Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings (Jeffersonian America)

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9780813927787: Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings (Jeffersonian America)

The debate over the affair between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings rarely rises above the question of "Did they or didn’t they?" But lost in the argument over the existence of such a relationship are equally urgent questions about a history that is more complex, both sexually and culturally, than most of us realize. Mongrel Nation seeks to uncover this complexity, as well as the reasons it is so often obscured.

Clarence Walker contends that the relationship between Jefferson and Hemings must be seen not in isolation but in the broader context of interracial affairs within the plantation complex. Viewed from this perspective, the relationship was not unusual or aberrant but was fairly typical. For many, this is a disturbing realization, because it forces us to abandon the idea of American exceptionalism and re-examine slavery in America as part of a long, global history of slaveholders frequently crossing the color line.

More than many other societies--and despite our obvious mixed-race population--our nation has displayed particular reluctance to acknowledge this dynamic. In a country where, as early as 1662, interracial sex was already punishable by law, an understanding of the Hemings-Jefferson relationship has consistently met with resistance. From Jefferson’s time to our own, the general public denied--or remained oblivious to--the possibility of the affair. Historians, too, dismissed the idea, even when confronted with compelling arguments by fellow scholars. It took the DNA findings of 1998 to persuade many (although, to this day, doubters remain).

The refusal to admit the likelihood of this union between master and slave stems, of course, from Jefferson’s symbolic significance as a Founding Father. The president’s apologists, both before and after the DNA findings, have constructed an iconic Jefferson that tells us more about their own beliefs--and the often alarming demands of those beliefs--than it does about the interaction between slave owners and slaves. Much more than a search for the facts about two individuals, the debate over Jefferson and Hemings is emblematic of tensions in our society between competing conceptions of race and of our nation.

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About the Author:

Clarence E. Walker is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis, and the author of We Can't Go Home Again: An Argument about Afrocentrism.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* Thomas Jefferson’s heroic stature as an Enlightenment archetype, author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third president has always made his positions on race particularly troubling in a nation that wants to think of itself as just and equitable and also racially pure. Historian Walker uses the contradictions between Jefferson’s writings on race and his 38-year relationship with his slave Sally Hemings as a prism through which to view the complexities of American race relations. In the first part of this slim volume, Walker argues that Jefferson and Hemings are rightly the “founding parents” of the nation, signifying the racial mixture of America from its early years. In the second part, Walker examines the heated debate pre- and post-DNA testing in 1998 that confirmed Jefferson DNA in Hemings’ offspring. So powerful has been the notion of a pure white origin for the nation and its founders that even scholars have gone to great lengths to deny that Jefferson, like so many other powerful white men, was “in the closet” in terms of interracial sexual relations, forced or consensual. Walker maintains that unless the nation can fully recognize the Jefferson-Hemings relationship, it can never have a true sense of its identity. --Vanessa Bush

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Descrizione libro University of Virginia Press, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The debate over the affair between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings rarely rises above the question of Did they or didn t they? But lost in the argument over the existence of such a relationship are equally urgent questions about a history that is more complex, both sexually and culturally, than most of us realize. Mongrel Nation seeks to uncover this complexity, as well as the reasons it is so often obscured. Codice libro della libreria AAC9780813927787

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Descrizione libro University of Virginia Press, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The debate over the affair between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings rarely rises above the question of Did they or didn t they? But lost in the argument over the existence of such a relationship are equally urgent questions about a history that is more complex, both sexually and culturally, than most of us realize. Mongrel Nation seeks to uncover this complexity, as well as the reasons it is so often obscured. Codice libro della libreria AAC9780813927787

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Descrizione libro University of Virginia Press. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Paperback. 144 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.4in. x 0.5in.The debate over the affair between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings rarely rises above the question of Did they or didnt they But lost in the argument over the existence of such a relationship are equally urgent questions about a history that is more complex, both sexually and culturally, than most of us realize. Mongrel Nation seeks to uncover this complexity, as well as the reasons it is so often obscured. Clarence Walker contends that the relationship between Jefferson and Hemings must be seen not in isolation but in the broader context of interracial affairs within the plantation complex. Viewed from this perspective, the relationship was not unusual or aberrant but was fairly typical. For many, this is a disturbing realization, because it forces us to abandon the idea of American exceptionalism and re-examine slavery in America as part of a long, global history of slaveholders frequently crossing the color line. More than many other societies--and despite our obvious mixed-race population--our nation has displayed particular reluctance to acknowledge this dynamic. In a country where, as early as 1662, interracial sex was already punishable by law, an understanding of the Hemings-Jefferson relationship has consistently met with resistance. From Jeffersons time to our own, the general public denied--or remained oblivious to--the possibility of the affair. Historians, too, dismissed the idea, even when confronted with compelling arguments by fellow scholars. It took the DNA findings of 1998 to persuade many (although, to this day, doubters remain). The refusal to admit the likelihood of this union between master and slave stems, of course, from Jeffersons symbolic significance as a Founding Father. The presidents apologists, both before and after the DNA findings, have constructed an iconic Jefferson that tells us more about their own beliefs--and the often alarming demands of those beliefs--than it does about the interaction between slave owners and slaves. Much more than a search for the facts about two individuals, the debate over Jefferson and Hemings is emblematic of tensions in our society between competing conceptions of race and of our nation. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Codice libro della libreria 9780813927787

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