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The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Escrito por Annette Gordon-Reed

Narrado por Karen White


The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Escrito por Annette Gordon-Reed

Narrado por Karen White

notas:
4/5 (37 notas)
Duração:
30 horas
Editora:
Lançados:
3 de nov. de 2008
ISBN:
9781400179756
Formato:
Audiolivro

Descrição

This epic work tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family's dispersal after Jefferson's death in 1826. It brings to life not only Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson but also their children and Hemings's siblings, who shared a father with Jefferson's wife, Martha. The Hemingses of Monticello sets the family's compelling saga against the backdrop of Revolutionary America, Paris on the eve of its own revolution, 1790s Philadelphia, and plantation life at Monticello. Much anticipated, this book promises to be the most important history of an American slave family ever written.
Editora:
Lançados:
3 de nov. de 2008
ISBN:
9781400179756
Formato:
Audiolivro

Sobre o autor

Annette Gordon-Reed is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award. She holds three appointments at Harvard University: professor of law at Harvard Law School, professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. A MacArthur Fellow and a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, she is also the author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy; the coauthor with Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., of Vernon Can Read!; and the editor of Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History. She lives in New York City.


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  • This is the best overview of the founding of slavery in America, seen through the history of the Hemings family, who were owned by Thomas Jefferson. "The Hemingses of Monticello" shines a bright light on a little-known history, and its publication continued to break down barriers, as author Annette Gordon-Reed became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in History.

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Avaliações do leitor

  • (4/5)
    A fascinating book about the inconsistencies of Thomas Jefferson's views on slavery, as well as his relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings, after his wife died. The book is well written, but, as others have noted, it is extremely repetitive. The author takes each event in the life of Sally or one of her brothers and dissects it. She uses other sources extensively, but also tries to get the reader to imagine what it would be like to be in that person's place and make a particular decision. For example, Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings and one of her brothers spent a couple years in Paris. They could have been free if they had stayed when Jefferson left, but they came back with him. Why? In Sally's case it was because the future children she would have with Jefferson would be freed when they became adults. Is that sufficient reason? Why didn't she free herself? It gets complicated. She is a woman, so if her brother didn't stay with her in Paris, she would be alone and in danger. It was just before the French Revolution, so there was a lot of unrest everywhere. The author goes through each life change in great detail. So, it is a loooong book. There are discussions of Jefferson's changing ideas on slavery, how he treated black slaves versus those who had a white ancestor, his plantation slaves versus his house slaves etc. There are discussions of his finances and how it affected slaves, many of whom lost family members when he had to sell his "human property" to pay the bills. I had to take breaks, but I am very glad I read it!
  • (3/5)
    The history and scholarship of this was very well done. I appreciated the conjecture into the possible emotions of these people and the historical justifications given. My only hang up was wishing the epilogue had been longer. I'm now anxious to seek out information about 20th century connections and how the truths of this tale were uncovered and brought to light.
  • (5/5)
    Such an important and yet strange Pulitzer prize winning book, as the voice of the main protagonist, Sally Hemmings, is absent. Very little has been told about her, but it seems that the author has included everything ever printed or said. The reader misses her terribly.However, this is a most rewarding challenge of a history book. It's very long. There are many duplicate names and generations. But the writing is so beautiful, with both separation from and involvement with, due to the lack of information and the passing of time. It is a ground-breaking masterpiece.What I learned and/or appreciated:- "the lowliest indentured servant was encouraged to identify with their white masters while distancing themselves from the blacks with whom they worked" - not really news to anyone, but what a way to express it!- "Americans have lived with the universe...where the humanity, family integrity, and honor of slave owners counted for more than...those of slaves."- " In England you "were" what your father "was". In the rules of slavery, Virginians adopted the Roman rule partus sequitur ventrem, which says you are what your MOTHER was." So as to make children of enslaved women the property of their father-masters.-"Mulattoes" comes from the Spanish word for "mule" - meaning the offspring of a horse and a donkey." Although, unlike mules, who are sterile, the so named mulattoes could reproduce, to the benefit of the slave owners.- "Slave traders were generally looked down on in Virginian society" - pretty ironic, huh?- "Planter indebtedness to British merchants grew to such enormous heights that some scholars suggest that it was the chief catalyst for the Virginia colony breaking away from the British Empire." - hmmm - so much for liberty or death.- "As late as the 1950s, some newspapers in southern states refused to apply the honorific "Mrs" to legally married black women." - so when racists tell people to "just get over" slavery, cite this one!- "Robert and James Hemmings were the sons of the man who gave Jefferson his fortune, and the half brothers to his wife. In a world with any degree of morality, these young men...would have had a share of that fortune." - so much for being born on second base with a silver spoon.All in all, Jefferson is given his full due, both as a brilliant thinker and as a cruel enslaver. As more and more of these revealing narratives come out, the founding fathers look like villains rather than heroes, just as it should be. BLACK LIVES MATTER.-
  • (4/5)
    A well researched and fascinating book about the entangled families of Thomas Jefferson and Elizabrth Hemings.
  • (5/5)
    This book is extremely well researched and offers a glimpse into the lives of this unique family in American history who were slaves, but connected to their white owners by blood and in many cases close relationship. The author presents a convincing arguement in terms of the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, but reveals the extraordinary lives of many of Sally's relatives. This book is not just an answer to the question of who is the father of Sally Hemings' children.....it answers the question: who were the members of this slave family and how did they live in and survive this condition.
  • (4/5)
    A fascinating family saga of the enslaved men and women who served Thomas Jefferson at Monticello -- and were blood kin of his wife Martha Sayles Jefferson. Although I had heard of Sally Hemmings, the slave who was Jefferson's concubine for many years, the details of her and her family's lives give a glimpse into the world of slavery and to the character of one of our founding fathers. There are few written references to the Hemingses, so the author uses other sources and her rich imagination to fill in the blanks. (Although "imagination" doesn't really do justice to the resources she brings to her writing of the tale and making it come alive for readers.)I particularly liked the author's explanation of the myriad laws and customs that governed slaves and slavery, both in the U.S. and in France.
  • (3/5)
    The controversy surrounding the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemmings, had its beginnings while Jefferson was still alive, but has to the forefront of Jefferson scholarship in recent years with the development of DNA technology that could potentially support or disprove (or muddle!) the controversy. Annette Gordon-Reed's book, The Hemingses of Monticello, is her second on the subject - the first being Thomas Jefferson & Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (1997). Her first discussed the specific relationship between Jefferson and Hemings. The Hemingses of Monticello examines the vast interconnectedness between the two families leading up to Jefferson and Hemings and on a little further into the decendents, especially of Hemings. There are a LOT of names, places, and dates in this book. Gordon-Reed clearly did a great deal of research into the papers of Thomas Jefferson and those around him. She places a heavy emphasis on the need to recognize slaves as people with real feelings and reactions during this time period, which I found to be very interesting. I do think it is important to always remember that, but I also think that in her attempt she also dismisses the historical fact of the law and slavery as not necessarily accurate depictions of how life really was. In do this, she often seems to place the social values of today on characters living in a different time and social context. While slaves were human and had true human emotions, white society treated them as if they were less than human (often regardless of personal beliefs). White men felt that they could take advantage of slave women because slave women were not as human as they were (in their own eyes). This is what truly made slavery such an abomination. Gordon-Reed, though, tries desperately to prove, using the social logic of today, that Jefferson must have loved Hemings. When I was in college I wrote one of my major papers on this subject and use Gordon-Reed's first book as one of my sources. Because of that, I was very interested to see what more she had to say. While the stories of the two families and how they come in and out of each others' lives is very interesting, she can be repetitive and a bit tedious. Gordon-Reed makes many assumptions along the way based on deduction but not necessarily fact, which continually reminded me that, as unsatisfying as it is, we will probably never really know what happened between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
  • (5/5)
    There aren't many books that open a whole new world of understanding on well-known people and historical periods. "The Hemingses of Monticello" did that for me. It's an uttering fascinating account of Thomas Jefferson, his slave / mistress / lover Sally Hemings, and the time in which they lived. I understand the frustration of many reviewers with Gordon-Reed's speculations about the motivations of both Jefferson and Hemings, but to my mind she backs up her interpretations with compelling (if sometimes indirect), examples and data.I felt more anger and sympathy for Jefferson than before, as well as more admiration and mystification over Sally. Gordon-Reed's tremendous scholarship and research made the 18th century seem as familiar and explicable as the present day. As odd as it sounds, I missed Tom, Sally, and all the Hemingses when I finished the book.
  • (4/5)
    It's hard to argue with a Pulitzer Prize winning book, and I won't. I enjoyed this book and had long been interested in its subject. I learned a good bit about Jefferson, Monticello, the Colonial and Revolutionary periods and slavery during that time. But I didn't learn much about Sarah Hemings or the other Hemingses. Apparently, the primary sources simply aren't there. As a result, the book seems to be about one-third or more speculation. It makes you think, and makes you speculate, too, and the author is knowledgable and articulate and her viewpoint is interesting. But often, it's her "educated guess,", made from what she knows and what she thinks -- I don't think I've ever read a history/biography quite so speculative.
  • (3/5)
    Although I've enjoyed a great deal of the information provided, I've had a hard time finishing the Hemingses of Monticello. The fact that the story is so incredibly detailed really works both for it and against it. While I've really enjoyed the descriptions of the social climate in particular, I think that at the point I've made it to (a little over halfway), Gordon-Reed has gotten so far away from the overall narrative, I'm finding myself completely unmotivated to return to the story.On the other hand, her research into the Jefferson/Hemings family is excellent and full of rich detail. She's also written the story with remarkable even-handedness. Jefferson is a complicated character, and to either lionize him or villainize him would be unfair. Sadly, sometimes the information is a little general. Lots of, "She may have, like others at the time," done such and such a thing. Understandable, though.I'll keep plugging away at it and if I can actually finish it, I'll review my review! However, I think it is always worth mentioning when a book is difficult to finish.
  • (4/5)
    A fascinating look at three generations of the Hemings family, slaves owned by Thomas Jefferson, including a peek at the 30 year long relationship Jefferson had with Sally Hemings and the children that were born to them.I had a difficult time looking at a late 18th century mind set with my own 21st century sensibility. I can't help but judge Thomas Jefferson as an egocentic, controlling, and manipulative human being even though I know he was a man of his times, and more open-minded than most.The Hemingses of Monticello is well-written and extensively researched, but much longer than it needs to be. Gordon-Reed writes page after page arguing points that are self-evident to the modern reader, so there are places in the book that drag along quite a bit. But, overall a very good book and highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Exhaustive study of the Hemings, slaves of Monticello, President Jefferson's home.
  • (4/5)
    Fascinating reading thanks to an incredible amount of research. For the most part this book is interesting reading, so don't let the size intimidate you. Granted, at times Gordon-Reed is repetitive plus she tends to expend a good many pages to issues which detract from the main story. Overall, however, this is an exhaustive and interesting story not only of Sally Hemings and her relationship with Thomas Jefferson but of the Hemings family as a whole and as individuals. Gordon-Reed focuses on their lives within slavery and their struggles to free themselves and/or their children.The book is riveting in its description of life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Gordon -Reed not only focuses on the marginalization of African Americans but that of women not matter what their race. It's easy to see why the book was short-listed for a National Book Award.I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys American history and particularly to readers who loved "Boone," by Robert Morgan and any of David McCullough's books.
  • (3/5)
    I'm afraid that the author's own subjectivity and bias played a bigger role than Jefferson and Hemings in the book. The constant commentary that was primarily 21st century First World feminist perspectives dominated the impressive research and hard work that went into it.
  • (4/5)
    This is a unique look at the inner worlds of the people in and around Thomas Jefferson, and their intersection with Jefferson. The writing style is what earned this book 4 instead of 5 stars. It is repetitive, overly speculative, and spends inordinate amounts of time focusing on minute details of even minor events. However the contents are incredibly insightful on topic not generally explored by Americans at any great depth; the intimate lives of African slaves under chattel slavery. The author explores the thoughts, feelings, desires, and choices of members of the Hemmings family as people, and simply as objects of oppression. So, despite the sometimes irritating writing style, I fully reccomend this book for an unparalleled look into a world that passed away long ago, but whose themes strongly echo into our times today.
  • (3/5)

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

    What can I say? It took me 4 months to struggle through it. It did get better in the last quarter, but even then it was EXTREMELY repetitious. Gordon-Reed definitely did some ground-breaking scholarship in the research she did for this book. But it is SO repetitious. Yes, it listened to the audible.com version of the text. Perhaps the print version had charts and grafts to help the reader. Certainly it must have been indexed. Ah. Maybe that is it, she wanted the index to be incredibly long, so she repeated details to pad that. Really, the fact that Sally Hemings was a 16-yr. old enslaved adolescent when Jefferson first began their relationship at first was so WRONG. But after Gordon-Reed repeatedly said she was raped, the term lost all meaning. It is a book worth reading. My advice would be to check the print edition out of your local library. Then you can skim through what you have already read and go back and check out what you think you may have missed.

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  • (4/5)
    Thomas Jefferson really enjoyed owning slaves. The Hemmings family, who would have been in in laws if such a thing were lawfully possible, seemed to fill much of his requirement for personal contact, business management, sexual contact and child rearing. He had such an active mind and was always planning, and his in law slaves were reliable company for his discussions. He thought he treated them very well. He allowed many of the males to pursue their own interests and money making opportunities and to keep all the money they earned. Their only obligation to him was to be available for his use whenever he wanted them. Sally, after leaving Paris, was kept at Monticello, bore and raised his children and kept him personally comfortable. For that she, and her female relatives essentially had no noisome assigned tasks, in fact overseers were not allowed to assign them work. They were just to keep house the way any other woman would have been expected to do. Sounded fine to him. Of course, they weren't free, but he seemed to think that a minor detail. He did free his children informally - allowed them to run away and pass as white and even gave his daughter $50 (I think) to start her new life. After his death Sally and youngest child were kind of informally freed. Many of his in laws got to stay in their family groups, but he was terrible with money, died in debt, and some were sold away from their families to get needed cash. Thomas Jefferson - "All Men Are Created Equal" - but it was just so nice to be able to own some.
  • (5/5)
    One of the fascinations and possibilities of this book detailing the long and complicated family relationships between two parts of a biological family, is the fact that it can be researched due to Jefferson's fame. The papers exist and can be used by scholars. How many other family have similar history and no archive of documents.
  • (3/5)
    Well, I don’t like Jefferson any better after this book, a painstaking reconstruction of what’s known about the Hemings family at Monticello, starting with Sally Hemings’ mother and continuing through several generations of Hemingses. The book could have been profitably shortened—because so little documentary evidence remains (some having been deliberately destroyed by Jefferson’s family, and some apparently having been carefully not created in the first place), a lot of times Gordon-Reed ends up speculating about, e.g., what a young woman far from home and far from older family members might have felt, courted by a man who enjoyed charming people and having his life be conflict-free. Gordon-Reed says that Sally and her brother, who could have stayed in France as free blacks, returned with Jefferson after a promise from Jefferson that he’d free Sally’s children and her brother, but she doesn’t make clear whether this promise is known from a family tradition or just inferred from subsequent events. I was also really interested in the fact that several of Sally’s children left Monticello and “passed” by adopting a white identity (which actually would have been legally theirs before Virginia’s anti-black laws became even more vicious and adopted the one-drop rule) that required them to break off contact with the remaining Hemingses—the focus on Monticello makes it hard to ask “what happened then?”
  • (3/5)
    I found this book to alternate between immensely interesting and boring as all get out. I learned an awful lot about this general subject matter and the specific individuals involved in the real life drama that was Thomas Jefferson and his "family." Slavery in America was just horrendous, in spite of all that has been put forth over the years that attempts to present slavery in a positive light.

    The manner in which people looked at sexual relationships between slave owners and enslaved women is just so appalling to me. But aside from the morality of the backdrop of the book, I found these stories fascinating and exceedingly sad all at once.

    The text of this work is a dense, difficult read at times. The author examines the subject matter in extreme depth, discussing so many aspects of what was going on in the lives of the Monticello slaves for which there are some records -- what they must have been thinking and feeling as events unfolded, and how these thoughts and feelings were seldom if ever recognized or even considered by previous researchers and authors, all in the context of their close kinship with the people who owned them (Sally Hemmings, Jefferson's "concubine" and mother of several of his children was actually his deceased wife's half sister).
  • (3/5)
    This is a fascinating book about the Hemings family of slaves of Thomas Jefferson. The fact that Jefferson, author of the preamble to the American Declaration of Independence (We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness) could be a slave owner, is just one element in this story. Although some historians deny it, Jefferson quite clearly fathered 7 children by Sally Hemings, in a long term relationship that commenced after he became a widower. Sally (you couldn't make this stuff up!) was the half sister of Jefferson's wife. The book tells the story of the extended Hemings family, and their relationship to Jefferson.The other fascinating part of the book is the introduction it provides to the academic study of slavery in America. This is clearly a difficult subject, and especially so for the descendants of slaves. The result is that we learn as much about the author as we do about the subjects of the history. In this book, all actions by blacks are valiant, all actions by whites are spurious and self interested - for example, any generous actions by Jefferson are inevitably qualified as a "benevolent" action - no praise to be permitted. But I found it distracting to see the analysis of the actions of individuals 200 years ago framed in the terms of current views of slavery. While slavery was always abhorrent, it would have been difficult in that era for individuals, black or white, to have taken the informed and objective stance that seems so obvious to us today. You have to consider the actions of people with reference to the mores of their time. But, while Gordon-Reed saves all the pejorative slights and references for the slave owners, it is clear that she is concerned that she isn't rigorous enough, and there is an odd 4-chapter diversion in the middle of the book where she, effectively, sets out to defend herself against challenges she expects. At this stage of the reading of the book, I had been finding Gordon-Reed lacking balance in her presentation, but from her "defence" chapters, it seems that other researchers must be so extreme as to make Gordon-Reed seem a paragon of neutrality. As an example, there is apparently a view, firmly held by some, that ALL mixed race children of slaves were the result of rape. This conclusion is based on the facts that rape of a female slave was not a crime, and that all female slaves would want to maintain solidarity with their fellow slaves and would never voluntarily have sex with a white person. What tosh.In the end this is a book that is well worth reading. It paints a detailed picture of a life that is hard for most of us alive today to imagine, let alone comprehend. While I have some quibbles (as mentioned above) I am glad to have been challenged by the book, and I am better informed for having read it.Read August 2013
  • (3/5)

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

    This won a Pulitzer???

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

  • (5/5)

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

    Although stories about Thomas Jefferson's children by his slave, Sally Hemings, have been in circulation for over 200 years, new attention has been given to Sally and her children in the last decade following the publication of the results of a DNA analysis of descendants of Jefferson's father's brother, Jefferson's Carr nephews, and Sally Hemings' son, Eston. Annette Gordon-Reed reconstructs the lives, not just of Sally and her children, but also of Sally's mother, Sally's siblings and half-siblings, and other slave families who were integral to life at Monticello.Sally's mother, Elizabeth Hemings, was the daughter of an apparently full-blooded African slave and an English sea captain named Hemings. Captain Hemings tried to buy his daughter, but her owner refused to sell her to her father. Elizabeth was part of the marriage settlement of Martha Eppes and John Wayles, parents of Martha Wayles Jefferson. After Wayles was widowed for the third time, he did not remarry, but had several children by Elizabeth Hemings. The youngest, Sally, was born the same year that Wayles died. When John Wayles' estate was divided, Elizabeth and her children were included in Martha Wayles Jefferson's portion of the estate, the beginning of their decades long association with Thomas Jefferson and Monticello.Gordon-Reed presents evidence that Jefferson treated Elizabeth Hemings and her children and grandchildren differently than he treated his slaves who were not related to her. A succession of Hemings males served as Jefferson's personal attendants. The Hemings women had fewer duties than other slave women, and were spared the rigors of field work. The few slaves that Jefferson freed during his life or upon his death were all descended from Elizabeth Hemings.Inevitably, Gordon-Reed's book is as much about Thomas Jefferson as about the Hemings family. The inescapable reality of slavery is that much of what is known about Elizabeth Hemings and her children comes from Jefferson's records and correspondence. The Jefferson that the Hemings knew was a man who desired to be liked by those around him and who hated confrontation and interpersonal conflict. He seems to have kept promises he made. No matter how agreeably Jefferson tried to conduct himself, he was still the master and controlled the lives and destinies of the slaves.The main flaw in the book is perhaps its repetitiveness. Since there are many people who are not convinced that Thomas Jefferson was the father of Sally Hemings' children, or who just refuse to believe it, maybe Gordon-Reed thought the repetition was necessary. However, the readability of the author's prose makes it a quick read for a book of its size, so potential readers shouldn't be discouraged by its length.

    1 pessoa achou isso útil

  • (3/5)
    Although I've enjoyed a great deal of the information provided, I've had a hard time finishing the Hemingses of Monticello. The fact that the story is so incredibly detailed really works both for it and against it. While I've really enjoyed the descriptions of the social climate in particular, I think that at the point I've made it to (a little over halfway), Gordon-Reed has gotten so far away from the overall narrative, I'm finding myself completely unmotivated to return to the story.On the other hand, her research into the Jefferson/Hemings family is excellent and full of rich detail. She's also written the story with remarkable even-handedness. Jefferson is a complicated character, and to either lionize him or villainize him would be unfair. Sadly, sometimes the information is a little general. Lots of, "She may have, like others at the time," done such and such a thing. Understandable, though.I'll keep plugging away at it and if I can actually finish it, I'll review my review! However, I think it is always worth mentioning when a book is difficult to finish.