tative descendant’s ancestor than was someone unrelated to thernJefferson family. (That ratio is not quite Clinton’s 7.87 trillionrntimes more likely.) However, at least eight other male descendantsrnof Thomas Jefferson’s grandfather (and Field Jefferson’srnfather), Thomas Jefferson II, including President Jefferson’srnyounger brother Randolph and Randolph’s six sons, lived nearbyrnand stayed at Monticello regularly, so each of them is alsorn”100 times more likely” to be Eston’s or his putative son’s fatherrnthan someone unrelated. (Try that on your computer.)rnThe article makes no mention of Randolph Jefferson’s prolificrnline, any more than that of poor Madison Hemings. Couldrnthey have all died out by the time of the study? Randolph Jeffersonrnand his descendants were the majority of the Jeffersonrnfamily, and far closer to Thomas Jefferson by blood than eitherrnField Jefferson or any of Field’s descendants. Examination ofrnRandolph Jefferson’s male-line descendants either would haverngreatly multiplied the number of suspected slave abusers, or, ifrntheir Y chromosome differed from the presumed descendantsrnof Eston Hemings or Field Jefferson, would have destroyed anyrnconnection between Thomas Jefferson and Eston Hemings.rnOf course, there are also other “simple and probable” explanations,rnincluding the fact that Eston lived in the vicinity ofrnField Jefferson’s family and numerous Randolph Jeffersonrnprogeny imtil 1835, and therefore Eston’s descendants mayrnhave been the first to have the Field (or Randolph?) Jeffersonlikerngene. The geneticists admit this last possibility (withoutrnmentioning the Randolph Jefferson line, of course) but, “in thernabsence of historical evidence,” they consider it “unlikely.”rnOdd that the “absence of historical evidence” is noticed by thernscientists only at the end of their article.rnThere is also the possibility that any of the male-line descendantsrnof Field or Randolph Jefferson had relations witli any ofrnthe female Hemingses over the next 200 years, before or afterrnemancipation, thus introducing the Jeffersons’ Y chromosomernwithout the involvement of Thomas Jefferson or Sally Hemings.rnThe Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was not exactly a geneticrnmetiopolis.rnNow, let us throw in some other complications ignored by,rnor unknown to, the geneticists who wrote the article. ThernHemings family had not only been born to and lived with JohnrnWayles, Thomas Jefferson’s randy father-in-law, but also belongedrnto and lived with the heavily male Eppes family,rnWayles’ in-laws. Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Mary, whoserncompanion and maid was Sally Hemings, married John WaylesrnEppes, who himself was descended from both the Wayles andrnEppes families. As even Brodie admits in her book, the Wayles,rnEppes, and Jefferson familiesâ€”like the Wilkes family in GonernWith the Wmdâ€””always married their [first] cousins.” RandolphrnJefferson, the President’s brother, married Anna JeffersonrnLewis, their first cousin and also the sister of Charles LilburnrnLewis, who in tiirn married the President’s and Randolph Jefferson’srnsister, Lucy. Randolph’s son, Thomas Jefferson, Jr.,rnmarried Mary Randolph Lewis, Lucy Jefferson Lewis’s daughterrnand, therefore, his first cousin through two lines. Keepingrnup? Field Jefferson’s family, the one used in the article, is atrnleast equally inbred. Granted that the Y chromosome is carriedrnonly by the male line, we still do not have any idea when thern”Field Jefferson” Y chromosome entered either family, but werndo have plenty of male involvement from each of the three familiesrnwith the other two families and with the Hemings family.rnAs late as 1825, the family of Francis Eppes was managingrnPoplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s residence in Bedford County,rnwhen the Hemings family was there for rebuilding after arnfire, possibly adding to the genetic stew.rnAny little old lady living in genteel poverty in Charlottesville,rnsurrounded by her stacks of genealogical charts, can make arndog’s breakfast of an agenda-driven genetic study. The Naturernarticle is not even genetics: It is necromancy.rnThe science of genetics cannot be used for historical researchrnwithout a top-notch historian and the most complete genealogiesrnpossible. The courtroom equivalent of genealogies isrnthe “chain of custody” of evidence; any weak link in the chainrnof custody will utterly destioy the finest forensic “proof”rnMaybe I am being too harsh on Joe Ellis’s geneticists. Afterrntheir “findings” were disputed by other geneticists. Dr. EugenernFoster, lead author of the Nature article, told the WashingtonrnTimes that the media “went too far” with their interpretation.rnHe is now distancing himself from Ellis’s article in the samernmagazine, and even from his own article’s title.rnBut the historical damage is done. The attention-span of thernmedia and the public has been exceeded. Jefferson’s legacyrnwill always be overshadowed by this new sexual myth, inventedrnto make his modern namesake look less morally corrupt.rnEllis insists that he was only out to show that past presidents,rnlike the current one, were “flesh-and-blood humans.” I considerrnmyself a flesh-and-blood human, but I sincerely hope Joe Ellisrnnever sets out to prove me one.
January 1975April 21, 2022By The Archive