Tag Archives: Sally Hemings

3.285 – The Two Marthas



Year(s) Discussed: 1748-1836

Studies of Thomas Jefferson’s life often discuss the impact of the two Marthas – his wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, and his daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph – on him, but few studies examine matters with the focus on the lives of the two women. While our knowledge of Martha Jefferson is limited, in this episode, we sift through the fragments of what we know about her before shifting to her daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph. In addition to the narrative, part of the episode features an interview with a special guest, Dr. Cynthia A. Kierner, whose biography of Martha is an invaluable resource for learning more about a person who was educated in Paris and mingled with presidents and political leaders but is far too often relegated to the background of history. Her life has much to tell us about the role of women and families in the early republic as well as in US presidential history. Sources used for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.

Featured Images: “Martha Jefferson Randolph” by Thomas Sully, courtesy of Wikipedia, and “Silhouette of Martha Jefferson,” courtesy of Wikipedia

Transition Intro and Outro Music: Samples from “Bread,” prod. by LuKremBo


3.26 – Present but Absent: The Hemings Family of Monticello



Year(s) Discussed: 1735-1873

Throughout Jefferson’s life and career, he was surrounded and served by various enslaved individuals of three generations of the same family. In this episode, we examine the lives of the Hemings family as some worked to attain their freedom, other Hemingses disappeared from the historical record without a trace, and one became the most famous enslaved individual in the United States for bearing the third President’s children. Sources used for this episode can be found at https://presidencies.blubrry.com.

Featured Image: “View of the West Front of Monticello and Garden” by Jane Braddock [c. 1825], courtesy of Wikipedia

Intro and Outro Music: Selections from “Jefferson and Liberty” as performed by The Itinerant Band


3.18 – The Boys Are Back in Town



Year(s) Discussed: 1801-1803

Though the Louisiana Purchase Treaty had been concluded, President Jefferson understood that didn’t mean it was a done deal, and he and his administration got to work in the latter half of 1803 on getting the treaty ratified by the Senate and in pushing through legislation to carry through the purchase. However, they also had to contend with increased criticism in the press and with a gnawing concern in many minds, including that of the President, that there was nothing in the Constitution that said the United States could in fact acquire new territory. Sources used for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.

Featured Image: “William Plumer, head-and-shoulders portrait, right profile” by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin [c. 1806], courtesy of Wikipedia

Intro and Outro Music: Selections from “Jefferson and Liberty” as performed by The Itinerant Band


3.02 – Jefferson Pre-Presidency Part Two



Year(s) Discussed: 1774-1801

Between the publication of “Summary View of the Rights of British America” and his assuming the presidency, Jefferson made a name for himself by drafting the Declaration of Independence, struggled to see his home state of Virginia through the Revolution as governor, experienced a devastating personal loss, and served the new nation at home and abroad. Though his rise in national prominence as the leader of the opposition would ultimately lead to him becoming the third President, not only his public record but also various facets of Jefferson’s personal life would pose challenges for the new administration before it even began. Sources used for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.

Featured Images: “Thomas Jefferson” by Mather Brown [c. 1786], courtesy of Wikipedia, and “Thomas Jefferson” by Rembrandt Peale [c. 1800], courtesy of Wikipedia


1.12 – Slavery in America



The First Slave Auction at New Amsterdam in 1655 by Howard Pyle, courtesy of Wikipedia

Content Note: Though not going into graphic detail, I did want to let everyone know upfront that this episode, in discussing slavery, does touch upon the violence associated with slavery including that perpetrated against female enslaved people.

Year(s) Discussed: 1490s-1792

European settlers in the Western Hemisphere began practicing slavery in the lands that they found on the other side of the Atlantic in the late 15th century. In this episode, we examine the institution of slavery in what would become the United States as it developed up to the end of Washington’s first term in office. From its beginnings to its codification, we also look at some of the living conditions of enslaved peoples and early efforts to end the practice of slavery. The episode finishes off with bringing the focus back to Washington and how he approached slavery as he participated in the Constitutional Convention and then took office as president. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.