VI. Conclusions

Report of the Research Committee
on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings

Thomas Jefferson Foundation
January 2000

 

VI. Conclusions

Based on the examination of currently available primary and secondary documentary evidence, the oral histories of descendants of Monticello's African-American community, recent scientific studies, and the guidance of individual members of Monticello's Advisory Committee for the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies and Advisory Committee on African-American Interpretation, the Research Committee has reached the following conclusions:

 

  1. Dr. Foster's DNA study was conducted in a manner that meets the standards of the scientific community, and its scientific results are valid.

     

  2. The DNA study, combined with multiple strands of currently available documentary and statistical evidence, indicates a high probability that Thomas Jefferson fathered Eston Hemings, and that he most likely was the father of all six of Sally Hemings's children appearing in Jefferson's records. Those children are Harriet, who died in infancy; Beverly; an unnamed daughter who died in infancy; Harriet; Madison; and Eston.

     

  3. Many aspects of this likely relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson are, and may remain, unclear, such as the nature of the relationship, the existence and longevity of Sally Hemings's first child, and the identity of Thomas C. Woodson.

     

  4. The implications of the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson should be explored and used to enrich the understanding and interpretation of Jefferson and the entire Monticello community.

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