National Center for Constitutional Studies
|"A primary object.should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing.than.communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?"
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There is no greater celebration in America than the Fourth of July. It represents the birth of liberty in America. It represents the document and the philosophical thinking behind our Founders’ quest for the ultimate purpose of government. It recalls to our memory the very reasons for our hope in America. It is a joyous occasion. It was an occasion foreseen by John Adams in these words:
Of course, the credit for authoring the Declaration of Independence goes to Thomas Jefferson, America’s Philosopher of Freedom. When it comes to the story of America and its formula for freedom and happiness of mankind, no one is looked to more than Jefferson. He is freedom’s trailblazer. It is perhaps for this reason, that Thomas Jefferson is the most vilified by the enemies of freedom. It was so in his day and it remains so today, even at a more feverish pitch.
"…Personal Attacks Rarely Matched in Presidential History…"
It is not the intent of this letter to revisit the details of the myths perpetrated against Jefferson in his day. Readers are referred to two excellent works written by Andrew M. Allison: The Real Thomas Jefferson, Chapter 18, "A Season of Slander", pp. 227-235, a book available from NCCS, and a reprint, also available from NCCS, of a November 1983 article in the Freeman Digest entitled, "Did Jefferson Have a Slave Mistress?"
Because of the similarity of tactics used today to those used in Jefferson’s day, I give the following quote from the first source. James T. Callender was a journalist and an unrelenting critic of of Jefferson’s administration. When he was refused the appointment to become a postmaster, he turned his pen against President Jefferson himself.
A careful reading of this paragraph will bring out the identical tactics which motivate attacks on Jefferson today – an unquenchable lust for power, the availability of print media for dissemination, lack of serious and objective investigation, purely fabricated stories, intentional ignoring of the facts when presented, sensationalizing ideas that play on the weaknesses of people, and a complete disregard for honesty and integrity.
There is one glaring difference today, however. It is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that evil will be called good and good evil. This tale of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings has been told and retold so many times it is now in our revisionist history books, taught in schools to young people, and presumed by many to be true. The ultimate hypocrisy of the whole thing is that this "truth" has been used as of late by those defending President Clinton to justify his adulterous and extramarital activities as though to say it is all right. The American people have apparently agreed.
"Jefferson Fathers Slave’s Last Child"
These words headlined an article in the issue of Nature, a respected British scientific journal, dated November 5, 1998. It reported DNA research headed by Dr. Gene Foster apparently proving once and for all that Callender’s charges were true. As with most periodicals, the issue was released about a week before its date, which put it out to the world and the mainstream press several days before the November 3rd Congressional elections. The much-hope-for route of Congressional and State Democrats who were supportive of President Clinton, even in light of his extramarital affairs, never materialized.
Last minute election tactics which give no time for reasoned rebuttal are favorite tactics of skilled politicians and their consultants. Enough time has gone by now and enough facts have come to light that we may now discuss the DNA study and its real conclusions.
Question 1: What is DNA?
Answer: Deoxyribonucleic acid: an extremely long macromolecule that is the main component of chromosomes and is the material that transfers genetic characteristics in all life forms. The Y chromosomal DNA is carried only in male descendants and provides the best test of descendancy. While DNA studies continue to be improved, they have proven incredibly helpful and accurate in identifying family relationships and generational descendancy.
Question 2: What is necessary to show a relationship between two people of different generations?
Answer: The DNA from both individuals is necessary to draw positive conclusions; however, some general but non-conclusive assumptions may be made with DNA from descendants of both individuals. As an interesting side note, because genetic make-up is passed by DNA from one generation to another, more and more DNA scientists are concluding that Darwinist natural-selection-evolution is impossible. DNA research proves we are not evolving and never have!
Question 3: Who else was involved in this study?
Answer: Besides Dr. Foster, a Mrs. Winifred Bennett, whose idea it was for the study in the first place, and Herbert Barger, a Jefferson Family Historian for 25 years.
Question 4: When was the study made?
Answer: Blood was collected from the male-line descendants of Thomas Jefferson’s paternal uncle Field Jefferson (descendants of the Peter Carr, Jefferson’s nephew), Thomas Woodson, the first child of Sally Hemings (whom Callender accused Jefferson of fathering), Eston Hemings Jefferson, Sally’s last son (who claimed Thomas Jefferson as his father.) and some controlled donors, delivered it to Oxford, England on December 13, 1997 and received the results back June 18, 1998.
Question 5: Why was no blood collected from male descendants of Thomas Jefferson himself?
Answer: Thomas Jefferson has no male descendants.
Question 6: Why were not other male descendants of the Jefferson family studied?
Answer: Mr. Barger, the Jefferson Family Historian, made Dr. Foster aware of Thomas' younger brother, Randolph Jefferson, who lived about 20 miles away, and his five sons. One of these sons, Isham, was "reared" by Jefferson. Dr. Foster responded by saying "Thanks very much for the information about Isham and Randolph Jefferson. This is exactly the kind of information that will have to be considered if it turns out that there is Jefferson Y-chromosomal DNA in Hemings descendants". After the results came in, Dr. Foster never showed any interest in these other Jeffersons.
Question 7: What were the results of the DNA tests?
Answer: As Mr. Barger writes, "The simple fact is that the DNA eliminated a long held belief in the oral history of the Woodson Family that they were grandchildren of Thomas Jefferson by having NO match between Jefferson and Woodson. The Carr brothers were also eliminated by NO match. Now, there was ‘SOME’ Jefferson/Eston Hemings match, (just ‘SOME’ NOT Thomas), so in the absence of NO other Jefferson to suspect, guess who is left to blame...TOM."
Question 8: Was there any attempt to find any other explanation?
Answer: No. Even before the results were in, Mr. Barger asked Dr. Foster to have a meeting with him after the results were in so that he could share some historical information (such as the existence of other Jeffersons in the area) which might have bearing on the results. Dr. Foster refused to hold the meeting. Mr. Barger writes, "Dr. Foster and Nature negotiated (yes negotiated) for a headline to the simple DNA findings and finally, the all damning and misleading headline in Nature on November 5, 1998, ‘Jefferson Fathered Slave's Last Child’ appeared."
Question 9: What about the claim that some of Sally Hemings’ children were each born nine months after President Jefferson visited Monticello?
Answer: Again, Mr. Barger writes, "I have provided this information on Randolph and also have additional information on Thomas's first cousin, once removed, George Jefferson, Jr., educated by Thomas, his agent and manager in Richmond and who must have come to Monticello to discuss business when Thomas came home. Could this possibly explain why Sally became pregnant only when Thomas was at Monticello. Yet, some refuse to acknowledge the importance of all the above information. I feel this information is as plausible as any other oral or documented evidence presented. I'll admit it does ‘muddy the water’ a bit to know of seven other Jeffersons, any one of which could have fathered Eston Hemings…. My study indicates to me that Thomas Jefferson was NOT the father of Eston or any other Hemings child. The study indicates that Randolph is possibly the father of Eston and the others. Randolph, named for his maternal Randolph family, was a widower and between wives when shortly after his wife's death, Sally became pregnant with her first child, Harriet. It had been almost six years since arriving at Monticello from Paris, thus, we can see that there was no ‘long term love affair’ between Thomas and Sally. She continued having children until 1808 when Eston was born. Randolph Jefferson would marry his second wife the next year, 1809, and would have a child, John, born about 1810. Three of Sally Hemings' children, Harriet, Beverly and Eston (the latter two not common names), were given names of the Randolph family who had earlier owned Randolph's plantation, ‘Snowden’, and who had received it as his inheritance. Randolph was invited by Thomas to come to Monticello to visit him and Randolph's twin sister, who had arrived one day earlier. This was in August 1807, exactly nine months prior to Eston's birth. Randolph was also present at Monticello on May 27, 1808, exactly six days after Eston's birth on May 21, 1808. He had probably come to see his son, Eston. Thomas even drafted Randolph's will on that date." ;
Question 10: Has Dr. Foster and Nature retracted the headline and assumptions which have since proven to be embarrassingly wrong?
Answer: Dr. Foster wrote to the New York Times on November 9, 1999 saying it is "regrettable that (our)statement has been transmuted into assertions that all doubt had been removed…. The genetic findings my collaborators and I reported do not prove that Thomas Jefferson was the father of one of Sally Hemings’ children. We never made that claim. Nor do we believe that the Y-chromosome type we found in Hemings’ descendent occurs only in the members of the Jefferson family…. This study could not prove anything conclusive." In its January, 1999 issue, Nature admitted that the DNA studies it published in November prove nothing at all. The difficulty is that the sensation is over and the mainstream press is just not interested in the truth.
Question 11: Where can one obtain further research on this subject?
Answer: Make sure you obtain the NCCS publications referred to earlier. Also, Mr. Barger’s letter on the subject together with links to over a dozen other sites can be found at www.angelfire.com/va/TJTruth/
Douglass Adair, one of the most highly respected historians of our era, concluded after examining all of the evidence on this matter which has now come to light: "Today, it is possible to prove that Jefferson was innocent of Callender's charges."
One of the recently discovered documents to which Adair referred was a letter written by the nineteenth-century biographer Henry Randall, recounting a conversation at Monticello between himself and Jefferson's oldest grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph. In this conversation Randolph confirmed …that "there was not the shadow of suspicion that Mr. Jefferson in this or any other instance had commerce with female slaves."
Allow Jefferson to Defend His Own Character
Jefferson wrote to his nephew, Peter Carr, these thoughts on the value of absolute virtue and honesty:
Don’t Forget NCCS During The Summer Time!
Thank you all for you support in what we are doing. The summertime seems to be a time when people are thinking of other things but the teaching and the mailings and the support must keep going on. If you haven’t helped us in a while please see if you can this month. We can do a lot with a little, but we do need a little!
Earl Taylor, Jr.
PS. NCCS has received many inquiries concerning the latest media reports on Thomas Jefferson. If you would like extra copies of this newsletter to send to friends, relatives or public officials please ask for extra copies. If you prefer an e-mail copy, send us your e-mail address with your order or donation.