The Jefferson - Hemings ControversyHistory on trial Main Page

AboutTime LineEpisodesJefferson on Race & SlaveryResources

Episode Image

To frame the Jefferson-Hemings controversy, watch award-winning cinematic historian Ken Burns's 1997 Jefferson documentary and make a virtual visit to Jefferson's home through the excellent Monticello web site -- and consider two basic questions: 1) why is Thomas Jefferson important to "us"? 2) why does it matter if Thomas Jefferson had or didn't have a long-standing relationship with a slave? Prime your mental pump. The controversy will mean nothing to you unless there is something at stake. Does it matter if a Founding Father is taken down? Should we care about the private life of a Founding Father? Form tentative answers to those questions. Then lock and load.