Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society presents: "Cracking the Fable: The Truth behind Jefferson and Hemings”

By Gar Schulin

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – The Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society will host a panel of distinguished authors, researchers and nationally acclaimed scholars to address the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings controversy in a comprehensive review of the facts of the historic record to date. The academic seminar, “Cracking the Fable: The Truth behind Jefferson and Hemings,” will be held on Saturday, October 27, 2012, in Charlottesville, Virginia on the grounds of the University of Virginia in the Commonwealth Room at Newcomb Hall, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission to this special event is free and open to the public.

The seminar will include a presentation by Dr. Robert F. Turner, Chairman of the independent Jefferson-Hemings Scholars Commission. This group of thirteen distinguished scholars, independent and unpaid, spent a year studying all the available evidence relating to whether Jefferson could have been the father of a child by Sally Hemings. It was their “unanimous view that the allegation is by no means proven; and we find it regrettable that public confusion about the 1998 DNA testing and other evidence has misled many people into believing that the issue is closed.” Significantly, in addition to the unanimous conclusion that the allegations were not proven, the Scholars Commission voted 12-1 that the allegations were probably not true.

A public question-and-answer, panel discussion will be held following each lecture session. The day will conclude with book signings of The Jefferson-Hemings Controversy: Report of the Scholars Commission; In Defense of Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson Vindicated.

Guest presenters for the Morning Session are Mr. John Works, “The Monticello Association and the Graveyard at Monticello;” Ms. Cynthia H. Burton, “Did Poor Scholarship Affect the Paternity Debate?” and Dr. M. Andrew Holowchak, “As Well-Established as… Many More Things in History.”

The Afternoon Session will feature Guest Presenters Mr. William G. Hyland, “In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: What Sally Hemings Tells Us about Our Times,” followed by Dr. Robert F. Turner, “Is the Jefferson-Hemings Debate Over? Report of the Scholars Commission.”

John Works is a Jefferson descendant, past president of The Monticello Association and of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society. His published articles include “A Primer on Jefferson DNA,” published in 2000 and available online at: ,

as well as "The Jefferson-Hemings Controversy: A New, Critical Look," published in Volume 28, Number 3 of the Fall 2010 edition of the Sons of the Revolution's Drumbeat Magazine and available online at:

He was instrumental in influencing The Monticello Association's deliberations on whether to admit the Hemings into the Association.

Cynthia H. Burton is a professional researcher; veteran genealogist; and she is an authority on Jefferson's private life, his brother Randolph Jefferson, and the enslaved community at Monticello. She has 35 years’ experience studying the historic neighborhood and its inhabitants, and she has worked closely with several authors writing about the Hemings controversy. Mrs. Burton is the author of Jefferson Vindicated - Fallacies, Omissions, and Contradictions in the Hemings Genealogical Search with Foreword by James A. Bear, Jr., Emeritus Director and Curator at Monticello. She is currently working on a publication focusing on new research and the scholarship in the Hemings debate.

In the search for truth in the Hemings controversy, serious flaws have been documented in the scholarship of certain historians. Exploration of the record pinpoints enormous gaps in the evidence plus data that have been overlooked, ignored, and/or distorted. Mrs. Burton’s presentation will illuminate the questions, “Have revisionist historians' techniques of filling in gaps with imagination influenced by their own biases undermined traditional standards for objectivity in historical scholarship?” and “Did poor scholarship affect the paternity debate?”

M. Andrew Holowchak, Ph.D., is a Professor of Philosophy at Rider University. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers in areas such as ethics, psychoanalysis, ancient philosophy and science, philosophy of sport, and social and political philosophy and has authored 19 books. His articles on Thomas Jefferson include: “The Historical Pillorying of Thomas Jefferson: The ‘Seismic Effect’ of a DNA Study Gone Wrong” and “Jefferson’s Moral Agrarianism.” He is the author of Dutiful Correspondent: Philosophical Essays on Thomas Jefferson (forthcoming) and, Framing a Legend: Exposing the Distorted History of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings (forthcoming).

William G. Hyland, Professor of Law, Stetson College of Law and attorney, is the author of In Defense of Thomas Jefferson: The Sally Hemings Sex Scandal (St. Martins) and the forthcoming biography, Long Journey with Mr. Jefferson: The Life of Dumas Malone (Potomac Books). The belief that Thomas Jefferson had an affair and fathered a child (or children) with slave Sally Hemings- and that such an allegation was proven by DNA testing- has become so pervasive in American popular culture that it is not only widely accepted but taught to students as historical fact. In this startling and revelatory argument, William G. Hyland shows not only that the evidence against Thomas Jefferson is lacking, but that in fact he is entirely innocent of the charge of having sexual relations with Sally Hemings.

Robert F. Turner, SJD, is a cofounder of the Center for National Security Law (1981) at the University of Virginia School of Law. Professor Turner holds both professional and academic doctorates from the University of Virginia School of Law, and is a former Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Law at the U.S. Naval War College and a Distinguished Lecturer at West Point. He has taught both in Virginia's Department of Government and Foreign Affairs and the Law School, and is the author or editor of more than a dozen books. A former president of the congressionally-established U.S. Institute of Peace, he has had a strong professional interest in Jefferson for more than four decades.

Dr. Turner served as Chairman of the independent Jefferson-Hemings Scholars Commission, and he is the editor of The Report of the Scholars Commission on the Jefferson-Hemings Controversy. The Report documents the results of a year-long, independent panel inquiry by thirteen distinguished academics from across the nation. Working without compensation at the request of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, the scholars were unanimous in their conclusion that "the allegation is by no means proven," and with but a single mild dissent their views "ranged from serious skepticism about the charge to a conviction that it is almost certainly untrue." Each argument in the debate is examined in careful detail in the comprehensive 412-page volume, with more than 1,400 footnotes documenting their analysis. Many of the commonly accepted premises behind the story were found to be false, according to the panel of scholars.

A fable has been defined as “A fictitious narrative; usually of known origin.” Dr. Robert Turner notes the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings Fable is clearly documented in the historic record as political smear allegations originating from the pen of a disreputable journalist named James Thomson Callender in October, 1802, and subsequently picked up by Federalist editors and abolitionists in the United States and abroad.

While the significant evidence in the historic record to date overwhelmingly vindicates Thomas Jefferson as a man of great character and moral rectitude; and as someone wholly innocent of the charges of fathering slave children, Dr. Donald Livingston, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Emory University, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, President of the Abbeville Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society Board Member, notes there is a great deal of ideologically driven "advocacy scholarship" throughout academia, foundations, museum institutions, and the pop culture media today, which is more interested in changing public behavior than in truth. Dr. Livingston asserts solid scholarship and truth will eventually out those omissions of fact; intentional or unintentional errors in the transcriptions of historic documents; and other blatant falsehoods which contradict everything known about Thomas Jefferson contained in the historic record to date.

About the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society:

The Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society ( is a Charlottesville, Virginia-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization which has a five-fold purpose: to further the honor and integrity of Thomas Jefferson, and to promote his vision and ideas, and their application in our times and in the future; to pursue truth in all matters that touch upon the legacy of Thomas Jefferson; to promote the principles of freedom, patriotism and truth, which were hallmarks of Thomas Jefferson's life; to sponsor and perform research in matters pertaining to the private and public life of Thomas Jefferson; and to stand always in opposition to those who would seek to undermine the integrity of Thomas Jefferson. Additional detailed facts documenting the work of the independent Scholars Commission and other distinguished scholars can be referenced at the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society web site.


Blogger David McElroy said...

Jefferson appears to be the target of a concerted campaign to destroy his legacy, and remove him from America's memory. I have noticed Jefferson's image is no longer on American coins or currency. The Declaration of Independence is a terrorist document according to some in government. Quoting Thomas Jefferson could bring scrutiny in an age where speaking truth is an act of treason, and even the courts have ruled "the truth is no defense". As Jefferson said, the tree of liberty needs refreshed!

9:07 AM  
Blogger J R "States" Manship said...

Along with Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media, Jack Clayton a history scholar and activist, I (James Renwick Manship), then a member of the Mount Vernon Board of Visitors, we organized a Press Conference in the Army - Navy Town Club on Farragut Square two blocks from the White House to refute the lies about Thomas Jefferson fathering a slave child with Sally Hemings where six leads to the stories traced back to the "handlers" of William Jefferson Clinton, at the time in the midst of Impeachment proceedings for his sexual activities with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. Nature magazine published an "Errata" soon thereafter.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Richard Simpkins said...

"Jefferson appears to be the target of a concerted campaign to destroy his legacy, and remove him from America's memory."

You mean because of Hemings? Jefferson is still revered.

"I have noticed Jefferson's image is no longer on American coins or currency."

Have you never seen an nickel?

"The Declaration of Independence is a terrorist document according to some in government."

According to whom in government?

11:23 PM  
Blogger Richard Simpkins said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:24 PM  

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