Slaves Who Gained Freedom

Jefferson had a number of slaves who gained their freedom[1] by various methods. He freed two slaves in his lifetime and five in his will. Three others ran away and were not pursued. (Still others successfully ran away despite pursuit.)

All ten freed with Jefferson's consent were members of the Hemings family; the seven he officially freed were all skilled tradesmen. About 200 slaves were sold at estate sales after Jefferson's death.

Contents

Freed by Jefferson during his lifetime

Freed in Jefferson's will (1826-1827)

  • Joseph Fossett (1780-1858)
  • Burwell Colbert (1783-1850+)
  • Madison Hemings (1805-1856)
  • John Hemmings (1776-1833)
  • Eston Hemings (1808-1856)

Left Monticello, with Jefferson's tacit consent

  • James Hemings (son of Critta Hemings, 1787-?) - left Monticello in 1805
  • Beverly Hemings (1798-1822+) - left Monticello in 1822
  • Harriet Hemings (1801-1822+) - left Monticello in 1822

Others who gained freedom after leaving Monticello
Please note that this list does not include those who gained their freedom through the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.

  • Brown Colbert - freed in order to remove to Liberia
  • Mary Colbert - freedom purchased by her family members
  • Melinda Colbert - apparently freed by John Wayles Eppes
  • Edith Hern Fossett, Ann-Elizabeth Fossett Isaacs (1812-1902), Peter Fossett (1815-1901), William Fossett, and Daniel Fossett - purchased and freed by Joseph Fossett and his family members
  • Isabella Fossett - ran away
  • Patsy Fossett - ran away in 1827, and was living free in Cincinnati by the time of the 1850 Census
  • John Freeman - sold to James Madison and later freed
  • Peter Hemings (1770-1834+) - sold to a family member and freed.
  • Sally Hemings - probably "given her time" by Thomas Jefferson's family after his death
  • Wormley Hughes - "given his time" by Thomas Jefferson's family after Jefferson's death
  • Israel Gillette Jefferson - purchased his own freedom with the aid of his wife

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on Lucia Stanton, Monticello Research Report, March 3, 1999.

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Discussion

says

Jamey Hemings ran away after being beaten severely by an overseer. Critta's son by Jefferson's nephew Peter Carr.

says

James Hemings was freed because of his sister to cover up the crime in Paris. Jefferson involving himself with a teenage girl. James would have talked and so Jefferson had no choice but to free him. Her mother was so hurt to have her daughter come back as a slave. The plan was for her to be free in Paris like James. It is so sad that Sally spent thirty-eight years of servitude for nothing because of Jefferson's selfishness.

says

Sally was given her freedom because she was the mother of Jefferson's children that was a given. Jefferson was not going to sell his family off. His in laws which are the Hemings family was always safe and secure. Do to the fact that they were part white and not totally black. Slavery at its most debased and Jefferson was totally in agreement with this type of society.

says

Is it true that Jefferson's son-in-law John Wayles Eppes (Jack) had children by Sally Hemings' neice Betsy Hemmings at least two children a boy and a girl. This son in law was married to Jefferson's daughter Maria and a had three children but only one son survived by the Francis Eppes. The family tree is full incest. It is no wonder that nobody came out deformed or seriously mentally ill. Today all of this mixing would be unheard of.

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