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They were in their teens as well as letters written by members of the Jefferson and Hemings families She has interviewed Hemings family descendants and with their cooperation initiating DNA testing and searched for possible descendants of Harriet HemingsThe eventful lives of Thomas Jefferson's daughters provide a uniue vantage point from which to examine the complicated patrimony of the American Revolution itself The richly interwoven story of these three strong women and their fight to shape their own destinies sheds new light on the ongoing movement toward human rights in America and on the personal and political legacy of one of our most controversial Founding Fathers. Catherine Kerrison tells the stories of Martha Jefferson Randolf Maria Jefferson Eppes and Harriet Hemings Thomas Jefferson s three daughters who survived to adulthood Their lives show that when their father declared all men created eual he meant literally menAfter losing his wife Jefferson accepted an appointment to represent the new nation in Paris Martha went with him and enjoyed the convent school she attended She made lifelong friends and experienced female leadership and a curriculum usually reserved for men Maria when called to join them put up resistance as she did with her studies harpsichord practice letter writing and There is no record of how her 14 year old auntslave Sally Hemings who accompanied her felt about the tripWith little guidance from their father or anyone else teenage Martha Maria and Sally had to make choices for the woman they would become Sally s daughter s Harriet s choices came later and she seems to have had some practical preparation Were there were any real choices for women Everything rested on their patriarch and marriage was but reuired for Martha Maria and Harriet It turns out that Sally for whom marriage was not an option made the best choice You learn how the education Martha gave her girls who were all but barred from Jefferson s library was of little use to them There is an illusion to the volatility of her husband In the end Jefferson s casual solution to his debt thrust her into poverty Maria is presented as seeking security but to me she sounds spoiled and entitled Kerrison presents letters and records posing that the Eppes Maria s marriage was a husband and wife team but another interpretation is that Eppes was catering to her willfulness With no letters or uotes for Harriet Kerrison pours over Jefferson s Farm Book which lists purchases sales products and slaves births and harvests for clues She visits sites and supposes what Harriet would have experienced thought and felt Thomas Jefferson is aloof from Martha and Maria and according to the lack of a record so from Sally and Harriet He designed Monticello for his convenience and not his family s His educational priorities were music and embroidery for Martha and Maria and spinning for Harriet While Martha eventually moved her family to the plantation she was not involved in managing the Plantation or its finances on which her future and that of their daughters dependedOne story found in snippets tells the sad story of the times After Maria s death her husband before re marriage sired a shadow family with Betsy Hemmings p 165 who was a wedding gift of Jefferson in 1797 p320 He is buried alongside Betsy p 166 Martha Randolf Jefferson on her death bed p 310 tells her children to allow Betsy Sally and another to essentially live in peace ie not disclose the Jefferson linkThis book must include every snatch of the original material that remains available on these three women The tedious detail of this type of research is shown in her description of trying to find a trace of Harriet s life in WashingtonThe book held my interest throughout There are drawings and photos of significant places and several portraits The photos of the HemingsJefferson grandchildren are stunning The index worked for me

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Jefferson's Daughters Three Sisters White and Black in a Young America

The remarkable untold story of Thomas Jefferson's three daughters two white and free one black and enslaved and the divergent paths they forged in a newly independent America Thomas Jefferson had three daughters Martha and Maria by his wife Martha Wayles Jefferson and Harriet by his slave Sally Hemings In Jefferson's Daughters Catherine Kerrison a scholar of early American and women's history recounts the remarkable journey of these three women and how their struggle to define themselves reflects both the possibilities and the limitations that resulted from the American Revolution Although the three women shared a father the similarities end there Martha and Maria receiv. I can not reccommend this book In fact I m somewhat shocked this was even printed in 2018 The information included is dated inaccurate and slavery apologist in toneThis biography while extremely approachable is heavily and not respectfully edited in respect to chattel slavery This biography includes 2 white women who exploited enslaved peoples and one enslaved person The enslaved person is presented as a labor exempt worker If an author is too fragile to acknowledge that enslaved peoples were never workers it doesn t bode well for the text The white women are never once clearly identified as slave ownersI know very little about the everyday life personal thoughts expectations customs and manners of southern white chattel slave owning women during this time period so that s interesting The clothing education and socialization expectations are all new and a fascinating addition to what I know about British and French women of comparable class and social standing The featured exchanges between Martha and her contemporaries at her French Boarding School over their lifetimes is enlightening Ms Kerrison mentions Annette Gordon Reed s groundbreaking research into The Hemings Family with great respect but seems to use the facts provided therein minimally and to flat effect Gone is the verbose richness and detail of setting which highlight the recounting of the histories of Martha and Maria Jefferson and their familiescontemporaries There seems to be a bare bones almost outline approach with facts connected but barely fleshed out with appropriate period detail Not many facts are known about any of these women and their lives but a much richer narrative is created for Martha and Maria Also as this is published in 2018 by a Professor of History and Women Gender Studies I expected the current verbiage of enslaved peoples which is now considered moderately standard in academia Those expectations were in vain Worse yet Kerrison actually adds the title slave to various enslaved peoples and never once the title slave owner in referencing the multiple slave owning white people in this book Example Slave Isaac Jefferson Whereas Thomas Jefferson is never once referred to as Slave Owner Thomas Jefferson While this treatment of enslaved peoples is not uncommon in historians who heavily study white slave owners it s still blatantly biased and a racist treatment of enslaved peoples There exist centuries of historical precedent to ignore dismiss and downplay the evils of chattel slavery in biographies of slave exploiting white people This text includes no mention of the methods white women used to exploit enslaved labor nor typical punishments enacted by white women towards enslaved people especially those in the house The author tries to insulate Martha and Maria from any hint of the exploitation that made up their normal daily lives They exploited enslaved peoples who they also held in captivity for their labor this is never even indirectly addressed It s bizarre If I m reading about this period in the UK about women of comparable class the roles of servants would be prominent as well as the names of personal attendants This lack results in the inclusion of inaccurate information about the lives and skills of Martha and Maria For example it s highly doubtful Martha or Maria had than a theoretical knowledge of cooking and household management as we understand these chores today Householdexploited slave labor management would largely have been handled first by Betty Hemings and then likely by Sally White wives and daughters on plantations like these planned menus and read aloud recipes to enslaved women who already knew the recipes by heartWhite women who had that much exploited labor at their disposal across multiple plantations didn t do much of anything That is after all the main purpose of stealing oppressing and exploiting whole families of people a desire to NOT labor yourself These women didn t labor beyond child birth They didn t suffer want or privation no matter how strained their circumstances The system of forced labor that was chattel slavery existed expressly so white women of this class could have no real expectations of labor either mental or physicalThese women weren t even responsible for their own kids They didn t breastfeed change diapers stay up at night with unsleeping babiestoddlerskids and would only have been minimally involved even in the care of sick children Enslaved women would have provided the vast majority of the care and discipline for Martha s large brood of kids None of this is mentioned or detailedThe narratives of enslaved peoples in the US feature white women directly oppressing enslaved peoples especially women working in the house White women were often instigators of slave punishments the sale of individuals away from their families and the sale of enslaved children fathered by white men These white women had an active not passive nor spectator role during this time period This well documented history is completely missing from this narrative with the exception of single story in which a daughter of Martha personally whips an enslaved womenThese facts are left out because the author wishes to distance Martha and Maria Jefferson from their harmful and exploitative behaviors These women lived and breathed exploitation and oppression Biographers must effectively place their subjects in their appropriate historical place and time Ms Kerrison has published multiple non fiction historiestexts on the lives expectations customs education and hobbies of southern slave owning white women during this time period Clearly she is aware of the role these women played in slavery that she would choose to edit that from a biography about white female slave owners is concerning This unfortunately calls into uestion the validity of all of the information provided in this text as it clearly is heavily edited to reflect the author s own bias prejudices and racism

Catherine Kerrison ¼ 3 summary

Ed a fine convent school education while they lived with their father during his diplomatic posting in Paris a hothouse of intellectual ferment whose celebrated salonnières are vividly brought to life in Kerrison's narrative Once they returned home however the sisters found their options limited by the laws and customs of early America Harriet Hemings followed a different path She escaped slavery apparently with the assistance of Jefferson himself Leaving Monticello behind she boarded a coach and set off for a decidedly uncertain future For this groundbreaking triple biography Kerrison has uncovered never before published documents written by the Jefferson sisters when. This is a definite must read for those who likes to read history especially American history Ever since I visited Monticello I have been fascinated with Martha Jefferson and Sally Hemmings This book even shared details of Maria Jefferson Thomas Jefferson s younger daughter whom nothing has been written much about I will admit that it wasn t till this past year that I realized that Thomas Jefferson had 2 daughters since not much was mentioned about Maria I didn t even know he had a third daughter till I read this book This is incredibly fascinating It is a historical research that is packed full of information about the three daughters that I am looking at history with a renewed interest This is not a novel by any means It embraces everything especially the issue of slavery and Jefferson s descendants who were born in slavery but left passing for white This is a heavily researched book on Jefferson and his impact on his daughters the people around him and while the rest of the nation celebrates his heritage as a founding father this book exposes his human flaws in the fact that he doesn t think his daughters have a voice in the new country It is an incredible read and one that I think would appeal to new readers to history as well as those who do research for a living Kerrison did a fine job of tying all the ends together in her research while admitting there is that is left to the ages because she doesn t have all the information What she has here is a great start and definitely information regarding Jefferson s daughters who ensured his comforts in his old age and made sure his legacies continued I personally think this is my favorite book so far on the Jefferson women I am enlightened now as to what his third daughter had endured when she left the plantation to be an independent woman While Harriet still remains shrouded in the veils of history Kerrison did her best to explain what Harriet had to endure as a slave as an unrecognized daughter of Jefferson and what might have happened to her once she left the plantation with her older brother Kerrison also devoted time to that time period where slaves would try to pass for white especially if they were lighter skinned It covers a sensitive subject that still resonates even today 200 years after the Revolution I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who is interested in history


10 thoughts on “Jefferson's Daughters Three Sisters White and Black in a Young America

  1. says:

    This book is either a biographical history of Thomas Jefferson's three daughters 2 white and 1 black or a commentary on the plight of women in the late 18th century and early 19th Whatever it is it's a disappointment As a history of

  2. says:

    Catherine Kerrison has a difficult task in this book She wants to tell us about the three daughters that Founding Father Thomas Jefferson rais

  3. says:

    I can not reccommend this book In fact I'm somewhat shocked this was even printed in 2018 The information included is dated inaccurate and slavery apologist in toneThis biography while extremely approachable is heavily and not respectfully edit

  4. says:

    Thomas Jefferson had three daughters two with his wife Martha and one with his slave Sally Hemings Jefferson's D

  5. says:

    This is a definite must read for those who likes to read history especially American history Ever since I visited Monticello I have been fascinated with Martha Jefferson and Sally Hemmings This book even shared details of Maria Jefferson Thoma

  6. says:

    A well written biography of Thomas Jefferson's three daughters Martha Maria and Harriet the first two born to his wife the third born to his slave Sally Hemings Martha has already been the subject of a full length biography but Maria who died as a young woman and Harriet who disappeared into obscurity after being freed have been given less

  7. says:

    I read this book slowly as I wanted time to research a few items that I'd read OMG The author outdid herself This has to be one of the best researched novels of Jefferson's daughters If you've read First Daughte

  8. says:

    Great history story regarding Jefferson's daughters and his life Much history on the white daughters speculation on the black daughter but at any rate I enjoyed the story Audio Version

  9. says:

    Catherine Kerrison tells the stories of Martha Jefferson Randolf Maria Jefferson Eppes and Harriet Hemings Thomas Jefferson‚

  10. says:

    Too longIt is rare that I declare a book too long but this book is indeed too long While it started off very well and was completely captivating the last third of the book ended in endless repetition That's got to be some sort of logical fallacy So here we have the story of Jefferson's three daughters Martha Maria and Harriet In the beginning we get lots of detail on Martha because he life is so well documented Maria's brief li