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.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Peterson, M. D. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind 181-187 (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1960).
Malone, D. Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805 Appendix II, 494-498 (Little Brown, Boston, MA, 1970).
Brodie, F. M. Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (Norton, New York, 1974).
Ellis, J. J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson (Knopf, New York, 1997).
Callender, J. T. Richmond Recorder 1 September 1802. [Cited in: Gordon-Reed, A. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (Univ. Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1997)].
Woodson, M. S. The Woodson Source Book 2nd edn (Washington, 1984).
Hammer, M. F. Mol. Biol. Evol. 11, 749–761 (1994).
Whitfield, L. S., Sulston, J. E. & Goodfellow, P. N. Nature 378, 379–380 (1995).
Seielstad, M. T.et al. Hum. Mol. Genet. 3, 2159–2161 (1994).
Zerjal, T.et al. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 60, 1174–1183 (1997).
Mathias, N., Bayes, M. & Tyler-Smith, C. Hum. Mol. Genet. 3, 115–123 (1994).
Kwok, C.et al. J. Med. Genet. 33, 465–468 (1996).
Kayser, M.et al. Int. J. Legal Med. 110, 125–133 (1997).
Jobling, M. A., Bouzekri, N. & Taylor, P. G. Hum. Mol. Genet. 7, 643–653 (1998).
About this article
Cite this article
Foster, E., Jobling, M., Taylor, P. et al. Jefferson fathered slave's last child. Nature 396, 27–28 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1038/23835
Molecular genealogy of Tusi Lu’s family reveals their paternal relationship with Jochi, Genghis Khan’s eldest son
Journal of Human Genetics (2019)
Internal validation study of a newly developed 24-plex Y-STRs genotyping system for forensic application
International Journal of Legal Medicine (2019)
Nature Reviews Genetics (2017)
Scientific Reports (2017)
The Y chromosome as the most popular marker in genetic genealogy benefits interdisciplinary research
Human Genetics (2017)