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Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:14 pm
by Symmetry
What do you think?

Sarah "Sally" Hemings (Charles City County, Virginia, circa 1773 – Charlottesville, Virginia, 1835) was an enslaved woman of mixed race owned by President Thomas Jefferson through his wife's inheritance. The youngest of six siblings by the planter John Wayles and his slave Betty Hemings, Hemings was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife Martha Wayles Skelton.[1] The Hemings' and all of Wayles' slaves were inherited by the Jeffersons a year after their marriage and were taken to Monticello. The Hemings children and their descendants were trained as domestic servants and artisans.
In 1787, Sally Hemings at the age of 14 was chosen to accompany Mary (Polly), the youngest daughter of Jefferson, to Paris to rejoin her father; the widower was serving as the United States Ambassador to France. She spent two years there. Hemings and Jefferson are believed to have begun a sexual relationship then or soon after their return to Monticello. She had a total of six children of record born into slavery; four survived to adulthood and were noted for their resemblance to Jefferson. Sally Hemings served in Jefferson's household as a domestic servant until his death.
The historical question of whether Jefferson was the father of her children has been known as the Jefferson-Hemings controversy. Following renewed historic analysis and a 1998 DNA study that found a match between the Jefferson male line and a descendant of her last son, Eston Hemings, a consensus among historians supports that the widower Jefferson fathered her son Eston Hemings and likely all her children.[2] Some historians disagree.[3]
Even though he was deeply in debt, Jefferson freed all of Sally Hemings' children: Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston, as they came of age. They were seven-eighths European in ancestry, and three of the four entered white society as adults. Their descendants identified as white.[4][5] As the historian Edmund S. Morgan has noted, "Hemings herself was withheld from auction and freed at last by Jefferson’s daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, who was, of course, her niece."[6] Hemings lived her last nine years with her two younger sons in Charlottesville, and saw a grandchild born in the house her sons owned. After their mother's death in 1835, Eston and Madison Hemings migrated with their families to Chillicothe in the free state of Ohio.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:12 am
by /
It's hard to know for sure the specific circumstances. I suppose it also depends on how you would define the word "rape" at the time.
Statutory rape? Not likely, I believe the age of consent in most of Europe at the time was quite low; somewhere around 12 for girls.
Legally defined rape? Also probably not given the rights of slaves at the time.
Forced sexual acts? Possibly.
Exploiting an unequal power dynamic to compel one to sexual acts? Probably.

Anyhow, I wish I could embed this video.
http://www.comedycentral.com/video-clip ... ry-website

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:13 am
by chang50
Symmetry wrote:What do you think?

Sarah "Sally" Hemings (Charles City County, Virginia, circa 1773 – Charlottesville, Virginia, 1835) was an enslaved woman of mixed race owned by President Thomas Jefferson through his wife's inheritance. The youngest of six siblings by the planter John Wayles and his slave Betty Hemings, Hemings was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife Martha Wayles Skelton.[1] The Hemings' and all of Wayles' slaves were inherited by the Jeffersons a year after their marriage and were taken to Monticello. The Hemings children and their descendants were trained as domestic servants and artisans.
In 1787, Sally Hemings at the age of 14 was chosen to accompany Mary (Polly), the youngest daughter of Jefferson, to Paris to rejoin her father; the widower was serving as the United States Ambassador to France. She spent two years there. Hemings and Jefferson are believed to have begun a sexual relationship then or soon after their return to Monticello. She had a total of six children of record born into slavery; four survived to adulthood and were noted for their resemblance to Jefferson. Sally Hemings served in Jefferson's household as a domestic servant until his death.
The historical question of whether Jefferson was the father of her children has been known as the Jefferson-Hemings controversy. Following renewed historic analysis and a 1998 DNA study that found a match between the Jefferson male line and a descendant of her last son, Eston Hemings, a consensus among historians supports that the widower Jefferson fathered her son Eston Hemings and likely all her children.[2] Some historians disagree.[3]
Even though he was deeply in debt, Jefferson freed all of Sally Hemings' children: Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston, as they came of age. They were seven-eighths European in ancestry, and three of the four entered white society as adults. Their descendants identified as white.[4][5] As the historian Edmund S. Morgan has noted, "Hemings herself was withheld from auction and freed at last by Jefferson’s daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, who was, of course, her niece."[6] Hemings lived her last nine years with her two younger sons in Charlottesville, and saw a grandchild born in the house her sons owned. After their mother's death in 1835, Eston and Madison Hemings migrated with their families to Chillicothe in the free state of Ohio.


Yes,I believe he was on two counts Sally was unable to give informed consent freely as a slave and as a minor.Obviously the societal norms 200 years ago were vastly different to now,but the answer to the question asked is,yes.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:19 am
by Symmetry
/ wrote:It's hard to know for sure the specific circumstances. I suppose it also depends on how you would define the word "rape" at the time.
Statutory rape? Not likely, I believe the age of consent in most of Europe at the time was quite low; somewhere around 12 for girls.
Legally defined rape? Also probably not given the rights of slaves at the time.
Forced sexual acts? Possibly.
Exploiting an unequal power dynamic to compel one to sexual acts? Probably.

Anyhow, I wish I could embed this video.
http://www.comedycentral.com/video-clip ... ry-website


If she couldn't freely consent, even within the narrow strictures of the time? It was certainly within his power to make her free.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:30 am
by /
chang50 wrote: Yes,I believe he was on two counts Sally was unable to give informed consent freely as a slave and as a minor.Obviously the societal norms 200 years ago were vastly different to now,but the answer to the question asked is,yes.

Not to defend anyone's actions, but aside from the morality of the act, do you believe the legality of of a persons acts be changed in retrospect?
For example, there was a time when killing someone in a duel wasn't considered illegal. Currently it is considered murder, but does that mean everyone who killed someone in a duel is retroactively a murderer in your opinion?
Symmetry wrote:If she couldn't freely consent, even within the narrow strictures of the time? It was certainly within his power to make her free.
Indeed so, and I don't believe what slave owners at the time did was moral, still it may have been legal.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:32 am
by jonesthecurl
I think she could have stayed in France had she wished.
Not voting either way just making a comment.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:33 am
by Symmetry
/ wrote:
chang50 wrote: Yes,I believe he was on two counts Sally was unable to give informed consent freely as a slave and as a minor.Obviously the societal norms 200 years ago were vastly different to now,but the answer to the question asked is,yes.

Not to defend anyone's actions, but aside from the morality of the act, do you believe the legality of of a persons acts be changed in retrospect?
For example, there was a time when killing someone in a duel wasn't considered illegal. Currently it is considered murder, but does that mean everyone who killed someone in a duel is retroactively a murderer in your opinion?
Symmetry wrote:If she couldn't freely consent, even within the narrow strictures of the time? It was certainly within his power to make her free.
Indeed so, and I don't believe what slave owners at the time did was moral, still it may have been legal.


Legal rape is rape.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:41 am
by /
Symmetry wrote:
Legal rape is rape.

Then I suppose yes, under that definition Thomas Jefferson probably did rape her.

BTW, just to clarify my position. I'm not trying to do some knee-jerk reaction patriot routine here, I'm honestly interested in the discussion from a thought-exercise perspective.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:47 am
by chang50
/ wrote:
chang50 wrote: Yes,I believe he was on two counts Sally was unable to give informed consent freely as a slave and as a minor.Obviously the societal norms 200 years ago were vastly different to now,but the answer to the question asked is,yes.

Not to defend anyone's actions, but aside from the morality of the act, do you believe the legality of of a persons acts be changed in retrospect?
For example, there was a time when killing someone in a duel wasn't considered illegal. Currently it is considered murder, but does that mean everyone who killed someone in a duel is retroactively a murderer in your opinion?
Symmetry wrote:If she couldn't freely consent, even within the narrow strictures of the time? It was certainly within his power to make her free.
Indeed so, and I don't believe what slave owners at the time did was moral, still it may have been legal.


The OP did not ask about the legality of TJ's actions,there may have been times when rape was legal but it was still rape..by the same token there have been times when murder was legal,indeed governments engage in it regularly to this day.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:52 am
by Symmetry
/ wrote:
Symmetry wrote:
Legal rape is rape.

Then I suppose yes, under that definition Thomas Jefferson probably did rape her.

BTW, just to clarify my position. I'm not trying to do some knee-jerk reaction patriot routine here, I'm honestly interested in the discussion from a thought-exercise perspective.


That's fair enough. Aside from the legalities, would it be fair to classify his behaviour as evil, under any normal understanding of the word?

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:00 am
by jonesthecurl
Well, I think that then we have to cnsider his whole attitude towards slavery.
I do have some interesting references - I'll get back when I dig em up.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:05 am
by Symmetry
jonesthecurl wrote:Well, I think that then we have to cnsider his whole attitude towards slavery.
I do have some interesting references - I'll get back when I dig em up.


Although opposed to the international slave trade, Jefferson sometimes bought slaves and often sold them.[179][180] After returning from France, he sold fifty slaves to pay the debts he had incurred there.[179][181] Ten years after the abolition of the American slave trade, Jefferson, again to pay his debts, sold slaves to his grandson.[182]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson#Slaves_and_slavery

Let's not be coy. The man was a slave trader,

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:11 am
by /
Symmetry wrote:
/ wrote:
Symmetry wrote:
Legal rape is rape.

Then I suppose yes, under that definition Thomas Jefferson probably did rape her.

BTW, just to clarify my position. I'm not trying to do some knee-jerk reaction patriot routine here, I'm honestly interested in the discussion from a thought-exercise perspective.


That's fair enough. Aside from the legalities, would it be fair to classify his behaviour as evil, under any normal understanding of the word?

I think it was good that he freed her, and possibly his children.
But yes, and even if only being held to his own declared ethics as a Christian deist, it was evil to commit adultery, to be influenced by lust and by greed, etc.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:16 am
by Symmetry
/ wrote:
Symmetry wrote:
/ wrote:
Symmetry wrote:
Legal rape is rape.

Then I suppose yes, under that definition Thomas Jefferson probably did rape her.

BTW, just to clarify my position. I'm not trying to do some knee-jerk reaction patriot routine here, I'm honestly interested in the discussion from a thought-exercise perspective.


That's fair enough. Aside from the legalities, would it be fair to classify his behaviour as evil, under any normal understanding of the word?

I think it was good that he freed her, and possibly his children.
But yes, and even if only being held to his own declared ethics as a Christian deist, it was evil to commit adultery, to be influenced by lust and by greed, etc.


He didn't free her though.

Of the hundreds of slaves he owned, Jefferson formally freed only two slaves in his lifetime: Hemings' older brothers Robert, who had to buy his freedom, and James Hemings (who was required to train his brother Peter to get his freedom). He freed five slaves in his will - all males from the extended Hemings family, including Madison and Eston Hemings, his two "natural" children. Harriet was the only female slave he allowed to go free.[21] In addition to manumission for the Hemings men in his will, he petitioned the legislature to allow them to stay in the state. No documentation has been found for Sally Hemings' emancipation.[17][18]

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:19 am
by jonesthecurl
Symmetry wrote:
jonesthecurl wrote:Well, I think that then we have to cnsider his whole attitude towards slavery.
I do have some interesting references - I'll get back when I dig em up.


Although opposed to the international slave trade, Jefferson sometimes bought slaves and often sold them.[179][180] After returning from France, he sold fifty slaves to pay the debts he had incurred there.[179][181] Ten years after the abolition of the American slave trade, Jefferson, again to pay his debts, sold slaves to his grandson.[182]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson#Slaves_and_slavery

Let's not be coy. The man was a slave trader,


yes he was. He recommended it as a way of making money. I just don't have that reference to hand as I sit here watching Gordon Ramsay on Tv, writing lines to try to shoehorn more stage time for my character in someone else's play, and drinking a beer.
Nevertheless, he wasn't JUST a slave-owning git.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:22 am
by /
Symmetry wrote:He didn't free her though.

Oh sorry, I'm a bit loopy from lack of sleep.
Reread.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:27 am
by Symmetry
/ wrote:
Symmetry wrote:He didn't free her though.

Oh sorry, I'm a bit loopy from lack of sleep.
Reread.


No problem, my question stands.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:31 am
by swimmerdude99
I love how one-sided your poll is lol

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:35 am
by jonesthecurl
His point is exactly that.
You can vote, she couldn't.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:36 am
by Symmetry
swimmerdude99 wrote:I love how one-sided your poll is lol


What option would you like to see? It's tough to justify enslaving and raping a 14 year old girl.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:42 am
by Symmetry
jonesthecurl wrote:
Symmetry wrote:
jonesthecurl wrote:Well, I think that then we have to cnsider his whole attitude towards slavery.
I do have some interesting references - I'll get back when I dig em up.


Although opposed to the international slave trade, Jefferson sometimes bought slaves and often sold them.[179][180] After returning from France, he sold fifty slaves to pay the debts he had incurred there.[179][181] Ten years after the abolition of the American slave trade, Jefferson, again to pay his debts, sold slaves to his grandson.[182]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson#Slaves_and_slavery

Let's not be coy. The man was a slave trader,


yes he was. He recommended it as a way of making money. I just don't have that reference to hand as I sit here watching Gordon Ramsay on Tv, writing lines to try to shoehorn more stage time for my character in someone else's play, and drinking a beer.
Nevertheless, he wasn't JUST a slave-owning git.


Never said he was only that. I also said he was a rapist.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:45 am
by chang50
swimmerdude99 wrote:I love how one-sided your poll is lol


Surely the option to answer 'no' is allowed,even if it is impossible to justify..

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:47 am
by /
Symmetry wrote:
/ wrote:
Symmetry wrote:He didn't free her though.

Oh sorry, I'm a bit loopy from lack of sleep.
Reread.


No problem, my question stands.

As I said before, yes; some of his acts in this case should be considered evil.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:48 am
by jonesthecurl
I honestly suspect that there was love and respect mutually involved here.
Not gonna do massive research on this at this time of night. this is usually when I do my writing, which is currently how I earn my living.
But you caught my attention with a question that I'm currently interested in.
Unfortunately, unlike the creationist threads that I often post in late at night, I'm not expecting anything to leak over into my standup routine from this thread.

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:48 am
by Symmetry
chang50 wrote:
swimmerdude99 wrote:I love how one-sided your poll is lol


Surely the option to answer 'no' is allowed,even if it is impossible to justify..


there's the kitten option for people who object to the poll in general.