Enlisting her research skills as a historian and her rhetorical arguments as a lawyer, Annette Gordon-Reed has written The Hemingses Of Monticello (W.W. Norton, $35), a revolutionary book that successfully topples the received wisdom of the white-male-historian establishment for two centuries. Such scholars as Dumas Malone and Joseph Ellis, who has since recanted, had rejected out-of-hand the possibility of any sexual relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings or of the issue of any progeny. In refuting their rejections, Gordon-Reed builds on the 1997 DNA evidence of one instance of racial mixing between the Hemingses and the Jeffersons, but the strength of her argument resides in the rich oral histories she has uncovered in her research of African-American primary sources. These freshly discovered papers not only enrich our knowledge of the world of Monticello, but also of the development of slavery in Virginia during the 18th century. Gordon-Reed’s work is a milestone in historiography and has been nominated for the National Book Award.
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family - Annette Gordon-Reed
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 17th, 2008
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 8th, 2009