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Films >> Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000) >>

0:00:00 Sally Swings
Sally gives a voiceover introducing her story.
0:00:49 Critta's baby arrives
Sally's mother, Betty, hears the bell ringing and runs outside, shouting to Sally to join her and the rest of the slaves as they run to Critta's house. A nursemaid comes outside with the baby and announces it's a boy.
0:02:40 The father is chased
Peter and Samuel Carr ride up to the scene but are sent away by Betty.
0:03:08 Sally to Paris
Sally fawns over Critta's baby. Betty walks in and announces that Isabel's baby is due any day, so Sally must accompany Polly to Paris. Her brother James is already there, and she has a chance to be free.
0:03:59 Sally and Henry
Henry makes Sally a trunk for her trip but thinks she will not come back because she will be free in France.
0:04:25 Polly doesn't want to go
Polly comes crying to Sally. Neither of them want to go to Paris.
0:04:42 Paris
Sally and Polly enjoy the sights from their horse-drawn carriage. Upon arriving, they are greeted by Petit.
0:05:33 James greets Sally
James shows Sally to her room, but she is unable to believe she has been given so nice a place of her own. James tells her their mother sent her there to take advantage of all the opportunities that freedom in France has to offer.
0:07:04 Who is that? Thomas meets Sally
Jefferson excuses himself from a serious conversation with DuPont to ask James about Sally. Sally speaks softly and does not look Jefferson in the eye. Thomas Paine suggests that Jefferson see to Sally's education while in France. Lady Cosway interrupts their conversation as it is time for dinner.
0:09:33 Sally learns of the promise
Martha tells Sally that Jefferson has promised never to remarry after the death of his first wife.
0:10:11 Sally is worth mentoring
Jefferson walks in on Sally as she is examining his pocket watch. He asks her to take his coat and tend to his wrist. They talk about the poor state of France, and Jefferson comments on Sally's resemblance to his late wife. They also exchange limericks.
0:13:39 A Paris street as the Revolution heats up
James translates for the French peasant, who expresses his grievances. The peasants swarm the carriage, but the driver announces the passengers are Jefferson's servants, and the peasants allow them to pass.
0:14:27 A look at Jefferson's (somewhat grumpy) women
Martha wants to go to convent school. Lady Cosway, ready to leave her husband and England, awaits Jefferson's affections. Jefferson denies both of them, and both his daughters leave the room crying.
0:16:15 Learning to be a French Lady
Sally and Polly receive lessons from Madame Dupre. Sally learns to read and write in French and English.
0:17:00 Sally an Non-American
A peasant, Jean Michel, attempts to steal from the kitchen, and Sally draws a knife on him. He explains he can't feed his son, so Sally gives him food. Jean compares American slaves to French peasants and encourages Sally to take a stand.
0:18:44 Sally confronts Jefferson over the Declaration
Sally asks if slaves are included in the Declaration of Independence. He avoids the question but gives Sally a copy of Paine's Common Sense.
0:20:28 Sally reads Common Sense
Aloud, in the privacy of her room.
0:20:48 Versailles
Jefferson has a special gown made for Sally so she can attend his daughters at the king and queen's party.
0:21:28 Sally recites Common Sense
Sally's recitation at the party compliments Paine on his work.
0:22:19 Man-talk between Jefferson and Paine
Paine tells Jefferson that Sally is an "extraordinary girl." Jefferson denies any attraction to Sally.
0:23:09 Paine lauds Sally
Paine says Sally has learned much during her stay in France. He sees her as representative of the potential of all of Jefferson's slaves, were he to release them.
0:23:58 The dance
Paine takes Sally's hand and leads her in the dance, while Jefferson asks Martha to join him. Martha again asks her father if she can go to the convent, saying no one will miss her, but Jefferson denies her on both counts. Paine not-so-subtly exchanges dance partners with Jefferson, leaving him and Sally to dance together.
0:27:08 Jefferson turned on
Jefferson gives a lingering glance at Sally's through her reflection in the mirror.
0:27:23 The house is clear
Martha and Polly are enrolled in boarding school, and James is to cook for the DuPonts. Jefferson shares the burden on his conscience with Sally.
0:27:45 You'd better go
Jefferson admits to Sally that he enjoys her "touch" but sends her out of the room.
0:28:57 Making-love
Jefferson enters Sally's room with an intense look in his eye but then turns his head down. Sally sits down on the couch as she takes off her dress, and Jefferson kisses her shoulder.
0:30:20 The morning after
Jefferson asks for Sally's forgiveness, but she cuts him off by giving him a kiss, which he returns wholeheartedly.
0:31:27 Loving togetherness
Jefferson reads to Sally, they hold hands, walk in the garden, etc.
0:32:37 I love you
Sally tells Jefferson she loves him, but her sentiment is not entirely returned.
0:33:40 The Revolution
The Revolution erupts with the storming of the Bastille. Sally is caught in the city's chaos as the Revolution erupts with the storming of the Bastille. Jefferson saves her from the crowd and explains they must return to America because Paris is no longer safe.
0:34:02 Je suis enciente
After Jefferson saves her from the crowd and explains they must return to America because Paris is no longer safe, Sally announces her pregnancy.
0:34:38 James in rage
James is upset about Sally's pregnancy. He desires to remain in France and keep his freedom and tells Sally she and her unborn child will do the same. Jefferson and James argue about whether or not James, Sally, and her child should remain in Paris. Jefferson wants them all to return because he worries about their safety in France. Conversely, James worries about their safety in America because in America they are slaves.
0:36:17 Departure
Jefferson promises James freedom if he returns to Monticello with his sister. Jefferson, Sally, James, Polly, and Martha leave Paris but are first confronted by the patriots in the streets. They are allowed passage because Jefferson is regarded as a defender of liberty and also because of Sally's kindness to the leader of the riot.
0:38:22 Reunion at Monticello
September, 1789, Jefferson, his daughters, James, and a very pregnant Sally return to Monticello. Slaves and Jefferson's family members ride/run alongside the carriage welcoming him home. James receives his first orders as a slave since being free in France. Sally's mother and friends realize she is pregnant while welcoming and hugging her, upon her arrival.
0:40:31 A mother's wrath
Sally's sister Critta admires the purple dress she brings back from France. However, Sally's mother expresses her discontent for Sally's return to slavery and her pregnancy.
0:41:55 Reunion with Henry
Henry offers to help Sally take care of the baby, indicating he still wants to marry her. Sally breaks the news that the baby already has a "papa" and that he is at Monticello. Henry is devastated by her inference that Jefferson is the baby's father.
0:42:51 A mother's counsel
Sally's mother tells the story of their family, beginning with their arrival from Africa to the present. She tells the cycle of how the women in their family have the master's babies and are later sold. With this, she urges Sally to attain her baby's freedom immediately.
0:44:13 Surprise announcement
The slaves and Jefferson family are all gathered for what appears to be a barbecue. Jefferson's nephew toasts his uncle's appointment as Secretary of State to President Washington. Sally is upset by the news, concerned for herself and baby. Also, it appears one of Jefferson's nephews has been raping Critta in Sally and James's absence. James's drinking problem develops as life back on the plantation becomes increasingly depressing, compared to living freely in France.
0:46:56 What am I to you?
Jefferson and Sally are lying in his bed. She expresses discontent for his future absence at the estate, since he will have to serve as Secretary of State in Washington. He tries to comfort her, saying he will be home often. Sally responds by questioning his feelings for her and her place in his life.
0:47:40 Thomas Jefferson Hemings!
The bell rings, indicating the birth of Sally's baby. Sally's mother and James remark on the baby's fair complexion. Officially announcing the baby's arrival, one slave lifts the baby up while yelling his name: Thomas Jefferson Hemings! Jefferson's son-in-law is disgusted by the child's name and the situation. Jefferson runs excitedly onto the porch, then hides his happiness by reviewing the documents in his hand.
0:48:35 Visiting the baby: Henry and the daughters
Henry comes and visits Sally and the baby. He gives her a handmade toy for the newborn. Polly and Martha bring linens for the baby. Martha makes it clear that only Polly had an interest in seeing the baby and that everyone needs to focus on preparing for Jefferson's departure to Washington.
0:49:55 Visiting the baby: Thomas
Jefferson quietly sneaks into the dark cabin to visit his son and Sally. Sally is laying on her back, with the baby resting on her chest. Jefferson sits on the bed next to her and gently kisses both mother and child on the head.
0:50:50 Critta fixes herself
1791, one year after the birth of Thomas Jefferson Hemings: Martha is married to Thomas Randolph and moved to her husband's plantation (with a dowry of 20 slaves), Jefferson is still in Washington and infrequently returns to the plantation, and Monticello is flourishing agriculturally. Sally offers to teach Critta how to read, and she declines since it is against the law. Critta also admits to Sally that she "fixed" herself because she does not want another child to grow up in slavery.
0:52:22 Teaching Henry
Henry interrupts Sally's discussion with Critta, as he approaches them in the fields. Henry and Sally discuss Martha and Thomas Randolph's marriage and what life is like for him over at their plantation. Henry admits he offered to leave Monticello and go as part of Martha's dowry, because he did not want to be around Sally until he was no longer heartbroken. She changes the topic and asks about his carpentry. Henry expresses interest in becoming a furniture worker, but it is impossible because he does not understand measurements nor can he read. With this, she opens her book and begins reading and pointing out letters. This initiates their meetings at night in order to teach him how to read.
0:55:29 Trading letters
The camera alternates between showing what Sally and Jefferson are both doing while away from one another. He is seen in his office, reading and writing. She is shown walking through the fields and making letter blocks and writing with Henry. They are both reading each other's letters by candlelight. Henry expresses his continued love for Sally by spelling out SAL (heart shape) HEN. During this montage of Sally and Jefferson's lives away from each other, their voices narrate the scene. Sally and Jefferson alternate reading their letters aloud.
0:57:13 Martha's child is born
Martha arrives at Monticello. Polly and Sally greet her when she arrives. Martha complains about the carriage ride, the heat, inquires where everyone else is -- then she collapses. In pain, she begs for Sally's help, stating that her "insides burning."
0:58:02 And dies
Martha's baby's funeral takes place on a dark and cloudy day. Sally narrates the scene. Martha sits, upset, in front of her child's grave.
0:58:41 The fugitive slave
A runaway slave is stumbling through the forest, trying to escape barking dogs. Sally and Henry are sitting in her cabin, reading, when the slave bursts through the door. She is badly injured, explaining how her master beat her then set the dogs on her. She pleads to Sally and Henry, asking them to take her to the river. Sally and Henry take a carriage and take the runaway to the river. Sally gives the woman directions: follow the river and travel only by night.
1:00:00 Caught
After helping the young woman escape, Sally and Henry are met by her owner, near the river. He is smitten by Sally. Since he has lost one slave, he wants to take Sally as a replacement. Henry tries to protect Sally but is restrained by the owner's henchmen. The slave owner touches Sally's face, and she warns him that she belongs to Thomas Jefferson. With this, she and Henry are taken back to Monticello.
1:01:05 Jefferson defends Sally
The owner asks Jefferson for either $800 or Sally. Jefferson angrily threatens the slave owner while telling him to leave the property.
1:01:38 This is the law
Jefferson reprimands Sally for aiding the runaway slave. She defends her decision to help the woman, and for the first time since they began a romantic relationship, he orders her to obey him.
1:02:15 The morning after
Sally spent the night with Jefferson, despite their disagreement the night before. He tells her that since his efforts in Washington were unsuccessful, he resigned and he is now home for good. Also, he plans to build her a room in Monticello's big house so that they can enjoy each other privately.
1:03:09 Behold the new Monticello
It is 1795 and Jefferson Is dedicated to his idea of expanding Monticello. He builds a model of the new Monticello and gives it to the slaves. Henry wisely states "the next 20 years of your life boy" to another slave while looking at the model home.
1:03:55 The tell-tale quilts
While in the slave quarters, Jefferson sees the Heming's family quilt. It includes his father-in-law, his late wife, and his two children with Sally.
1:04:45 The swivel chair
Surprised by the documentation of the Heming's unique family tree, Jefferson leaves with a group of children to play with his latest invention: the swivel chair.
1:05:04 James coming unglued
James is working in the slave kitchen, showing another man French techniques. Martha asks Sally to change her baby for dinner but slightly softens her demeanor when she sees Sally's little girl is sick. Martha is concerned and reassures Sally she will inform Mr. Jefferson about the baby's poor health. After Martha leaves, James sarcastically responds. Asking what can Jefferson do for Sally's sick baby? Master Peter then enters, looking for Critta. James sternly addresses Master Peter and demands he stop raping his sister. Sally's Mother separates Master Peter and James before their arguing becomes a physical altercation, and she orders Master Peter back to the big house.
1:07:08 Discussion of slavery
Jefferson, Martha, Master Randolph, and Master Peter sit around a fire discussing slavery. Martha and Master Peter are the only two who express clear opinions. Master Peter believes slavery is necessary to continue their "southern way of life." However, Martha quotes her father, believing if the slaves thought their hard work would benefit their families as much as white Americans, they would continue to work just as hard.
1:07:44 James announces plans to leave
James, angered by the raping of his sister by Peter, expresses that he wants to leave as he will kill one of the white men if stays any longer.
1:08:19 And leaves
James meets with Jefferson to gain his freedom, given to him on the trip to Paris. The women upset by his departure, send him off with tears.
1:08:49 Sally's baby dies
One of the plantation worker rings the bell telling the plantation of a death. The women of the plantation pray for the soul of Sally's baby who has died.
1:09:17 At the grave
The workers meet at the slave funeral. Martha visits the grave and lays flowers for the dead child. Jefferson is seen on horseback, overlooking the service.
1:10:36 Polly gets married
One year later, Jefferson's daughter Polly gets married at the family home. Slaves, including Sally, are present at the service. Jefferson gives his daughter and her new husband a plantation and numerous slaves as a wedding gift.
1:11:20 Henry makes a move
Sally visits Henry who is reading an article about slave revolts. Angered by Jefferson's treatment of Sally, he forces himself upon her. Henry tells her of another woman that Jefferson has been seeing in Washington.
1:13:51 The other woman
Sally meets Jefferson, who is seeking out a plot for his University. Sally questions Jefferson as to who Margaret Becker-Smith is. Jefferson ambiguously tells her she is friend. Sally claims she too has "friends" to which Jefferson angrily chases her back to the house.
1:14:55 You don't have to hurt me
Back at the house Jefferson grabs Sally violently, claiming her as his own. He apologizes for hurting her, and they embrace and kiss.
1:15:29 Slave revolt
A local sheriff and his enforcements tell Jefferson of a local slave revolt. They tell him that one of the slaves was owned by Jefferson. It is Henry Jackson, and he has been captured. Sally listens in on the conversation. Henry is hanged at first light, and Sally and her son witness the event. Henry struggles as he looks on, screaming for Sally. He is shot and hung.
1:17:08 Sally confronts Jefferson
An upset Sally confronts Jefferson about how he could not have protected Henry. He claims there is nothing he could have done. Sally tells Jefferson that she educated Henry, to which he says she could also be killed for doing so. Sally pleads with Jefferson to take a stand against slavery. Jefferson believes he is powerless against it.
1:18:24 Enter James Thomson Callender
James Callender is invited to dinner to drum up publicity for Jefferson's campaign. Callender pries for gossip from Jefferson's guests. Sally and her children serve at the dinner. Callender inquires into the children, hinting at the possibility of the children being that of Jefferson's blood.
1:20:53 Blackmail
Callender and Jefferson talk. Callender exclaims that if Jefferson wants to hide the truth about Sally, he should pay Callender to keep quiet or render him Postmaster. Jefferson refuses.
1:21:37 Inauguration
Jefferson is sworn in as President with Martha at his side. Sally reveals she gave birth to another Jefferson baby.
1:21:54 The family discusses the scandal
Jefferson and family read Callender's article revealing the secret affair. Jefferson still believes that rendering Callender Postmaster would have been a mistake.
1:22:16 James Madison discusses the scandal with Jefferson
James Madison reveals that this is disaster and that Congress has been speculating when he shall resign. He claims that whatever he does with Sally is his own business. He tells Madison that he is willing to tell the truth, and he shall put an end to slavery. Madison exclaims that this will end his presidency.
1:24:15 Son Tom preparing to run
After overhearing his father, Tom, upset, runs to be consoled by Sally. He tells her is leaving the plantation as he feels guilty for the scandal
1:24:44 Sally confronts Thomas about Tom
Sally barges in on Martha and Jefferson. Martha outraged, tries to send her away. Jefferson declines. She asks whether they are to be sold. Martha is sent out, and Sally argues with Jefferson over her freedom and the freedom of her children.
1:26:02 Tom's tearful departure
Tom is to visit the cousins of the Jeffersons for food. Tom exclaims that Sally and her children will be sold. Sally forces him to leave despite him wanting to stay and protect her. She gives him Jefferson's pocket watch. Jefferson watches as Tom rides away. Martha tells Jefferson to sell Sally.
1:28:15 Family discussion again
Martha tells Jefferson to leave Monticello to defend his presidency against the scandal.
1:28:33 Martha on the scandal
She tells Jefferson that Sally must be sold. Jefferson leaves Monticello and the slaves in Martha's charge. He exclaims that it would be wrong to sell Sally. He exclaims that Sally is part of the family now and will never be sold.
1:29:36 Jefferson leaves Sally to Martha
Sally watches as Jefferson leaves for Washington.
1:30:08 Sally and Martha fight over the letters
Martha is burning letters at a fireplace. Sally enters, realizing they are her love letters from Jefferson. Martha claims that nothing belongs to her anymore and bars her from the house. Martha tells her that she is now in charge of Sally and tells her that despite the scandal, Jefferson will repeal his greatness. Sally is made to pack her belongings.
1:31:25 The White House dinner
Discussion over Jefferson as a "Man of the People" ensues at dinner. Despite Jefferson claiming the dinner to be relaxed and common, Paine declares the hypocrisy of using fine wine and crystal. Sally enters to serve at the dinner. The room is shocked. One guest at the table comments on Sally's beauty. Sally overpours Jefferson's water glass.
1:34:12 Woman talk
Sally and Mrs. Madison discuss both being second-class citizens despite their different colors. She is told to adapt to Jefferson's political career.
1:34:51 Monticello is yours
Sally asks whether she is to be sold. Sally tells Jefferson about Martha throwing her out of the house. He tells her that Monticello will always be her home. They embrace. Sally asks why she is still treated as a slave despite being mother to four of his children.
1:36:16 No more trouble from Martha
Sally wakes up in Jefferson's bed, where Jefferson is watching over her. Jefferson is asked to leave for a meeting but decides to stay to be with Sally one more time. He has written a letter to Martha allowing her to live at the house.
1:37:23 Meeting Callender on the road
On Sally's way back to Monticello, her carriage is stopped by Callender. He offers her to sell her side of the story to the public. She refuses. He gives her his business card. He insults the president and claims that he is lying to the public. Sally rides away.
1:39:16 Trumping Martha
Sally arrives back at the house to Martha's dismay. Sally hands her the letter and walks into the house. She tells Martha of Callender's offer and implies that if she is forced to leave Monticello again, she will sell her story.
1:40:19 James reappears
James Thomson Callender, political writer and commentator, is working on his publication. He is on a tirade, denouncing President Jefferson and his moral character for having relations with, and having children with Sally Hemings. He calls Sally "a slut as common as the pavement," as James, Sally's freed brother, enters, and yells at Callender for speaking about Sally in such a way.
1:42:04 James ends it all
James, distraught by how his sister is being treated, and upset with how slaves in general are treated, shoots himself in the head.
1:42:35 James's funeral
All of the slaves on the Monticello plantation gather at the slave graveyard for the funeral. Martha reads a eulogy from President Jefferson. Sally delivers a eulogy as well, and the slaves sing a song about "everlasting life" as they leave the grave. Sally remains at the grave and prays alone for a little while.
1:45:28 Casting spells
Sally meets with a spiritual woman, and tries to cast a spell. "Who you want gone?" "An enemy," Sally says as she passes James Thompson Callender's card to the woman. "And who you want back?" "Tom." "Da wheel grinds slow, but it grind fine. Fret not yourself about the wicked, for they will soon be cut down like grass, and whither like the green herb."
1:46:18 No beatings on this plantation
Mr. Carr apologizes to Sally about James's death, when Sally sees a slave being beaten. She interjects and says, "Mr. Jefferson does not allow beatings on this plantation." The man, Mr. Lilly, responds by slapping Sally, and Mr. Carr responds by threatening and firing Lilly.
1:46:59 Educating again
An African-American comes in from the rain where Sally is teaching Critta how to read by candlelight. The man says he is looking for Sally, because he needs her help.
1:47:02 Helping another runaway
The man and Sally are riding on a buggy in the rain and are stopped by two men who push her off onto the ground. They tell the man, "You done real good, boy," and pay him before telling him to leave.
1:47:53 Sally gets a whipping
Sally is naked, with her arms tied together as she hangs from a pole. Mr. Lilly appears from the darkness and lectures her about how she thinks she's superior. He says that many people would like to see her dead, and he would be "happy to oblige them." He then beats Sally.
1:48:53 Family council
The Jefferson family read Callender's publication and discuss the implications of relationships with slaves. They decide Sally is the perfect example of "white people's fears . . . a negress capable of seducing white men." Relations with slaves could result in no more white people, and they think Sally is dangerous. However, one of the men says he believes she is being taken care of by Mr. Lilly.
1:49:37 Sally saved
Sally, who has been beaten so badly that she is barely breathing, is lying on the ground as Mr. Lilly approaches her. From a distance, Mr. Carr threatens him, tells him and his men to drop their weapons, and saves Sally.
1:50:26 Purchasing Louisiana while Sally heals
Legislators, including Jefferson, gather to sign the papers to purchase Louisiana. In a voiceover, Jefferson reads a love-letter to Sally, while the slaves at Monticello help take care of Sally as she heals. Jefferson reassures Sally that the country is no longer concerned with his personal affairs, and the two of them have nothing to worry about in terms of their relationship.
1:52:26 Callender dies
Callender is found dead in three feet of water. Men fish him out, as he apparently drowned. Sally, in a voiceover, says, "As you sow, so shall you reap." Sally feels slight guilt about the wish she made about making this enemy go away.
1:52:54 Party time at Monticello
The plantation gets together for a Harvest celebration, which Jefferson comes home for. Mr. Carr asks to speak to Sally in private, and President Jefferson watches them exit the room.
1:54:01 Peter Carr hits on Sally
Mr. Carr talks to Sally about the kind of trouble she could get into with the Sheriff and how hurt she could get, while stroking her arm. He says he is always there for her, and he hopes she will realize he is "the one," and kisses her. Sally rejects him, and Carr, upset, shows her something Jefferson wrote about slaves in his Notes on the State of Virginia. Mr. Carr says Jefferson does not care for Sally like he does.
1:55:13 Jefferson interrupts
Carr kisses Sally again, as Jefferson walks in and interrupts. Sally, upset, exits the room. Jefferson asks for an explanation, and Carr claims that he helps Sally feel less lonely while the President is away. Jefferson throws Carr on the ground and tells him that he is no longer welcome in Monticello.
1:56:43 Betty's words
Jefferson approaches Sally's room: "She doesn't want to speak to you." "What is this tone you have taken with me, Betty?" "It is a mother's tone."
1:57:10 Sally reads Jefferson's Notes
Jefferson asks Sally if it is true that she wants a younger man and says that she must have given Carr reason to act in such a way. Sally is offended, by both the accusation and the racist statements made in his Notes. Jefferson claims that the observations were taken "out of context," and that they were written 25 years ago. Sally shows Jefferson the scars from Mr. Lilly's beatings, and Jefferson becomes very upset, as he did not know that happened. Sally tells Jefferson she hates him and what she has become, and Jefferson tells her he loves her. Jefferson tells Sally that she owns his heart and she must never leave him, and she promises that she won't.
2:00:37 Happiness in retirement
Jefferson returns to Monticello. The year is now 1815, and both Polly and Sally's Mother, Betty, have passed away. Sally has given birth to two more children, Madison and Esther. Monticello has not been prosperous for a while, and Jefferson fell into debt. Sally gathers with some of her children and Critta on a blanket in an open field, and Harriet asks where she will be buried. Sally tells her that she will be buried with her Grandma.
2:01:42 The patriarch
Jefferson comes by on horse and asks why they aren't ready for the ceremony in 15 minutes, and says it is "too important a day for rain." Sally tells Critta he is a very happy man, and she says "That's because he ain't president no more."
2:02:28 Musical accomplishment
Some of the children and Jefferson's daughter Martha listen while Beverly plays the piano. Virginia tells everyone that Jefferson has arrived for the ceremony.
2:03:07 Money troubles loom
Martha tells Randolph that gentlemen are waiting for their meeting with Jefferson, which she suspects is about their wages. She tells him that she is relying on him to make sure Jefferson takes care of it, and to keep them occupied.
2:03:29 Family celebration
Jefferson stands before the plantation and delivers a speech. President Madison sent a flag to Monticello, which symbolizes the completion of the dome. He says that the children of Monticello will be leaders and stresses the importance of education. He says they will begin building the University of Virginia.
2:04:43 Entertaining the children
Jefferson shows children some artifacts that he has, like Mastodon skulls and Chief Headdresses. Martha enters to tell her father that Mr. Randolph has brought Mr. Batiste and Mr. Bacon for their meeting. Jefferson tells Martha that he is already engaged in a meeting, but Sally tells the children to go outside so the meeting can be held.
2:05:24 Announcing poverty
The men are there to discuss the cost of the university. It has been a very long time since any of the workers at Monticello or the University have been paid, and they are asking for compensation. Mr. Randolph becomes very upset and yells at the gentlemen for asking for this money, saying they are "crippled by debt." Jefferson apologizes for this tirade and asks them to leave as it isn't a good time. Sally enters and asks Jefferson where the new books came from, which he claims are for the University. Martha insists that her father can't keep spending, and he says "God will provide."
2:07:51 Randolph over the edge
Jefferson looks out the window, while planning Mr. DuPont's arrival and sees Mr. Randolph running around with his shirt off, screaming. Martha runs outside to help, and Mr. Randolph falls on the ground, crying.
2:08:26 Working in the garden
Sally, Mr. Jefferson, and other slaves work in the garden.
2:08:40 The DuPonts
The DuPonts arrive by horse and buggy. They have arrived early, and Mr. Jefferson is very excited to see them. Mr. DuPont recognizes Sally and says it is lovely to see her again. Mr. DuPont introduces his grandsons. Jefferson asks Mr. DuPont to bring the flowers to the kitchen, so that they could use them for their afternoon tea. He then reiterates how excited he is to see Mr. DuPont and leaves with Sally and Harriet. Harriet and Mr. DuPont's American grandson make a lot of eye contact. The grandson comments that Jefferson is eccentric, and Mr. DuPont says he is hopefully still wealthy, as well.
2:10:53 Scurrying in the kitchen
Sally and other slaves are in the kitchen trying to prepare the meal. They are out of a lot of ingredients, and Harriet comments on how all of the towels in the house have holes. Harriet asks Sally about the young man with the DuPonts and says he is "quite pleasing." Sally does not respond but asks her to bring the tea up to Mr. Jefferson. Harriet responds by screaming that they won't drink the tea and only the sick Mr. Randolph would.
2:11:55 Harriet in the dumps
Harriet's mother requests her to serve the guests downstairs, one of whom is Mr DuPont, a very important friend of President Jefferson. Harriet talks back to her mother, uncomfortable with the situation because of an awkward situation between her and one of the young men at the table.
2:12:59 Dual intrigues
Jefferson and Mr. Randolph, on the one hand, and DuPont and his relative, on the other, both talk separately about how and when to broach their financial needs.
2:13:30 Harriet and her mother
Harriet's mother tells her firmly to go to her room to get dressed properly.
2:14:12 When Harriet meets William
Harriet bumps into William by chance, and introductions are made. William seems enchanted with her and, complimenting her appearance, he asks if he can accompany her to dinner. She declines that invitation but takes him up on a date for the next day.
2:15:30 Sally remembers
Sally orders Harriet to take off the dress, Harriet glares at Sally, and mockingly dances away, causing Sally to remember the dance at which she and Jefferson began their relationship.
2:15:50 Harriet and William get it on
Sally and William stroll through a verdant meadow, chatting. William mentions that he wants to take her to Philadelphia, to uncover her history. Harriet and William kiss passionately.
2:16:29 Harriet's dreams
Harriet tells her mother how she feels about William and how he can open the door to a good life for her, one with a family and a home. Her mother reminds her that she is part black and that she can't forget that she will always be judged for that and never fully accepted.
2:18:40 The mistake
William says that he is falling in love with Harriet, then learns that she is actually considered a slave even though she looks white.
2:19:50 Dual intrigues uncovered
Jefferson and Dupont recognize their identical schemes but reconcile as good friends.
2:21:02 Harriet crushed
William aggressively confronts Harriet, upset because he felt deceived that she didn't make it clear she wasn't white. Her brother Beverly rushes over and throws William to the ground, putting him in his place. Sally then tells him that he will never again treat one of the slaves in that way in Monticello.
2:22:27 DuPonts depart
The DuPonts go on their way.
2:23:00 Lesson learned?
Jefferson tells Harriet that "we are sometimes hurt by things we do not say, when we fail to tell the truth." Harriet questions Jefferson on what truth.
2:23:15 Shaky times
Jefferson tells Sally that she is strong and that he has come to depend on her strength. He also reminds her that he is an old man.
2:25:19 Deeper into debt
In financial trouble, Jefferson doesn't help himself, simply incurring more and more debt.
2:25:25 The selling begins
The "harsh reality" hits: Jefferson painfully sees his property bundled up for the auctioneer.
2:26:30 Selling the books
Martha asks Jefferson how much he got for the books. He tells her that it is a private affair. She says that if it is not more than $50,000, they will not have enough to hold off the bank.
2:26:54 Martha brings the bad news
"We are bankrupt."
2:29:01 Telling the slaves
Jefferson tells the slaves that running the plantation the way it has been going is no longer sustainable because of the financial crisis and that he must sell them all off to other slave owners. He apologizes profusely, and the slaves are devastated.
2:31:31 Auction
In a poignant scene accompanied by dramatic music the slaves are auctioned off, presumably to owners that will not be as kind as Jefferson.
2:32:13 Exodus
Sally looks on as the slaves are carted off the plantation in distress.
2:34:25 Goodbye to children
Jefferson says goodbye to Harriet and Beverly, whom he was very fond of.
2:35:36 Lonely survivor
Jefferson alone in a bare room as the children leave.
2:37:04 Sally questions
Fifty years old, children gone, Sally questions her legacy.
2:37:29 Son Tom returns
Tom tells Sally that he wants her to come home with him. Tom meets Jefferson. Jefferson takes to the young man and offers him a fob to the watch Sally had given him when he left. Sally tells Tom that she cannot leave, and Tom understands.
2:41:00 Gardening again
Jefferson and Sally walk through the garden arm in arm until their pleasant moment is interrupted by Martha.
2:41:59 More bad news from Martha
Monticello is about to be foreclosed by the bank. Jefferson goes into a state of shock and falls down to the ground.
2:42:59 Deathbed
Jefferson lies on his deathbed with Martha by his side. Sally then comes in to be with him. Jefferson tells her to forgive him for not telling her enough that he has always loved her. The clock is shown ticking, and as it passes midnight the day becomes July 4th, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
2:44:58 Death
Martha and Sally mute sentinels beside the body.
2:45:21 The last round: Sally and Martha
Martha and Sally discuss his will. The only thing Martha seems concerned about is the fact that he left no financial inheritance. Martha tells Sally that she is not mentioned on the will, other than the slave inventory list. Martha is upset that Jefferson has not provided for her. Martha tells Sally to look at her when she speaks to her. Sally replies, "No, look at me." She tells Martha that they are of the same blood and that she can't deny her or sell her. Sally shows Martha a letter of emancipation that Jefferson had given her. She has been free since she went to Paris. Martha thinks she is foolish for not leaving, but Sally explains her loyalty and devotion to the President kept her there.
2:50:08 Sally at the tomb
Sally pays her respects at Jefferson's tomb and, thinking outloud, says, "I must entrust my story to my children now, so perhaps they will pass down the history of who they are and how they came to be."
2:51:05 The broken swing
Visual allusion to the opening scene in the film.
2:51:14 Concluding text