Antoineonline.com : In defense of thomas jefferson (9780312561000) : William G. Hyland Jr. : Books
  Login | Register En  |  Fr
Antoine Online

In Defense Of Thomas Jefferson

by William G. Hyland Jr.
Our price: LBP 46,200Unavailable
*Contact us to request a special order. Price may vary.
I Add to my wishlist
|

Product Details

  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
  • Publishing date: 09/06/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780312561000
  • ISBN: 0312561008

Synopsis

The belief that Thomas Jefferson had an affair and fathered a child (or children) with slave Sally Hemings---and that such an allegation was proven by DNA testing?has become so pervasive in American popular culture that it is not only widely accepted but taught to students as historical fact. But as William G. Hyland Jr. demonstrates, this ?fact” is nothing more than the accumulation of salacious rumors and irresponsible scholarship over the years, much of it inspired by political grudges, academic opportunism, and the trend of historical revisionism that seeks to drag the reputation of the Founding Fathers through the mud. In this startling and revelatory argument, Hyland shows not only that the evidence against Jefferson is lacking, but that in fact he is entirely innocent of the charge of having sexual relations with Hemings.

Historians have the wrong Jefferson. Hyland, an experienced trial lawyer, presents the most reliable historical evidence while dissecting the unreliable, and in doing so he cuts through centuries of unsubstantiated charges. The author reminds us that the DNA tests identified Eston Hemings, Sally’s youngest child, as being merely the descendant of a ?Jefferson male.” Randolph Jefferson, the president’s wayward, younger brother with a reputation for socializing among the Monticello slaves, emerges as the most likely of several possible candidates. Meanwhile, the author traces the evolution of this rumor about Thomas Jefferson back to the allegation made by one James Callendar, a ?drunken ruffian” who carried a grudge after unsuccessfully lobbying the president for a postmaster appointment---and who then openly bragged of ruining Jefferson’s reputation. Hyland also delves into Hemings family oral histories that go against the popular rumor, as well as the ways in which the Jefferson rumors were advanced by less-than-historical dramas and by flawed scholarly research often shaped by political agendas.

Reflecting both a layperson’s curiosity and a lawyer’s precision, Hyland definitively puts to rest the allegation of the thirty-eight-year liaison between Jefferson and Hemings. In doing so, he reclaims the nation’s third president from the arena of Hollywood-style myth and melodrama and gives his readers a unique opportunity to serve as jurors on this enduringly fascinating episode in American history.

William G. Hyland Jr., a native of Virginia, received his B.A. from the University of Alabama and a J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. A former prosecutor, Hyland is a trial lawyer with over twenty-six years of litigation experience. His publications have appeared in the law journals of the University of Texas and University of Richmond, as well as in the American Journal of Trial Advocacy, including his article, ?A Civil Action: Hemings v. Jefferson.” Before law school, he worked with a Top Secret security clearance for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in Washington, D.C. Hyland serves on Florida’s Judicial Nominating Commission and is a member of the Virginia and New York Historical Societies. He now lives and writes in Tampa Bay, Florida.

The belief that Thomas Jefferson had an affair and fathered a child (or children) with slave Sally Hemings?and that such an allegation was proven by DNA testing?has become so pervasive in American popular culture that it is not only widely accepted but taught to students as historical fact. But as William G. Hyland, Jr. demonstrates, this ?fact” is nothing more than the accumulation of salacious rumors and irresponsible scholarship over the years, much of it inspired by political grudges, academic opportunism, and the trend of historical revisionism that seeks to drag the reputation of the Founding Fathers through the mud. In this startling and revelatory argument, Hyland shows not only that the evidence against Jefferson is lacking, but that in fact he is entirely innocent of the charge of having sexual relations with Hemings.

Historians have the wrong Jefferson. Hyland, an experienced trial lawyer, presents the most reliable historical evidence while dissecting the unreliable, and in doing so he cuts through centuries of unsubstantiated charges. The author reminds us that the DNA tests identified Eston Hemings, Sally’s youngest child, as being merely the descendant of a ?Jefferson male.” Randolph Jefferson, the president’s wayward, younger brother with a reputation for socializing among the Monticello slaves, emerges as the most likely of several possible candidates. Meanwhile, the author traces the evolution of this rumor about Thomas Jefferson back to the allegation made by one James Callendar, a ?drunken ruffian” who carried a grudge after unsuccessfully lobbying the president for a postmaster appointment?and who then openly bragged of ruining Jefferson’s reputation. Hyland also delves into Hemings family oral histories that go against the popular rumor, as well as the ways in which the Jefferson rumors were advanced by less-than-historical dramas and by flawed scholarly research often shaped by political agendas.

Reflecting both a layperson’s curiosity and a lawyer’s precision, Hyland definitively puts to rest the allegation of the thirty-eight-year liaison between Jefferson and Hemings. In doing so, he reclaims the nation’s third president from the arena of Hollywood-style myth and melodrama and gives his readers a unique opportunity to serve as jurors on this enduringly fascinating episode in American history.

?The case [Hyland] makes is persuasive and in my view well presented, and it’s a historically important project.”?Peter Rodman, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and author of Presidential Command: Power, Leadership, and the Making of Foreign Policy from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush

?[Hyland’s] approach to the alleged Jefferson-Hemings relationship is ingenious and he has made what I judge to be an irrefutable case.”?Professor Forrest McDonald, History Professor Emeritus, University of Alabama, and 16th Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities, and author of The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson and The American Presidency: An Intellectual History

?Hyland’s well-written book is a breath of fresh air . . . In the courtroom where undocumented speculation and hearsay are not allowed, Jefferson will receive a fair trial.”?W. McKenzie Wallenborn, M.D., president of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society and Clinical Professor (Retired), University of Virginia School of Medicine

?As a practicing civil litigator and former prosecutor, Hyland casts a critical lawyer’s eye over the two-hundred-year old question of whether Thomas Jefferson had a romantic, sexual liaison with his servant Sally Hemings. Using what would be acceptable in a court of law as his standard for accuracy, Hyland painstakingly separates revisionist ideology from historical accuracy. In page after page, Hyland dissects just how evidence was manipulated to reach a predetermined yet utterly false verdict of guilty. Thankfully, Hyland’s book once and for all?in a convincingly unemotional fashion?clearly establishes that not Thomas Jefferson, but rather his brother Randolph or one of Randolph’s sons, was the father of Sally Hemings’s children.”?John Works Jr., former president of the Monticello Association and lineal descendant of Thomas Jefferson

?A well-written and provocative lawyer’s brief challenging the popular story that Thomas Jefferson fathered a child by his household slave Sally Hemings. Hyland has assembled a mass of forensic evidence to refute the saga much favored by revisionist historians and novelists, who were building on the testimonies of Jefferson’s political enemies from his own lifetime. Like the litigation attorney he is, Hyland argues a formidable case before a jury?readers trying to reach a verdict.”?Peter Grose, former executive editor at The New York Times and Foreign Affairs and author of Operation Rollback: America’s Secret War Behind the Iron Curtain

?Hyland’s book is well researched with material from many sources. It is a powerful insight . . . As assistant to Dr. Foster, the DNA study coordinator, I can reveal that the DNA proved only that the Hemings descendant had Jefferson DNA that supported their oral family claim that they descended from a ?Jefferson uncle,’ meaning Randolph Jefferson.”?Herbert Barger, Jefferson family historian


In just a few easy steps below, you can become an online reviewer.
You'll be able to make changes before you submit your review.

  • Outstanding case study of the topic of Jefferson's paternity
    From Amazon

    Mr. Hyland's book provides a well-written, logical, and technically supported review of an issue which has been abused by the politically-correct crowd and those intent on rewriting history...namely, his alleged paternity of his slave's children as initially published in 1802 by a political muckraker. The issue grew legs after a highly controversial and misleading publication of the dna test and the possibility of Jefferson's paternity and spawned several books and articles denigrating Jefferson's character, motivations, and value to our country, all the while using a misleading application of said dna test, hear-say, innuendo and imagination as the mainstay of their assumptions. Hyland brings witnesses for and against the defendant, and discusses their significance to the case; their testimony being their written statements (or books) on the subject of Jefferson's character and actions. Most interesting and surprising are those allied against Jefferson. There is an apparent concerted effort and collusion between an eminent Jeffersonian history scholar at the university Jefferson founded, together with individuals at the foundation responsible for the maintenance of Jefferson's home and other noted history and law professors, all intent on denigrating Jefferson's legacy and his effect on our nation for reasons not quite clear. There is some allusion to an effort at moral equivalency with the timing of the Jefferson/Hemings dna release coinciding with the Clinton impeachment. Then there are those who are apparently intent on making Jefferson the posterboy for racial inequality, mysogeny, and miscegenation and making up history, or dismissing documented history, to effect their ends. Throughout the book the underlying idea is that Jefferson is being assaulted by loosely termed (and in some cases discredited) "historians" with the idea of "presentism"; or a manner of reviewing and judging the subject through the glasses of our present social myopia instead of basing the history on known facts from another place in time. It is one thing to assume that because one child of Hemings carried a Jefferson paternal haplotype (along with about 24 other sexually mature male Jeffersons) that he was related to a Jefferson; it is another thing entirely to base one's credibilty on the available facts and decree that Jefferson fathered any or all Hemings' children. This book is a refreshing new look at this issue without the emotional, racial, and political foment that has been wrought by those with an axe to grind.

  • What does the jury say?
    From Amazon

    I write this review as a reader who was dissatisfied with this book, and as one who enjoys responding to Herb Barger's pendantic diatribes. I agree with the reviewer who complains that Hyland's book is full of historical errors. This is not scholarly history, and many of the facts are out of context or sloppily presented. The research is extremely weak, and few, if any primary resources are cited. The truth is that this book is not history. It is an argument, a lawyer's brief. However, I think the book is worth reading, if for no better reason than it clearly and rationally outlines many of the reasons why some people can not accept the alternative point of view. Mr. Hyland defends the opinion of Herb Barger and the other defenders of Jefferson's reputation as a lawyer would. In a court of law, one needs only to defend his client by introducing doubt, but proof is not required. I think that Hyland does a wonderful job of introducing doubt, and does a good job of keeping the jury undecided, but his book does not constitute proof nor even a strong argument. Stronger, more thoroughly researched, and better presented arguments have been made by the opposing side. The best chapters are those that explain what the DNA evidence really proves, the political background to Madison Hemings' interview for Life Among the Lowly, and why Randolph Jefferson is a good alternative candidate. However, why Randolph Jefferson was never blamed by the family and has only become a candidate since the DNA evidence suggested a Jefferson fathered Eston Hemings is never discussed. Why drag the name of the Carr brothers through the mud, especially as Randolph died before his brother and had less to lose by reputation? The weakest chapters are the first ones, particularly the unsupported arguments that Jefferson's health was too poor,and the oft repeated family stories, which are not weighed with the same level of scepticism as Madison Hemings'. The attempts to demean Annette Gordon Reed and Lucia Stanton, among others come across as offensive, particularly as the source of these stories appears to be Herb Barger! Rather than attack these people on a personal level, which happens repeatedly in this book, I would have preferred stronger debate of the facts. There are better and shorter books that defend Jefferson and are worth reading. It is clear that Hyland borrows heavily from them. I'm sure that Herb would be willing to provide a list.

  • An Ugly Book
    From Amazon

    It would take at least two books to address all the inaccuracies in William G. Hyland Jr.'s poorly written book. But wait, those books have been written. For anyone interested in the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, I highly recommend that after reading Hyland's book you read or re-read Annette Gordon-Reed's two books: "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy," and "The Hemings of Monticello: An American Family." Gordon-Reed demolishes Hyland's arguments that Thomas Jefferson was not the father of Sally Hemings children. Hyland falls into the same mindset as those who argued and continue to argue against the Jefferson-Hemings relationship. Specifically, (1) Hyland discounts the statements of Madison Hemings and other African Americans and accepts without question those of Jefferson's white relatives and other whites, (2) He falls back on the character defense that posits that Jefferson was too refined and sophisticated to have a sexual relationship with a slave. Really? Jefferson owned from 150 to 200 slaves for most of his adult life. He had slaves who ran away hunted down and brought back to Monticello. He had "uppity" slaves whipped. And, unlike other Virginians, such as Edward Coles, he freed only a handful of slaves (guess which ones?) So much for the character defense. (3) When the DNA evidence linked a Jefferson to being the father of Eston Hemings, thereby demolishing the Jefferson apologists favorite poster boys--Samuel and/or Peter Carr--for fatherhood of Sally's children, Hyland trots out Randolph Jefferson based in part on a laughable genetic hypothesis as the father. But Hyland's most egregious efforts are reserved for character attacks on Gordon-Reed and other Jefferson scholars. Hyland comes across as mean-spirited and paranoid. The attacks have the same tone as those on Sally Hemings' character by James Callender and contemporary Thomas Jefferson paternity deniers.

  • If you want the truth about "revisionist" history read this book!
    From Amazon

    The last 40 years in American historiography have seen the rise of the "revisionist" historian. These historians take a political stance and ramrod all history through this prism. The larger issues of race and gender as well as the "hot potato" of slavery has clouded the judgment of many people when considering the EVIDENCE of the Jefferson-Hemmings "affair". They want to take down the heroic image of a "rich, white, man" and elevate the stature of a poor slave woman. This is all well and good IF and ONLY IF the evidence bears this out. Unfortunately for many paternity believers, the historical evidence points toward another Jefferson as the father of Eston Hemmings (the DNA match). We can see the same brand of revisionism at work in communist theory "popular histories", feminist theory histories, and queer theory histories that manipulate the evidence to prove Jefferson raped a 14 year old slave, or Michelangelo was homosexual, or Julius Caesar was attempting to overthrow Rome's bourgeoisie and thus was murdered. Believe it or not, books have been written attempting to prove all this. As someone who reads a lot of history, I can give the reader of this review an easy way to tell if you are reading good, solid history, or revisionist BS -- if the author is "psychoanalyzing" the person in question it's bunk. Ask any psychologist if they would feel comfortable offering authoritative statements about a person they have never had "on their couch." Historians can't use Freudian approaches to come to new conclusions about people who lived centuries ago. If you think Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Hemmings, read this book. Then read a pro-paternity book. Ask yourself who uses more evidence and who is relying on psychological interpretations and modern ideas to establish historical FACT.

  • The Other Side
    From Amazon

    I found it amazing that everything about the alleged Sally Hemmings affair with Mr. Jefferson was open to serious question. I could not believe that so-called historians had failed to present all the evidence and the meaning of the evidence. It appears that most present day historians are writing to cash in and are on the level of the tabloids. I am so glad this book was written. It gives the full picture and then you can make up your own mind.

Close
Working on your request