The recent announcement by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation of the restoration of Sally Hemings’ “room”… was based on the opinions of several historians and archaeology supposedly completed through a $35 million grant. The Foundation promises that the newly renovated room will show “Visitors will come up here and understand that there was no place on this mountaintop that slavery wasn’t” — A recent visit to Monticello revealed a gutted room and some renovation, but little evidence of actual archaeology. ** see image below
The historical record provides no evidence of this room being used by any person, let alone, Sally Hemings…. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation continues to rely on speculation and a disingenuous brand of conjecture disguised as authoritative narrative. If major archaeological discoveries were made, why weren’t they included in the media release? The alleged affair between Jefferson and Hemings is good for business; it sells tickets, books, and research proposals to impressionable philanthropists and unwitting spectators. It diminishes the impact of the Founder who gave this country its creed.
30 miles to the Northeast at James Madison’s Montpelier… archaeologists are meticulously plotting search grids and unearthing artifacts. Since 1999, archaeology has been a centerpiece of understanding Madison’s life at Montpelier. The excavations are providing insight into the original layout and functionality of the plantation, as well as the daily existence of Madison’s slaves. The historians and archaeologists are working with the historical and archaeological records to provide visitors a more complete picture of daily life at Montpelier. Research done at Madison’s home is academically and professionally sound. There is no predetermined narrative being propagated for the sake of political correctness or financial gain.