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Customer Review

54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical autobiography -- but fascinating, May 29, 2008
This review is from: Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (Paperback)
This brief "autobiography" is not a self-promotion, an expose, or a book designed for the purpose of keeping the reader turning the pages in suspense. In fact, it has very little personal information about Jefferson or his life outside of the political happenings in which he was involved concerning the American and French revolutions. Certainly, there is no mention of his black lover, Sally Hemings, and for that matter little mention of his "real" family. Nonetheless it was to me a gripping tale that kept me reading, as I felt privy to the inner workings of the Continental Congress and the French Revolution from an influential American who was on the spot (and in the midst) of the events as they occurred. Perhaps, as a direct descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, of which Jefferson was the author, I had a natural interest in this book. But I think not, as it had been sitting gathering dust on my shelf as I read lots of classic American fiction that I thought would be more rewarding. Despite (because of?) its dry, blunt, intelligent but factual style, the debates and events are center stage, with Jefferson's occasional but not obtrusive opinions being much appreciated. My great experience reading Jefferson's brief book led me to pick up W.E.B. DuBois' The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade, which covers some of the same ground although from a different perspective, and is equally rewarding.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 24, 2010 1:10:01 PM PDT
glpjr says:
Sally Hemmings isn't mentioned in Jefferson's autobiography because it is VERY unlikely the alleged incident ever occurred. It has yet to be proved that Jefferson was involved with Hemmings and, given Jefferson's character and demeanor toward Blacks, it is highly unlikely it did occur. What has been proven is that someone in Jefferson's bloodline did father a child with Hemmings. Given the character of Jefferson's brother, it is far more likely than he was the father than the much more moral Jefferson. However, in the ongoing effort to demonize our Founding Fathers, it is goshe to denigrate them with any available, ignorantly based allegation. The truth need not apply.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2011 1:55:35 PM PDT
Chemiker says:
You are quite correct with respect to the Hemmings fable. However, it was more likely his rather disreputable cousin, not his brother, who fathered the Hemmings child.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012 6:48:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012 6:49:31 AM PST
L. Merrell says:
Hey I remember reading about this (that it was more likely his brother) on the back or maybe on a random page in a book I picked up in the bookstore at Monticello when visiting there with family, but couldn't afford to buy it at the time. Now I can't remember the title. If you have any idea what book I may have been looking at Please let me know :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2012 1:48:04 PM PST
An excellent book at Monticello book store and available on Amazon is "In Defense of Thomas Jefferson The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal" by William G. Hyland, Jr. Another excellent book is Prof. Bob Turner's "The Jefferson-Hemings Controversy, Report of the Scholars Commission."

Herb Barger

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2012 1:59:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 12, 2012 2:03:17 PM PST
Grady you are correct, it is VERY unlikely that it happened. In fact it is an agenda of connecting the slavery issue at Monticello at the expense of Mr Jefferson, I know, I assisted Dr Foster who REFUSED to inform Nature and worked closely with them to perfect a false headline, that Randolph and sons were also suspect and had the same DNA. Monticello took the defective study added it to their Getting Word Project (10 prominent African-Americans who were advising Monticello and one of their members, an oral family specialist was actually assigned by Dan Jordan, Monticello President to Chair their biased and one sided story as told by one of the Monticello team who wrote a Minority Report that was "swept under the rug." Upon hearing of this I complained to the Chairman, Thomas Jefferson Memorial (later dropped) Foundation. We know who they are NOW memorializing. My complaints to the Chairman resulted in an apology to Dr Ken Wallenborn whose report may now be read on the Monticello web page.

Herb Barger
Founder, Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society (
Assistant to to Dr Foster

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2014 7:37:02 PM PDT
LAN Guy says:
"Ten years later, TJF and most historians believe that, years after his wife's death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson's records, including Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston Hemings. " -- the Monticello web site

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2014 11:15:03 AM PDT
To see the manipulation of the DNA Study go to The Thomas
Jefferson Heritage Society ( and (

Herb Barger
Asst. to DNA coordinator, Dr E.A. Foster
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