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In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal Hardcover – June 9, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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“This is a well-written book that draws on new discoveries and previously unnoted details about Thomas Jefferson's life and relationships. Hyland peels back the rumors to rehabilitate one of our most cherished presidents. In the process, the author challenges others who have sloppily tried to fit a round peg in a square hole.” ―Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen
“The case [Hyland] makes is persuasive and in my view well presented, and it's a historically important project.” ―Peter Rodman, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and author of Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush
“[Hyland's] approach to the alleged Jefferson-Hemings relationship is ingenious and he has made what I judge to be an irrefutable case.” ―Professor Forrest McDonald, History Professor (Emeritus), University of Alabama, and National Endowment for the Humanities, 16th Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities, author of The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson and The American Presidency: An Intellectual History
“Hyland's well-written book is a breath of fresh air.… In the courtroom where undocumented speculation and hearsay are not allowed, Jefferson will receive a fair trial.” ―W. McKenzie Wallenborn, M.D., president of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society and Clinical Professor (Ret.), University of Virginia School of Medicine
“As a practicing civil litigator and former prosecutor, Hyland casts a critical lawyer's eye over the two-hundred-year old question of whether Thomas Jefferson had a romantic, sexual liaison with his servant Sally Hemings. Using what would be acceptable in a court of law as his standard for accuracy, Hyland painstakingly separates revisionist ideology from historical accuracy. In page after page, Hyland dissects just how evidence was manipulated to reach a predetermined yet utterly false verdict of guilty. Thankfully, Hyland's book once and for all---in a convincingly unemotional fashion---clearly establishes that not Thomas Jefferson, but rather his brother Randolph or one of Randolph's sons, was the father of Sally Hemings's children.” ―John Works Jr., former president of the Monticello Association
“A well-written and provocative lawyer's brief challenging the popular story that Thomas Jefferson fathered a child by his household slave Sally Hemings. Hyland has assembled a mass of forensic evidence to refute the saga much favored by revisionist historians and novelists, who were building on the testimonies of Jefferson's political enemies from his own lifetime. Like the litigation attorney he is, Hyland argues a formidable case before a jury---readers trying to reach a verdict.” ―Peter Grose, former executive editor at The New York Times and Foreign Affairs and author of Operation Rollback: America's Secret War Behind the Iron Curtain
“Hyland's book is well researched with material from many sources. It is a powerful insight.… As assistant to Dr. Foster, the DNA study coordinator, I can reveal that the DNA proved only that the Hemings descendant had Jefferson DNA that supported their oral family claim that they descended from a ‘Jefferson uncle,' meaning Randolph Jefferson.” ―Herbert Barger, Jefferson family historian
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Top Customer Reviews
I find it ironic, therefore, that this book would not only mention "John Adams" as evidence of how the Hemings scandal has been absorbed by popular culture (indeed, one of the closing scenes finds Jefferson on his deathbed, with a weeping Sally at his side) but also go about debunking many myths represented in most history books as "fact." Everyone knows Sally Hemings was Martha Jefferson's half sister, right? To my astonishment, there is no actual evidence! It was inferred by later biographers hoping to give a reason for his potential interest, along with the belief that Sally resembled Martha.
Discovering that led me to wonder what else history books were throwing at us without conclusive evidence. Having finished reading this volume, the answer is "a lot." All the points it raises are valid. Many of them have been argued against before, but certain evidence has been all but ignored that deserves to be brought to the forefront (namely, Jefferson's horrendous health, including frequent, crippling migraines, which anyone would admit would hamper sexual shenanigans).Read more ›
Hyland brings witnesses for and against the defendant, and discusses their significance to the case; their testimony being their written statements (or books) on the subject of Jefferson's character and actions. Most interesting and surprising are those allied against Jefferson. There is an apparent concerted effort and collusion between an eminent Jeffersonian history scholar at the university Jefferson founded, together with individuals at the foundation responsible for the maintenance of Jefferson's home and other noted history and law professors, all intent on denigrating Jefferson's legacy and his effect on our nation for reasons not quite clear.
There is some allusion to an effort at moral equivalency with the timing of the Jefferson/Hemings dna release coinciding with the Clinton impeachment. Then there are those who are apparently intent on making Jefferson the posterboy for racial inequality, mysogeny, and miscegenation and making up history, or dismissing documented history, to effect their ends.Read more ›
A major agenda (in the name of slavery research) was launched in Oct. 1992 by Professor Peter Onuf, UVA History Department (his history chair sponsored by Monticello), and is covered in "Jefferson Legacies." Lucia Stanton, senior Monticello researcher, states on pages 173-174, "Oral traditions originating with the children of Sally Hemings strongly support the connection, (her earlier statement that Fawn Brodie revived the old James Callender claim that suggested a romantic claim). The next year, 1993 Dianne Swann-Wright was hired by Monticello to head the Getting Word Project (10 prominent African-Americans including NAACP Chairman, Julian Bond). Mrs Swann-Wright was appointed Chairman of their study group that has been charged with biased and one sided reporting and with a preconceived opinion on how the study should come out. One Monticello senior employee reported (slapping down a document on the table)........."NOW WE HAVE HIM"..........it's all covered in the book.
My own copy of an Eston Hemings family letter states the long believed oral family claim that he descended from "a Jefferson uncle or nephew." This is a reference to Mr. Jefferson's much younger brother, Randolph and his sons, who came among the slaves and danced and played the fiddle until late night hours.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thomas jefferson had about 6 migraines during his life time. He was able to function sexually. Her age was 15 in france which was legal. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
No scandal here. Certainly no love story. After all the evidence is in, it appears that some Hemings' descendants may be related to some descendants of the Jefferson family,... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Marvelous Mal
A balanced and thorough explanation of the Jefferson-Hemings controversy including a detailed analysis of the DNA results pointing to Jefferson's younger brother.Published on February 8, 2014 by W. Hyland
Hyland makes a decent case that the lines of argument writers like Annette Gordon-Reed and Fawn Brodie use to "prove" Jefferson had a relationship with Sally Hemings are... Read morePublished on November 5, 2013 by Gene Rhea Tucker
For a lawyer to outline how this paternity allegation would be thrown out of court for numerous reasons really paints a clearer picture of what is really going on with the... Read morePublished on October 4, 2013 by Mark L
After many written and media offerings that carry obvious bias or work to prove pre-concieved conclusions, we have a book that is well researched, objective, and honest toward one... Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by Quentin M. Thomas
Great Book! Opened up a whole new possibility for me. I was very impressed with his research. Highly recommended for anyone seeking the truth.Published on May 29, 2013 by Monica Hess