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Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, April 22, 2009. The new $43 million complex consists of five western-cedar pavilions that give visitors a greater insight into the life and ideals of the Nation's Third President. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Thomas Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings isn't a secret at Monticello anymore


For decades, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello has conveniently erased Sally Hemings's presence at the third president's home. 

A new restoration project, however, is aimed at placing more of an emphasis on the lives of enslaved people who lived and worked there -- including Hemings who is believed to have given birth to several of Jefferson's children. 

Who was Sally Hemings? 

Hemings may have been the daughter of Thomas Jefferson's father-in-law, John Wayles, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. As a child, historians say she likely served as a nursemaid to Jefferson's daughter Mary. 

Sally Hemings's son Madison Hemings told the Thomas Jefferson Foundation that at Monticello she took care of Jefferson's chamber and wardrobe, looked after the children and did light sewing work. 

Hemings had at least six children who are believed to have been fathered by Jefferson years after his wife died. Only four of those six children survived into adulthood, according to records left behind by Jefferson. 

The room where historians believe she slept was turned into a restroom in 1941 in an effort to gloss over the former president's controversial relationship with Hemings, The Washington Post reports. 

However, the $35 million Mountaintop Project aims to restore Monticello to the condition in which Jefferson knew it. 

That restoration includes telling "the stories of the people -- both enslaved and free -- who lived and worked on the 5,000-acre plantation," according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. 


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