I absolutely agree with you there. Sally Hemings could not refuse or accept this relationship. It was simply "normal" at the time and hence unescapable. But we must also see that the oldest age at which a girl could be given in marriage was THIRTEEN in Great Britain and in most states of the United States, and it could go down to ELEVEN. So formerly it was not the rape of a child at the time. We today consider that at 14 a woman is still a child, and by the way a man too. But at the end of the 18th century and through the 19th century, the concept of teenage did not exist and the concept of child was even hardly considered over the age of ten or eleven, at times earlier: see working "children" of seven, eight, etc., then, including in mines, as chimney sweepers, etc. (see the poems by Blake on chimneysweeps, and an opera by Benjamin britten if I am not mistaken) It has to be taught in all schools that Jefferson had a life long relationship with his black servant who actually was a slave, and the names and fates of the children should be clearly exposed, and I do say exposed not simply stated, exposed and stigmatized. But for anyone at the time when average life expectancy was around 29-30 years, less for slaves of course, the age of 14 definitely was adult enough to enter matrimony, wilfully or not. That does not change the fact that Jefferson took his maid as a long-lasting sexual partner, thirty years younger than him, which is unethical in our modern ethics, but at the time ... That excuses nothing. But it explains a lot. On plantations at the time children and even infants in slavery, boys and girls alike, could be raped by their white masters (as soon as they could perform such a sex act, meaning as soon as ten or eleven) with no possibility to refuse, and with a whipping added on top if the performance was not good. Compare that with Sally Hemings fate. She was nearly living her "rape" as if it were paradise. Were her children sold on teh salve market in New Orleans or wherever there was one?

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Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, PhD in Germanic Linguistics (University Lille III) and ESP Teaching (University Bordeaux II) has been teaching all types of ESP

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