Annette Gordon-Reed on the Public Perception of Jefferson and Hemmings

Gordon-Reed:    Well, certainly, Jefferson’s neighbors talked about it.  There are, you know, in letters and various things and I referenced them in the book and other people have talked about it and this was sort of… it was an open secret.  It was something that was talked about during his time.  Now, people like James Madison would never, this is a kind of stuff would never be referenced in any kind of letters or James Monroe, people like that, but neighbors in Charlottesville were talking about this and talking about it in their letters.  One of Jefferson’s friends, close friend John Hartwell Cocke was a person who wrote about this in a personal diary.  So, people knew this, but as I said, it’s not the kind of thing that the family would write about.

The Charlottesville community was certainly aware of their relationship Annette Gordon-Reed says.

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