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How old was Sally Hemings when she slept with Jefferson?


Sally Hemings was an enslaved woman who had a complex and controversial relationship with the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. She was born in 1773 and was owned by Jefferson’s father-in-law. When Jefferson became a widower, he took Hemings to France to serve as a domestic servant. There, they established a sexual relationship that continued when they returned to Virginia. The question of how old Hemings was when Jefferson started sleeping with her has been the subject of debate and controversy for many years. In this blog post, we will explore the evidence and attempt to answer the question.

Evidence regarding Sally Hemings’ age

The exact date when Jefferson and Hemings’ sexual relationship began is not known. However, Jefferson’s own writings provide some clues as to when it may have started. In a letter to a friend in 1788, Jefferson wrote that he had “a girl who would have been a slave if she had not been mine.” This girl was almost certainly Hemings, who was 15 years old at the time.

Another piece of evidence that sheds light on Hemings’ age is a receipt from 1789 in which Jefferson bought “1 pr. [pair of] coarse shoes for Sally.” This suggests that Hemings was still a child at this time, as she was not yet wearing adult shoes.

In addition to these pieces of evidence, the memories of Hemings’ descendants also provide some clues as to how old she was when she started sleeping with Jefferson. Madison Hemings, one of Hemings’ sons, stated in an 1873 interview that his mother was “a mere child” of 14 or 15 when her relationship with Jefferson began.

The controversy surrounding Hemings and Jefferson’s relationship

The controversy surrounding Hemings and Jefferson’s relationship stems from the fact that Hemings was enslaved and Jefferson was a powerful white man. The power dynamic between them was inherently unequal, and many have argued that it is impossible for Hemings to have given true consent to their relationship.

Furthermore, Hemings’ relationship with Jefferson was not a romantic one in the modern sense. Rather, it was a relationship that was shaped by the power relations of slavery. Hemings did not have the ability to say no to Jefferson’s advances, and her sexual relationship with him was likely a means of survival in a system that denied her autonomy and subjected her to almost unimaginable violence.

In recent years, there has been renewed interest in Hemings’ story, and many have argued that her relationship with Jefferson should be seen as a form of sexual violence rather than a consensual relationship.


In conclusion, there is no doubt that Sally Hemings was very young when she began her sexual relationship with Thomas Jefferson. Although the exact age at which their relationship began is not known, the evidence suggests that Hemings was a child of 14 or 15 when she and Jefferson became sexual partners. The controversy surrounding their relationship is complex and multifaceted, but it is clear that Hemings’ was not able to give true consent in the modern sense. Instead, her relationship with Jefferson must be understood in the context of slavery and the power dynamics that shaped the lives of enslaved people in the United States.


How white were Sally Hemings children?

Sally Hemings was an enslaved woman who lived on Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello. It is believed that Jefferson and Hemings had a romantic relationship that resulted in the birth of six children. The question of how white Sally Hemings children were is a complex one, as the answer involves both genetics and social identity.

All of Sally and Thomas’s children were seven-eighths white with light skin. This is because Thomas Jefferson was their father, and he was a white man. The children inherited his white genes, and because Sally Hemings was also of mixed race (her mother was a white woman and her father was a black man), the children ended up being predominately white in appearance.

Despite their physical appearance, the children were still considered enslaved because their mother was an enslaved woman. This highlights the harsh reality of the “one-drop rule,” which stated that anyone with any amount of African ancestry was considered Black and therefore subject to enslavement in the United States.

While the genetics of Sally Hemings children led them to have white skin, their social identity was more complicated. Back then, societal norms and prejudices were such that light-skinned people of African descent faced many challenges. Many people who could pass as white chose to identify as such in order to avoid the discrimination and limited opportunities that came with being considered Black.

Harriet and Beverly, two of Sally Hemings children, chose to live their lives this way. They did not want to live with the stigma of being Black and formerly enslaved people. They started their new lives by moving to places where no one knew them, and they identified as white people.

While Sally Hemings children were genetically seven-eighths white and of light skin, their social identity was more complicated due to the realities of racism and discrimination during their time. Despite their ability to pass for white, it is important to remember their Black heritage and the circumstances that led to their existence.

How many biological children did Thomas Jefferson have?

Thomas Jefferson was a prominent figure in American history. He was one of America’s Founding Fathers and the third President of the United States. He was married to Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, a widow, in 1772. The couple had six children together, but only two daughters, Martha and Mary, survived to adulthood.

Jefferson’s first child, a daughter named Jane, was born in 1774 but died soon after. Their next child, a son named John, was born in 1775 but died within hours of his birth. The couple’s third child, also named Jane, was born in 1777 but died at the age of three.

In 1779, the Jeffersons welcomed their fourth child, a daughter named Mary, who was affectionately known as Polly. Their fifth child, Lucy Elizabeth, was born in 1780, followed by their sixth and final child, another daughter named Lucy Elizabeth, in 1782. Unfortunately, Lucy Elizabeth died of whooping cough in 1784.

Of the Jeffersons’ six children, only Martha and Mary survived to adulthood. Martha, also known as Patsy, eventually married and had children of her own. Mary, also known as Polly, never married and lived with her father at Monticello for most of her life.

Despite the loss of four of their children, Jefferson remained devoted to his family. His relationship with his daughters was especially important to him, and he remained close with them throughout his life. Though he never had any biological grandchildren, he had a close relationship with the children of his daughter Martha and was considered a loving and supportive grandfather.

Did Jefferson love Sally Hemings?

The question of whether or not Thomas Jefferson loved Sally Hemings, one of his slaves, has been a subject of much debate and speculation. Jefferson’s relationship with Hemings was complex, as he owned her and the other Hemings family members who were enslaved at Monticello. There is no clear evidence to prove if Jefferson loved her romantically, but there are certainly indications that suggest that he had a deep affection for her.

Sally Hemings was a mixed-race woman who was the half-sister of Jefferson’s late wife, Martha. Hemings was brought to Monticello at a young age and was later employed as a personal servant to Jefferson’s wife. When Jefferson became a widower, Hemings became his concubine, bearing at least six children by him. While there is no concrete evidence to prove that Jefferson loved Hemings romantically, he did arrange his life so that she was in it all the time — basically, for 38 years.

The oral history of the Hemings family talks about how Jefferson felt about her. One of Madison’s granddaughters said Mr. Jefferson loved her dearly, but Sally didn’t talk about how she felt about him. This granddaughter was quoted as saying that Jefferson became attached to Hemings during his time in Paris, where he found himself enchanted by her mother’s beauty, and that he continued to be drawn to her daughter.

There is also evidence to suggest that Jefferson’s children by Hemings were treated exceptionally well. He kept them at Monticello and gave them access to an education that was virtually unheard of for enslaved people at the time. Some have argued that this treatment was an expression of his love and affection for Hemings and her children.

However, others have suggested that Jefferson’s relationship with Hemings was not a product of love but of exploitation, power, and privilege. As a slaveholder, Jefferson had complete control over the lives of his enslaved workers, including the Hemings family. Moreover, it is impossible to determine the true nature of their relationship as Hemings was enslaved, and any relationship she had with Jefferson was therefore fundamentally unequal and coercive.

While there is no definitive answer to whether or not Jefferson loved Sally Hemings, the available evidence suggests that he had at the very least a deep affection for her. What’s important to remember, however, is that their relationship was fundamentally unequal and exploitative, and Jefferson’s position of power as a white slaveholder cannot be overstated.

Did Sally Hemings live in the White House?

Sally Hemings was an enslaved woman who lived in Virginia during the late 18th and early 19th century. She was owned by Thomas Jefferson, who was a Founding Father of the United States and the third President of the country. Hemings was with Jefferson from the late 1780s until his death in 1826. During this time, she bore six children, but only four of them survived infancy.

Despite being enslaved, Hemings had a relatively privileged position within Jefferson’s household. She was taken to France by Jefferson when he was serving as an ambassador, and she learned to speak French there. Hemings was also allowed to negotiate with Jefferson for better conditions for herself and her children. It is believed that Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Hemings, and he is known to have fathered her six children. However, the nature of their relationship has been and still is a topic of controversy and debate among historians.

As for the question of whether Hemings lived in the White House, the answer is no. She did not live in the White House, which is the official residence of the President of the United States. However, Hemings did live with Jefferson in other residences, including Monticello, his primary plantation in Virginia, as well as his other homes in Virginia and in Paris, France.

It is worth noting that during the years when Jefferson was President of the United States, Hemings did bear three of his children. Jefferson was elected President in 1800 and served two terms until 1809. During this time, Hemings lived primarily at Monticello, which was 114 miles from the White House. There is no evidence to suggest that Hemings ever visited the White House, although there are records of her presence in Washington D.C. with Jefferson and his family.

While Sally Hemings did not live in the White House, she had a significant relationship with Thomas Jefferson, who fathered her children while he was both a private citizen and the President of the United States. Hemings’ story is a complicated one, reflecting the complex power dynamics and social norms of her time.