Portraits of Enslaved People

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Slaves of George Washington

Slaves of Thomas Jefferson

  • Christopher Sheels - Slave of Washington
  • Betty Hemings
  • Beverly Hemings
  • Harriet Hemings
  • Eston Hemings
  • Wormley Hughes - Jefferson’s gardener
  • Recollections of Madison Hemings
  • Recollections of Israel Jefferson
  • The Revolutionary leaders never intended to create an original and peculiar indigenous culture. Despite all their talk of American exceptionalism and American virtue in contrast with European corruption, they were seeking not to cut themselves off from Europe’s cultural heritage but to embrace it and in fact to fulfill it. It is a mistake to view America’s post-Revolutionary emulation of Europe as a legacy of helpless dependence passed on from colonial days. Americans imitated European styles and forms not because in their naïveté they could nothing else but because they wanted to.... Their revolution was very much an international affair, an attempt to fulfill the cosmopolitan dreams of the Enlightenment.

    Gordon S. Wood
    Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)