Since Fawn Brodie’s Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (1974), or Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello (2008), popular belief holds that the third U.S. president begat a family with his slave. Holowchak is not the first disputant (see William Hyland’s In Defense of Thomas Jefferson, 2009), but he may be the most pugilistic. Taking Brodie and Gordon-Reed to task, Holowchak flays their works as weak arrangements of the several incontestably known facts about the enslaved woman in question, Sally Hemings, into a liaison with Jefferson. A philosopher by profession, Holowchak illustrates his points with syllogisms—he contests probabilities underlying DNA evidence which, supporters of a Hemings-Jefferson relationship assert, indicate that a relationship existed; and he pummels arguments favoring a connection for what he considers defects of logic. From his exercise in demolishing Brodie, Gordon-Reed, and others as fabulists, Holowchak switches to an approbation of Jefferson’s character, which he maintains casts the Hemings thesis in further doubt. His argument aside, Holowchak may irritate some in his references to the subtext of this historical controversy, race, yet he gains a hearing for defying conventional wisdom. --Gilbert Taylor
"Framing a Legend will be regarded as a monumental work in American history. It is brilliant, illuminating, and refreshing. Dr. Holowchak meticulously illustrates serious flaws in the ‘immorality of agenda-driven scholarship’ of popular scholars. This well-written volume is a must-read for all lovers of history."
—Cynthia Burton, author of Jefferson Vindicated
"A superb work that demonstrates its argument beyond question and, along the way, should mortify defenders of the Jefferson-Hemings thesis for their slipshod and even dishonest work."
—Forrest McDonald, distinguished professor of history emeritus, University of Alabama