Critics Question D-N-A Link Between Jefferson and Slave's Descendants

(Washington-AP) January 6, 1999 -- The controversy over President Thomas Jefferson's sex life is almost as old as the country-- but still isn't settled.

Critics are launching new attacks on a genetic study suggesting that Jefferson fathered his slave's child.

In 1802, a year after becoming president, Jefferson was accused publicly of fathering several children by slave Sally Hemings. To help settle the matter, scientists tracked down descendants of both families for D-N-A testing. In a study published in the journal Nature, they reported a match in chromosomes that pass mostly unchanged from father to son.
A page from Thomas Jefferson's Farm Book, which was hand written by Thomas Jefferson himself. Sally is listed as having three children. Harriet 1, Madison 5 and Eston 8. Harriet Hemings was born in 1801. Madison Hemings was born in 1805. Eston Hemings was born in 1808. Sally's eldest son was Beverley, was born in 1798 and because of his age had a separate listing in the Farm Book. An earlier child also named Harriet had died in infancy. Note that according to Thomas Jefferson's Farm Book, Sally never had a son by the name of Tom.

But amateur historian Herbert Barger and other critics say the evidence is far from conclusive. They note that Thomas Jefferson's brother, cousin and nephews carried the same chromosome.

Barger's wife is a Jefferson descendant.

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