Welcome to the first day of #PawiiBlogs celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth were we take you on a journey each week in February into what love may have looked like for black people in history. This year we are focusing on side girlfriends and wives of past #presidents. This week, whom better to start with other than Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson, President from 1801-1809, the impartial noblemen from Virginia who supposedly was against slavery, but still owned a large group of slaves on his plantation at Monticello, was quite attracted to one of them in particular. Sally Hemings, a slave he met in Paris and returned with him to Monticello, was a very light skinned black slave and could actually pass for a tanned white person. They had five children together from the affair, but only one them survived to adult hood. As children, they all passed as white people in the community with little trouble. When Jefferson died, he had clearly stated in his will that Hemings and the children be freed from slavery. They were freed, and the one surviving child, a son named Madison, looked very much like Jefferson himself.
Sally Hemings was a familiar example of the common practice of masters participating in secret relationships with enslaved women. Sally was 16 when she was most likely coerced into this affair with the much older man. It lasted 37 years.