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Historian Annette Gordon-Reed: Sally Hemings of Monticello

Host Marcia Franklin sits down with historian and law professor Annette Gordon-Reed about her book, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. The book, which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, explores the complex bonds between President Thomas Jefferson and one of his slave families, the Hemingses.

Using primary source documents, as well as second-hand accounts, Gordon-Reed tries to piece together the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings, with whom most historians now believe he had as many as seven children. Hemings, a slave at Monticello, was also the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife, Martha, who died when Jefferson was 39.

A professor at Rutgers University and the New York College of Law at the time of the interview, Gordon-Reed is currently the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School and Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard.

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Originally Aired: 12/03/2009

The interview is part of Dialogue’s series, “Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference,” and was taped at the 2009 conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together some of the world’s most well-known and illuminating authors to discuss literature and life.

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