The Slaves of Jefferson: In The First Person

Although Jefferson's personal views about slavery in his own eyes were morally wrong but he could do nothing because he had no support. Jefferson did not talk about slavery that much knowing if he would it would lower his chances of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was the second largest slave owner in Albermarle County. We are going to tell you in the words of Issac Jefferson, Wormey Hughes, and Sally Hemmings, how it was to be a slave of Thomas Jefferson.


I am Sally Hemmings, slave. I am one of Jefferson's. I have a number of children by Jefferson I have both a public and private life. My public life began in September 1802 when James Thompson Callender, a disappointed office-seeker , published an account of a liaison between the president and his slave in the Virginia newspaper. At least two of my children were reported as saying that Jefferson was their father, and this belief has passed from generation to generation of my descendants to the present day. My son Madison Hemmings described himself as the son of Jefferson, stated that I had become Jefferson's "concubine" in France in the late 1780's. Our daughter Martha Randolph was always strongly rupudiated published versions of the story, and my granddaughter Ellen, who lived at Monticello until the year before Jefferson died, considered such a relationship. Jefferson never really considered my children to be his kids. At least he never claimed to help them in any way.


I was a slave of Jefferson I worked for the Monticello slave labor force. My name is Isaac Jefferson . My father The Great George Jefferson the only slave to reach from being a labor slave to being a overseer of Monticello . My mother Ursula was one of Jefferson's servants she was one of the few trusted slaves.

Myself I was trained as a blacksmith then My master at the time sent me to Philadelphia to learn tinsmithing which I learned to make pepper boxes tin boxes. Then I got more advanced and I learned to make tin cups. Mainly that was my life being a blacksmith. In 1847, I was then a free man and I continued to work as a blacksmith. Even through Im a free man it really does not seem to be I still get looked upon different then others and treated just like I was a slave again.


I live in Monticello,I was born in 1781 . I worked as a nailery from age 13 years old to age 21 . Then Jefferson put me to work in the garden , I planted seeds bulbs and trees. I had to work all day till the suns goes down, It reallys gets to you the hot sun beating down on you for hours and hours the highlight of the day is when you get to eat then back to the same thing day after day.Jefferson trusted me well he also said that I do my job very well. I was considered to be one of the most trusted workers they had. I was lucky compared to most of my people it surely helps when your master likes you. My master died in 1826 I had to dig the grave that my master was layed upon. When my master died I was sad because he was the master that treated me well or at least even tried to care. I was later on free by Jefferson's daughter Martha Randolph . Even though I am free man Jefferson recommended me to still work for the members of the Monticello family so I did.

Please visit this related web site: African-American Women On-line Archival Collections, Special Collections Library, Duke University.

John M.
Heather H.
Holly H.

George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World

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