Madison Hemings

Freed Slave + May Be Son of Thomas Jefferson
Born Jan 18, 1805

Madison Hemings, born James Madison Hemings, was the son of the mixed-race slave Sally Hemings; he was the third of four children to survive to adulthood. Born into slavery by his mother's status, he was freed by the will of his master Thomas Jefferson in 1826. Based on historical and DNA evidence, a consensus of historians have come to agree that Jefferson was likely the father of all Hemings' children.… Read More

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News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about Madison Hemings.

  • Did Mr Jefferson Do It? Pajamas Media
    Google News - Aug 31, 2011
  • Exploring Grays In A Black And White World Miller Mc Cune.Com
    Google News - Jul 19, 2011
  • The Master And The Mistress
    NYTimes - Oct 05, 2008
  • This Land; Atop A Hallowed Mountain, Small Steps Toward Healing
    NYTimes - Mar 31, 2008


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Madison Hemings.


1805 Birth Born on January 18, 1805.


1826 21 Years Old Born into slavery by his mother's status, he was freed by the will of his master Thomas Jefferson in 1826. … Read More
1827 22 Years Old …  As Jefferson did not free their wives and children, all were sold along with Monticello's nearly 130 other slaves at auctions in 1827 to settle the heavy debts against his estate. … Read More
1831 26 Years Old In September 1831, in his mid-twenties, Madison Hemings was described in a special census of the State of Virginia as being: 5"7 3/8 Inches high light complexion no scars or marks perceivable". Forty-two years later at the time of his interview, a journalist described him as "five feet ten inches in height, sparely made, with sandy complexion and a mild gray eye." In 1834 Madison wed Mary Hughes McCoy, a free woman of mixed-race ancestry (her grandfather Samuel Hughes, a white planter, freed her grandmother Chana from slavery and had children with her.) They had two children born in Virginia.


1835 30 Years Old After Madison and his younger brother Eston were freed, they each worked and married, living with their families and mother Sally in Charlottesville until her death in 1835. … Read More
1836 31 Years Old In 1836 Madison, Mary and their infant daughter Sarah left Charlottesville for Pike County, Ohio, probably to join his brother Eston, who had already moved there with his own family. … Read More


1852 47 Years Old In 1852, Madison's brother, Eston, moved with his family away from Ohio (and his brother) to Madison, Wisconsin, to get further from possible danger due to passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. … Read More


Madison grew up at Monticello. His surviving mixed-race siblings were an older brother Beverly and sister Harriet, and a younger brother Eston. According to his 1873 memoir, Madison was named for Jefferson's close friend and future president James Madison at the request of Madison's wife Dolley. … Read More
1877 73 Years Old Died on November 28, 1877.
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