The Info List - John Wayles Jefferson

John Wayles Jefferson, born John Wayles Hemings (May 8, 1835 – July 12, 1892), was an American businessman, and during the American Civil War, a soldier in the Union Army
Union Army
who was promoted to the rank of colonel. Jefferson owned a hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, in the 1850s. After the Civil War, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he achieved wealth as a cotton broker. Jefferson is believed to be a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States; his paternal grandmother was Sarah (Sally) Hemings, the President's mixed-race slave and half-sister to his late wife. Jefferson was the eldest son of Eston Hemings
Eston Hemings
(1808–56), a former slave freed in Jefferson's will, who was seven-eighths European in ancestry and "white" under Virginia law, and Julia Ann (née Isaacs) Hemings (1814–1889), a free woman of color who was of three-quarters European descent. The Hemings moved from Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
to Chillicothe, Ohio
Chillicothe, Ohio
in 1836. They moved to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1852, taking the surname Jefferson, and entered the white community, where they were well accepted.


1 Early life and family 2 Career

2.1 Military service 2.2 Post-war career

3 Ancestry controversy 4 References 5 External links

Early life and family[edit] Main article: Jefferson-Hemings controversy John's father, Eston Hemings, was born a slave at Monticello
in 1808, the youngest of Sally Hemings’ six mixed-race children. They are widely understood to have been the children of President Thomas Jefferson, Hemings' master. As they were seven-eighths European in ancestry, under Virginian law at the time they were legally white. But they were born into slavery under the slave law principle of partus sequitur ventrem, by which children of slave mothers took the status of the mother. Sally Hemings
Sally Hemings
was three-quarters white and a half-sister of Jefferson's late wife, Martha Wayles Skelton. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
informally and formally freed all of Sally's four surviving children. He let the first two "escape" when they came of age; they went North to Washington, DC and passed into white society, both marrying white spouses. Jefferson's will freed Madison and Eston Hemings shortly after the president's death in 1826; Eston was "given his time" so that he did not have to wait until the age of 21 for freedom. Madison, already 21, had been freed immediately. In 1830 Eston purchased property in Charlottesville, on which he and his brother Madison built a house. Their mother Sally lived with them until her death in 1835. In Charlottesville, Eston married Julia Ann Isaacs, a mixed-race daughter of a wealthy Jewish merchant, David Isaacs from Germany, and Ann (Nancy) West, a free woman of color, who built an independent bakery business in the town. Eston and Julia Ann's first son John Wayles Hemings was born in Charlottesville in 1835. His first and middle name were after his great-grandfather John Wayles. As a widower Wayles had fathered six children by his enslaved concubine Betty Hemings, of whom the youngest was Sally Hemings. Eston and Julia's second child, Anna Wayles Hemings (1836–1866), was also born in Charlottesville. After his mother Sally died, Eston and Julia Ann Hemings moved their family to Chillicothe in the free state of Ohio, where they settled for more than 15 years. His and Julia Ann's youngest child, William Beverley Hemings (1839–1908), was born there. The town had a thriving free black community and strong abolitionist activists, who together helped fugitive slaves along the Underground Railroad. Eston was well known as a musician and entertainer. The children were educated in the public schools. His brother Madison Hemings
Madison Hemings
and his family also moved there. In 1852, after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act
Fugitive Slave Act
increased the danger to members of the African-American community as slave catchers came to Ohio, as they sometimes kidnapped free blacks to sell them into slavery, the family moved North to Madison, Wisconsin, the state capital. There the entire family took the surname Jefferson to reflect Eston's and the children's ancestry. John was 17, Anna 16, and Beverly 13 at the time of the move. The family lived as part of the white community in Madison and for the rest of their lives. As adults, both Anna and Beverly Jefferson married white spouses; John never married. Anna died young in 1866 at the age of 30. Career[edit] Before the Civil War, John W. Jefferson operated the American House hotel in Madison, where he brought on his younger brother Beverly to help and learn the business. Military service[edit] At the age of 26, Jefferson entered the volunteer Union Army
Union Army
on August 26, 1861, at Madison, Wisconsin. He served in the 8th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War. On September 28, 1861 he was promoted to Major; to Lieutenant Colonel on April 23, 1863; and to Colonel
on June 16, 1864. He fought in significant battles of the war and was wounded at Vicksburg and during the Siege of Corinth. He was mustered out of service on October 11, 1864, at Madison, Wisconsin. His brother, William Beverly Jefferson, also served as a white soldier in the Union Army. According to service records, John Jefferson had red hair and gray eyes (as did Thomas Jefferson).[1] Photographs show his strong resemblance to Thomas Jefferson. In 1902, a former neighbor from Chillicothe recalled John Jefferson's concerns about his mixed ancestry in the social climate of the times:

...and I saw and talked with one of the sons, during the Civil War, who was then wearing the silver leaves of a lieutenant colonel, and in command of a fine regiment of white men from a north-western state. He begged me not to tell the fact that he had colored blood in his veins, which he said was not suspected by any of his command; and of course I did not.[2]

Post-war career[edit] Jefferson wrote as a newspaper correspondent during and after the war, publishing articles about his experiences. After the war, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he became a highly successful cotton broker, founding the Continental Cotton Company.

"He raised cotton in Arkansas and bred blooded trotting horses on his plantation near Memphis. Articles under his name in the Memphis Daily Avalanche cover such matters as improving streets, enlarging the city’s boundaries, and preventing cotton-warehouse fires."[3]

Jefferson never married. He died on June 12, 1892. He was interred in Madison, Wisconsin, in the Jefferson family plot at Forest Hill Cemetery. He left a sizeable estate. Ancestry controversy[edit] Main article: Jefferson-Hemings controversy Historians disputed as to whether Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
had children with his slave Sally Hemings. Fawn McKay Brodie and Annette Gordon-Reed presented new analyses that assessed the historiography, showing evidence that other historians had overlooked. Y-DNA
tests conducted in 1998 confirmed that a male-line descendant of John's brother Beverly had a male ancestor in common with male-line descendants of the Jefferson line. (As Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
had no acknowledged male descendants, another from his line had to be tested, but Y-DNA
was passed unchanged.)[4] This supported the Hemings family's tradition of descent from Thomas Jefferson. As the Carr DNA did not match, the Jefferson family tradition (stated by two grandchildren) that his Carr nephew(s) had fathered Sally Hemings' children was disproved. For most historians, this data, together with the weight of historical evidence, confirmed the Hemings family's claim of descent from Thomas Jefferson.[5] References[edit]

^ Justus, Judith, Down from the Mountain: The Oral History of the Hemings Family, Lesher Printers, Inc., 1999, p. 91. ^ "A Sprig of Jefferson was Eston Hemings", Scioto Gazette, 1902, republished at Jefferson's Blood, PBS Frontline. ^ Fawn M. Brodie, "Thomas Jefferson’s Unknown Grandchildren: A Study in Historical Silences", American Heritage, October 1976, Vol. 27, Issue 6, accessed 13 November 2013. ^ Foster, EA; Jobling, MA; Taylor, PG; Donnelly, P; De Knijff, P; Mieremet, R; Zerjal, T; Tyler-Smith, C; et al. (1998). "Jefferson fathered slave's last child" (PDF). Nature. 396 (6706): 27–28. doi:10.1038/23835. PMID 9817200.  ^ Dinitia Smith and Nicholas Wade, "DNA Test Finds Evidence Of Jefferson Child by Slave", New York Times, 1 November 1998, accessed 8 September 2011.

External links[edit]

Jefferson Family Papers, UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections "Thomas Jefferson's Madison Descendants?", Wisconsin
Historical Society Thomas Jefferson, PBS Frontline

v t e

Thomas Jefferson

3rd President of the United States
President of the United States
(1801–1809) 2nd U.S. Vice President (1797–1801) 1st U.S. Secretary of State (1790–1793) U.S. Minister to France (1785–1789) 2nd Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
(1779–1781) Delegate, Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress

Founding documents of the United States

A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774) Initial draft, Olive Branch Petition
Olive Branch Petition
(1775) Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (1775) 1776 Declaration of Independence

Committee of Five authored physical history "All men are created equal" "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" "Consent of the governed"

1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

freedom of religion

French Revolution

Co-author, Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen


Inaugural Address (1801 1805) Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves Louisiana Purchase Lewis and Clark Expedition

Corps of Discovery timeline Empire of Liberty

Red River Expedition Pike Expedition Cumberland Road Embargo Act of 1807

Chesapeake–Leopard affair Non-Intercourse Act of 1809

First Barbary War Native American policy Marbury v. Madison West Point Military Academy State of the Union Addresses (texts 1801 1802 1805) Cabinet Federal judicial appointments

Other noted accomplishments

Early life and career Founder, University of Virginia


Land Ordinance of 1784

Northwest Ordinance 1787

Anti-Administration party Democratic-Republican Party Jeffersonian democracy

First Party System republicanism

Plan for Establishing Uniformity in the Coinage, Weights, and Measure of the United States (1790) Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions A Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1801)

Jeffersonian architecture

Barboursville Farmington Monticello


Poplar Forest University of Virginia

The Rotunda The Lawn

Virginia State Capitol White House
White House

Other writings

Notes on the State of Virginia
Notes on the State of Virginia
(1785) 1787 European journey memorandums Indian removal letters Jefferson Bible
Jefferson Bible
(1895) Jefferson manuscript collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society The Papers of Thomas Jefferson


Age of Enlightenment American Enlightenment American Philosophical Society American Revolution


Member, Virginia Committee of Correspondence Committee of the States Founding Fathers of the United States Franco-American alliance Jefferson and education Religious views Jefferson and slavery Jefferson and the Library of Congress Jefferson disk Jefferson Pier Pet mockingbird National Gazette Residence Act

Compromise of 1790

Sally Hemings

Jefferson–Hemings controversy Betty Hemings

Separation of church and state Swivel chair The American Museum magazine Virginia dynasty


United States Presidential election 1796 1800 1804


Bibliography Jefferson Memorial Mount Rushmore Birthday Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Building Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Center for the Protection of Free Expression Jefferson Lecture Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Star for Foreign Service Jefferson Lab Monticello
Association Jefferson City, Missouri Jefferson College Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
School of Law Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
University Washington and Jefferson National Forests Other placenames Currency depictions

Jefferson nickel Two-dollar bill

U.S. postage stamps

Popular culture

Ben and Me (1953 short) 1776 (1969 musical 1972 film) Jefferson in Paris
Jefferson in Paris
(1995 film) Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
(1997 film) Liberty! (1997 documentary series) Liberty's Kids
Liberty's Kids
(2002 animated series) John Adams
John Adams
(2008 miniseries) Jefferson's Garden (2015 play) Hamilton (2015 musical) Jefferson–Eppes Trophy Wine bottles controversy


Peter Jefferson
Peter Jefferson
(father) Jane Randolph Jefferson
Jane Randolph Jefferson
(mother) Lucy Jefferson Lewis (sister) Randolph Jefferson (brother) Isham Randolph (grandfather) William Randolph
William Randolph
(great-grandfather) Martha Jefferson
Martha Jefferson
(wife) Martha Jefferson
Martha Jefferson
Randolph (daughter) Mary Jefferson Eppes (daughter) Harriet Hemings
Harriet Hemings
(daughter) Madison Hemings
Madison Hemings
(son) Eston Hemings
Eston Hemings
(son) Thomas J. Randolph (grandson) Francis Eppes (grandson) George W. Randolph
George W. Randolph
(grandson) John Wayles Jefferson (grandson) Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
Thomas Mann Randolph Jr.
(son-in-law) John Wayles Eppes (son-in-law) John Wayles (father-in-law) Dabney Carr
Dabney Carr
(brother-in-law) Dabney Carr
Dabney Carr

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