A two-part examination of the life of Thomas Jefferson, whose career as statesman and founding father, including authoring the Declaration of Independence and becoming the third President, places him in the pantheon of historic figures. With Sam Waterston as Jefferson. Narrated by Ossie Davis.

Thomas Jefferson - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 180 minutes

Premier: 1997-02-18

Thomas Jefferson - Thomas Jefferson Randolph - Netflix

Thomas Jefferson Randolph (September 12, 1792 – October 8, 1875) of Albemarle County was a planter and politician who served in the Virginia House of Delegates, was rector of the University of Virginia, and was a colonel in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He was notable as the oldest grandson of President Thomas Jefferson. He helped manage Monticello near the end of his grandfather's life and was executor of his estate. Since the late 20th century, Randolph has been notable for having been shown to give false information in telling the historian Henry Randall that his uncle Peter Carr (Thomas Jefferson's nephew) was the father of Sally Hemings' children. (His grandfather the president had been rumored to have children with Hemings.) Randolph was likely trying to deflect attention from his grandfather, Thomas Jefferson, as he admitted there were Hemings' children who strongly resembled the president. The Carr story was the basis for historians' denials of Jefferson's relationship from 1868 to 1998. Since the late 20th century and a DNA study disproving any Carr genetic connection to Eston Hemings, the youngest son of Sally Hemings, most historians accept that Jefferson had a long relationship with Sally Hemings and fathered her six children. Most scholars continue to hold that view, although a minority, including the 2001 Report of the Scholars Commission and Andrew Holowchak's 2013 book Framing a Legend, espouse a contrarian view of the Jefferson–Hemings controversy.

Thomas Jefferson - Jefferson–Hemings controversy - Netflix

she [Hemings] had children which resembled Mr. Jefferson so closely that it was plain that they had his blood in their veins. ... He said in one instance, a gentleman dining with Mr. Jefferson, looked so startled as he raised his eyes from the latter to the servant behind him, that his discovery of the resemblance was perfectly obvious to all.

The historian Henry S. Randall, in an 1868 letter to James Parton, also a historian, wrote that “The 'Dusky Sally Story'--the story that Mr. Jefferson kept one of his slaves, (Sally Hemings) as his mistress and had children by her, was once extensively believed by respectable men...” According to Randall, after Thomas Jefferson had died, his oldest grandson Randolph talked with the historian and personally noted the strong resemblance of the Hemings' children to his grandfather, their master. Randall recounted that Randolph had said the following:

In the 1850s, Randolph told the biographer Henry Randall that Jefferson's nephew Peter Carr had been the father of Hemings' children. He also said that his mother had told him that Jefferson had been absent for 15 months prior to the birth of one of Sally Hemings' children, so could not have been the father. Randall passed this family history on to James Parton, and suggested his own confirmation of the material. At the request of Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Randall had avoided any discussion of Sally Hemings and her children in his own 1858 biography of Jefferson. The two elements of family oral history were the basis for Parton's denial of Jefferson's paternity in his 1874 biography of the president, and his position was adopted by the succeeding 20th-century historians Merrill Peterson and Douglass Adair. In addition, Randolph's sister Ellen wrote to her husband identifying Samuel Carr, Peter's brother, as the father of Hemings' children. The 20th-century historian Dumas Malone used this letter to refute Jefferson's paternity, and was the first to publish it in the 1970s in one of his volumes of the lengthy biography. Later 20th-century historians used Malone's extensive documentation of Jefferson's activities to determine that Jefferson was at Monticello for the conception of some of Hemings's children (he was absent for several days of the conception periods for Madison and Eston, and for half the conception period for Beverly; we have no records of Sally's residence during these periods). He recorded the children's births along with those of other slaves in his Farm Book, which was rediscovered and first published in the 1950s. In 1998, the Carrs were disproved as possible fathers of Eston Hemings, Sally's youngest son, by the results of a Y-DNA study of their male descendants; no genetic link existed between the Carr and Hemings lines for the descendants of Eston Hemings. The test results did show a match between the Jefferson male line and the descendant of Hemings, though it showed nothing about the descendants of Sally Hemings's other children. The historian Andrew Burstein has said, “[T]he white Jefferson descendants who established the family denial in the mid-nineteenth century cast responsibility for paternity on two Jefferson nephews (children of Jefferson’s sister) whose DNA was not a match. So, as far as can be reconstructed, there are no Jeffersons other than the president who had the degree of physical access to Sally Hemings that he did.”

Thomas Jefferson - References - Netflix