Scientific Correspondence | Published:

Jefferson fathered slave's last child

Naturevolume 396pages2728 (1998) | Download Citation



There is a long-standing historical controversy over the question of US President Thomas Jefferson's paternity of the children of Sally Hemings, one of his slaves1,4. To throw some scientific light on the dispute, we have compared Y-chromosomal DNA haplotypes from male-line descendants of Field Jefferson, a paternal uncle of Thomas Jefferson, with those of male-line descendants of Thomas Woodson, Sally Hemings' putative first son, and of Eston Hemings Jefferson, her last son. The molecular findings fail to support the belief that Thomas Jefferson was Thomas Woodson's father, but provide evidence that he was the biological father of Eston Hemings Jefferson.

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  1. 6 Gildersleeve Wood, Charlottesville, 22903, Virginia, USA

    • Eugene A. Foster
  2. Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, Adrian Building, University Road, LE1 7RH, Leicester, UK

    • M. A. Jobling
    •  & P. G. Taylor
  3. Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, OX1 3TG, Oxford, UK

    • P. Donnelly
  4. MGC Department of Human Genetics, Leiden University, PO Box 9503, 2300, RA Leiden, The Netherlands

    • P. de Knijff
    •  & Rene Mieremet
  5. Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, OX1 3QU, Oxford, UK

    • T. Zerjal
    •  & C. Tyler-Smith


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