it mat­ters in the slight­est.

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