In view of the charges that I am a hypocrite over my relationship with my slave Sally Hemings and the 1998 DNA connecting results, I decided to tell my side of the story. Sally and my beloved wife Martha were half-sisters. Sally’s mother Betty was a slave concubine to Martha’s father, John Wales. On the death Wales, Martha and I inherited her father’s slaves, including young Sally. Sally was present when Martha became gravely ill on birth of our last child, when I made a death-bed promise to Martha that I would never remarry. Martha did not want the same terrible experience for our daughters that she had with her step-mother. With Martha’s passing, I became Minister to France and took Patsy, our oldest daughter, with me. In 1787, on news of the awful death of my daughter Lucy, I requested my cousins, the Eppes, to send a responsible female servant to cross the ocean with younger daughter Polly to be with us. They selected 14 year old Sally. I sent both daughters to boarding school, while Sally became a part of my household, together with her brother James, who trained as a chef.
In Paris, I became emotionally involved with a married woman Maria Cosway. I was truly depressed over our separation. Meanwhile, Sally matured into a strikingly attractive, bright young lady who resembled Martha. I believe Sally was aware of the French Law which gave slaves the right to freedom. I made a promise to Sally that if she would return to Virginia with us, I would free any children Sally had with me, as soon as they achieved adulthood. Over the many years, we had six children; four survived to adulthood and were freed. We named our first son Madison, a tribute to James, my dear friend. On my death, I freed only Sally’s few relatives, and no other slaves. To avoid the auction, I arranged for Sally to be given to our daughter Patsy, who then gave Sally her freedom. I take pride that I lived up to every promise that I made to Martha and Sally.
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