Professor Susan Dunn has a review of two recent books about Thomas Jefferson in the Washington Post. In passing, she writes:

Who was Thomas Jefferson when he died? A hypocrite? He had famously written that slavery was “unremitting despotism,” and yet he owned, bred and sold slaves. An immoral impostor? He had warned against “amalgamation” of the races, but he had children with his slave mistress, Sally Hemings.

Here at EphBlog, we are, obviously, huge fans of the amalgamation of the races.

But it is simply embarassing unsettling for a scholar of Dunn’s stature to assert as fact — that Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemmings — something that is actively disputed.

Dunn may believe that Jefferson was the father of Eston Hemmings; she may and should argue that position in her articles and books. Yet it is unscholarly for her to assert it as an uncontested fact to the readers of the Washington Post or to her students at Williams. All deserve better.

UPDATE: Thanks to comments below (especially from David R), I have revised my opinion as to the import of this issue. It is not “embarassing” but merely “unsettling”. Moreover, I have no idea what Dunn teaches in her classes, so I should refrain from such speculation.

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