James Hemings

Portrait by Artist to Come

1765 in Guinea, Cumberland County, Virginia
1801 in Baltimore, Maryland




James Hemings, brother of Sally Hemings, was a Monticello slave who, when Thomas Jefferson was in Paris, trained as a chef so that he could return to Monticello and train other slaves to cook in the French style. Jefferson freed him in 1796, after he had trained his brother, Peter, to master French cooking.

Sadly, the transition to freedom was not successful and James died a few year later in 1801. He was only 36 (or 37).

| Jefferson, Thomas


John Adams was inaugurated as second president on March 4, 1797. Washington had preceded him to the hall and sat on the dais with Jefferson the Vice-President-elect, as Adams spoke. When the new President finished and left, Washington motioned to Jefferson to go next. The two Virginians had known each other since 1769, when Washington had been thirty-seven years old and Jefferson only twenty-six. From long habit and lingering respect, Jefferson now held back. But Washington gestured again, in a manner not to be ignored. The younger man was now Vice-President and must go first.

Richard Brookhiser
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)