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Swinging both ways 
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Heinlein Nexus

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Post Re: Swinging both ways
Actually, Jim, it's Jefferson's brother who is the other suspect; he was in all the wrong places at the right times too...


Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:43 am
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Swinging both ways
The scant evidence reassembles itself every few years. I tend to disbelieve that TJ was the principal scoundrel for many reasons.

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Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:55 am
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Heinlein Nexus

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Post Re: Swinging both ways
I have the same difficulty.

On the other hand, she was apparently a dead-ringer, except for the shade, for her half-sister, jefferson's dead wife. If there was a draw, it must have been that.


Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:02 pm
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Post Re: Swinging both ways
Not to get into the debate because my recollections are fuzzy and the "map" has shifted a couple of times since the last serious reading I did on the topic, but I find TJ's absolute failure to ever mention her, to anyone, over 27+ years and in some 15,000 letters, telling.


Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:35 pm
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Heinlein Nexus

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Post Re: Swinging both ways
I do see the point, but then, we forget the tremendous divide between public and private back then, as well as my gut feeling that NO slaveowner ever mentioned the slaves he was "involved" with....


Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:41 pm
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Post Re: Swinging both ways
Possible, but that's one HELL of a firewall.

I don't mean that he never mentioned the specifics, or the nature of the relationship, but never once, in all that time and exposition, did he slip and mention her in some context? Not a passing reference to a household event or situation? When she was supposedly an important and central part of his life for much of that time? That kind of compartmentalization would be superhuman.


Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:48 pm
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NitroForum Oldster

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Post Re: Swinging both ways
I don't know. There are people in my life that are very important that I have never written about publicly or even privately. I could name names but that would negate my 2nd sentence.

The social pressure of the time may have made keeping that aspect of his life compartmentalized such a high priority that he was over kill on the topic.


Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:11 am
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Post Re: Swinging both ways
JohnBlack wrote:
I don't know. There are people in my life that are very important that I have never written about publicly or even privately.

Are they people that you have lived closely with for ~30 years, members of your immediate household? Regardless of the relationship? Could you write hundreds of thousands of words to every other person you know and *never* mention them, even in passing reference to holiday or household crisis or something?

I suppose it could be attributed to the mindset of a wealthy land/slave owner and a gentleman of the time, or a very strict compartmentalization on TJ's part - he's certainly the type with enough rigor of mind to do so.

But it still seems telling to me.


Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:17 am
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Heinlein Nexus

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Post Re: Swinging both ways
I still see Jim's point, but we forget that NOBODY talked about this stuff in the South. It was a compartmentalization that was reinforced by social taboos. But I do think she is mentioned in Jefferson's letters from Paris, if I'm not mistaken -- mostly, that she was there for his daughter.


Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:50 am
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Post Re: Swinging both ways
I live not far from Monticello and have visited several times. The foundation that runs it, the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, still denies the probability of TJ's parentage, but does not dismiss the possibility. However, there are strong genetic evidence that somebody in the Jefferson family fathered Sally's children.

An except from "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: A Brief Account" on the Society's official website:

    That a Jefferson-Hemings relationship could be neither refuted nor substantiated was challenged in 1998 by the results of DNA tests conducted by Dr. Eugene Foster and a team of geneticists. The study - which tested Y-chromosomal DNA samples from male-line descendants of Field Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson's uncle), John Carr (grandfather of Jefferson's Carr nephews), Eston Hemings, and Thomas C. Woodson - indicated a genetic link between the Jefferson and Hemings descendants. The results of the study established that an individual carrying the male Jefferson Y chromosome fathered Eston Hemings (born 1808), the last known child born to Sally Hemings. There were approximately 25 adult male Jeffersons who carried this chromosome living in Virginia at that time, and a few of them are known to have visited Monticello. The study's authors, however, said "the simplest and most probable" conclusion was that Thomas Jefferson had fathered Eston Hemings

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Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:53 pm
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