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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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“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
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 marshals what evidence there is to attack the evidence that ties Jefferson to Hemings, which is: (1) Jefferson was around when Hemings got pregnant, (2) people accused them of having a relationship, (3) DNA proves one of Hemings's children has male Jefferson DNA. (4) Thus, Jefferson MUST have fathered ALL of Hemings's children.
But this, logically, is an argument that does not necessarily follow. It may, but it may not. (1) Other Jeffersons were around when Hemings got pregnant, and maybe Hemings wasn't always around Monticello when Jefferson was; (2) accusations don't necessarily prove anything (as another supposed African American descendant of Jefferson, Thomas Woodson, has no Jefferson DNA); (3) just because the DNA is Jefferson DNA, doesn't mean it's THOMAS Jefferson DNA; (4) just because Eston Hemings has Jefferson DNA doesn't mean that Sally's other children were fathered by a Jefferson.
That said, a convincing case is not made that Jefferson DID NOT have a relationship Hemings. (It is hard to prove a negative, anyway.) This book serves to knock Gordon-Reed's agenda-driven research down a tad, but it doesn't invalidate it. And, the argument that Jefferson would not have had sex with her because of his principles or ill-health is, well, a hard sell. History tells us principled people and unhealthy people oftentimes lose their principles and find renewed strength all the time when sex is dangled before them.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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If I was sitting on a jury and listened to Fawn Brodie try to get Jefferson convicted of paternity for the the children of slave Sally Hemings, and then the defense by William... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
While I understand that there are always two sides to every story, this novel seems to have more of a biased opinion; they really push how Jefferson was a family man and that he... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I was for many years aware of the controversy about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. The DNA evidence proving a relationship of the Jefferson family with the Hemmings family... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Philip Collier
Excellnet in all aspects. Can't go wrong with this one.Published 15 months ago by George T. Garlock
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 19 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 on February 17, 2014 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
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