It seems to me that the committee has a pretty weak argument for denying these people their “place at the table”, but because they enjoy the priviledge and power of being legitimate heirs, it doesn’t matter. Do you think they are right to excise the Hemings’ lineage from their elitist organization? Or are they just being racist snobs?
I’m sure they are snobs.
They may be racists.
I suspect that many of them, however, are just pissed off at the way in which a few of the Hemings clan have behaved and no amount of diplomacy or historical accuracy is going to change anything at this point.
Sounds like the reunions and luncheons are private affairs, then they can allow or restrict whoever they want. I think they have the right to exclude the Hemming’s line, but it sure sounds like they doing so because they are racist snobs.
(And, of course, the “committee” to review the situation is more likely to be dominated by people who had the interest to preserve the status quo while the people who thought it OK to letting the Hemings clan join probably are also the people who don’t take their own descent as a [sotto voce] serious matter [/sotto voce] and did not bother getting themselves placed on the committee.)
I am rather torn on this issue. At best, the official Jefferson heirs are being rather classless. But we white people tend to go to extremes to keep black people at an arm’s length. I think their argument has some merit, though. The DNA tests only prove that a male Jefferson fathered the Hemmings line. There were rumors that Thomas’ son or brother had an affair with Sally Hemmings. Coupled with the circumstantial evidence, though, it seems rather telling. While it’s reasonable, IMHO, to want categorical proof, they are treating the Hemmings rather shabbily.
I guess I don’t really see the need to be exclusionary on this issue. The amount of effort extended on this issue really makes me suspect of the intentions of the official heirs.
I too am rather torn on the issue. Even if we assume (the likely possibility) that the Hemmings clan is descended from Jefferson, we are stuck with this little triviality from the OP article:
The Monticello Organization seems to be making no bones about it – they are descendents of Tom and Martha, not Tom alone. In which case, they can reject the Hemmings crowd into their organization. It appears that the “Tom and Martha Organization” just doesn’t want to redefine itself into the “Tom and Martha or Sally Organization.”
I think the Monticello plantation is publicly owned, though. If the Hemmings crowd were denied the right to have their own family gathering at Monticello, or if they were not allowed to claim ancestry by Thomas Jefferson, well then, that would be outrageous and racist and all types of other things. If the Monticello Organization includes nephew, nieces, cousins, etc. of Thomas Jefferson (i.e. it is more concerned with relation to Thomas Jefferson rather than lineal descent from Thomas and Martha Jefferson), then there is weaker ground for the Hemmings crowd to be denied. If direct lineal descendents of Thomas Jefferson who were black were denied entry (for instance if Thomas Jefferson’s grandson married an African American woman), then the group would be racist. I see no evidence of that, so I will prevent myself from labeling any of these groups yet.
There was a very good discussion of the evidence pro and con the Hemmings claim back in December in the CCC forum. Unfortunately, it appears that a lot of it vanished during our recent diaspora, but there is still some good info left behind.
You make a good point, edwino. But it doesn’t seem to be the reason they gave for denying the clan. Plus, why would it take them so long to disqualify the Hemings’s fam based on that reason alone? If having Martha + Thomas “blood” was the criterion for being in this organization, there wouldn’t have been cause for 3 years worth of deliberation.
If Martha had died and Jefferson had remarried, I don’t think the Monticello Organization would be quibbling over whether Mary’s and What’s-Her-Name’s bloodlines should call each other “family”. It’s Jefferson’s blood, not the wife’s blood, that makes this group special.
Mary = Martha. Doh.
please help me understand something. The DNA suggests that the Hennings are descendants of a “male Jefferson” and the potential candidates are : Tom, his son or his brother
Now, if they were descendants of the brother, I understand why, then they could be excluded, but wouldn’t descendants of Tom’s son also be descendants of Tom??
or are they just focusing on the concept that it ‘might’ be the brother vs. a descendant?
The problem is that Jefferson had no sons (or grandsons?) with Martha, therefore, there will never be a direct link to Jefferson through the Y chromosome tracing.
On re-reading the article, I noticed that the most outspoken opponent makes reference to defaming Jefferson. In other words, his group has put Jefferson on a pedastal from which any reference to extra-marital relations would be a horrible insult. They are not likely to recognize any attempts to “humanize” Jefferson except as attempts to sully his honor. (I suspect that if we looked back through the last couple oif decades, we would discover that one or more of them has written articles or participated in discussions where they defended Jefferson on the grounds of his morality.)
That the extra-marital affair would have occurred with a (black) slave may or may not make it worse in their minds, but they appear to be most insulted by the notion that anyone would accuse Jefferson of being less than wholly, conventionally moral.
Given that we still do not have proof (however persuasive the arguments), I am not surprised at their actions.
From what I understand, the affair didn’t happen until after Martha was dead.
And another thing-wasn’t Sally Hemmings the half sister of Martha Jefferson?
Actually, I suspect the potential candidates are Tom, his nephew or his brother; Thomas Jefferson’s only legitimate son died in infancy.
It depends on which Y chromosome polymorphisms are being studied. Even for fast changing polymorphisms, there is very little way to tell Thomas Jefferson from his brother, his father, his nephew, his paternal grandfather, his paternal uncles, or his first cousins based on Y chromosome alone.
Sally Hemings had a Jefferson male as a partner. Which Jefferson male is entirely based on non-genetic detective work.