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Jefferson on Rushmore Y-chromosome studies indicate that Thomas Jefferson may very well have had children by the slave Sally Hemings.
Did Thomas Jefferson Father Slave Children?
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The first American presidential sex scandal never went on trial, but rumors have persisted to this day that President and founding father Thomas Jefferson had an illicit relationship with his slave mistress, Sally Hemings, that bore him children. Jefferson never responded publicly to this attack on his character nor denied the accusations.

The circumstantial evidence is suggestive. Jefferson, who traveled extensively for long periods, always happened to be in residence nine months before the birth of each of Sally Hemings's seven children. Some of Hemings's children were said to bear a striking resemblance to Jefferson. And in an 1873 interview, Sally's fourth son Madison stated that his mother had been Jefferson's "concubine," and that he and his siblings were the president's children.

The Y chromosome keeps its family secrets and now, nearly two centuries later, DNA evidence has unequivocally linked a male descendant of Sally Hemings to the house of Thomas Jefferson.

To a geneticist, the obvious solution to resolve questions of paternity going back generations is to compare Y chromosomes from living descendants of the father in question. Because the Y chromosome is passed virtually intact from father to son to grandson and so on down the line, it traces the father's male side of the family tree.

List with Sally Jefferson's slave records listing the names of Sally Hemings and her sons.

If Jefferson fathered a child with Hemings, all his male descendants should carry a nearly identical copy of his Y chromosome. Investigators tracked down living male descendants of Hemings's sons and compared their Y-chromosome DNA to that from male descendants of the president's paternal uncle, Field Jefferson. (Thomas Jefferson's only legitimate son by his wife Martha died in infancy.)

The story the DNA told was that the descendant of Eston Hemings, Sally's youngest son, had the same genetic signature as the male descendants of Field Jefferson. But the descendants of Thomas Woodward, Sally's first son, did not share a genetic signature in common with Thomas Jefferson. The DNA data clearly shows that one of Sally's sons, Eston, born during the president's second term in office, was a Jefferson offspring. What the data cannot resolve definitively is whether Thomas Jefferson or another male relative on his father's side of the family was Eston Hemings's father.

It is noteworthy that the same Y chromosome type existed just 20 miles away with Thomas Jefferson's brother Randolph and his five sons. The historical records indicate that Randolph and his sons occasionally spent time at Monticello, the presidential residence, but the trail of evidence disappears there, leaving Thomas Jefferson as still the most likely father of Eston Hemings Jefferson.

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