A Civil Action:

Sally Hemings v. Thomas Jefferson

William G. Hyland, Jr.†

William G. Hyland††


Allegations that Thomas Jefferson had an affair and fathered at least one child with slave Sally Hemings have been discussed for two centuries. In this Article, the authors summarize a “mock” trial defense of Jefferson, concluding that the allegations are unproved by the greater weight of the evidence.  

“All should be laid open to you without reserve, for there is not a truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.”1