The archaeologists had the sheer motive of restoring the residence of one of the founding fathers of the nation, Thomas Jefferson. But, what they discovered while proceeding through their task of restoring the Monticello property located in Virginia left them jumping out of their skins! The discovery has forced the historians to rewrite some of the pages of the history books describing the third president of the nation, Mr. Thomas Jefferson. It has also become the topic of widespread debate all over the world about the life of some of the most esteemed personalities to lead the nation in the past. I can bet that this gripping episode will give you goosebumps and uncover some of the hidden mysteries associated with the history of the United States. Read on to find out!!
A President’s Plantation
The Monticello plantation located in Charlottesville, Virginia is a place that each and every citizen of the United States is acquainted with. The obvious reason being that it is the same structure that one comes sees almost every day at the back of the U.S. nickel. The significance of this place heightens from the fact that it used to be the residence of the third President of the United States, Mr. Thomas Jefferson before he shifted to the White House in the year 1801. The construction of this property containing the word ‘Monticello'(which mean “Little Mountain” in Italian) was started in the year 1768 by Jefferson himself. The reason this place has caught the attention of media and historians worldwide is a recent discovery made here unraveling a sinister detail which was locked in the gates of this house for more than 100 years.
The Controversy Surrounding Monticello
When the construction of Monticello started, Thomas Jefferson was 26-years-old. He had inherited the extensive 5,000-acre land from his father on which he was now planning to shape his dream home. Construction of a house was something new that the plantation was witnessing as before this it was used only for cultivating wheat and tobacco. Despite, the construction being when he started building Monticello on land that he inherited from his father. The massive 5,000-acre plantation was primarily used to cultivate tobacco and wheat. But like many plantations of the time, Monticello has a controversial legacy linked to one of the dark parts of American history. While Jefferson used free workers along with indentured servants and enslaved laborers to construct the plantation house, he subsequently had hundreds of slaves working as home servants and living in Monticello. Although that difficult fact has been acknowledged, an astonishing discovery in 2017 shed light on a previously unresolved matter.
A Complicated Legacy
It would be enough stating the fact that Thomas Jefferson is one of the nation’s ingenious Founding Fathers in order to give you an idea about his significance in American history. The credit for penning the “immortal declaration” that “All men are created equal, ” completely goes to this great man. Well, the most ironical, and dark fact associated with the life of this principal author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence is that throughout his lifetime he owned 607 slaves. Eventually, his long-lived legacy has come into question after a mind-boggling discovery during an archaeological excavation conducted at the Monticello plantation. It is this discovery and some other sinister aspects that we are going to unravel in this article.
An Enigmatic Figure
The most notable among all the slaves that worked on Thomas Jefferson’s plantation was a woman named Sally Hemings. Her character is extremely shrouded in mystery and her close association with the life of Jefferson only adds to the inquisitiveness of the historians for more than a century now. Though, it is a period of around 200 years after her death that the path-breaking discovery has forced the historians to rethink on the theories they have proposed on the exact identity of this woman and the curious events that occurred while she was staying at Monticello.
Who Was Sally Hemings?
Sally Heming’s son named Madison described his mother stating that she was, the half-sister of Martha whose picture you are seeing right now. Actually, Martha was the wife of Thomas Jefferson, yes, don’t be shocked, this is the truth which has made the revelation all the more twisted. Born in the year 1773, Sally was the daughter of a man named John Wayles who was a planter and slave trader. John was the father of Martha Jefferson too. Betty Hemings was the mother of Sally and was a woman born into slavery and of biracial patrimony. The reason for which Sally along with her siblings and mother was a slave belonging to Martha and had to work on Jefferson’s property was a law at that time which stated that the children born to enslaved mothers will also be considered as slaves.
Before The Recognition
You will be surprised to know that the age gap between Sally and her half-sister Martha Jefferson was of 25 years, Sally being the younger one between the two. Sally was the youngest of her six siblings with all of them spending their childhood at Jefferson’s plantation at Monticello. From a very early age, they were given the required training to become artisans and domestic servants. They were not made to work in the fields as children occupied the top position of the slave hierarchy. At that time Sally was just like any other slave working on the plantation, but, who knew that she would become a topic of national interest and debate all over the world years after her death.