- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 20, 2002

Thomas Jefferson's heirs are proposing the creation of a separate cemetery on the grounds of Monticello for the descendants of slave Sally Hemings, but they aren't ready to let her offspring into the family association.
A 24-page report by the family committee concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to prove that the nation's third president and author of the Declaration of Independence fathered at least some of Hemings' children.
Lineal descent is a strict requirement for admission and for burial in the family plot at Monticello.
"We cannot change or reinvent history," reads the report, which has been circulating among Jefferson family members during the past few weeks and was obtained by the Associated Press. "We can, however, embrace what we know and assign credit where credit is due or long overdue."
A Hemings descendant yesterday said the proposal is just another example of separate but unequal.
"Nothing's changed in 200 years, has it?" Julia Westerinen of New York City said, after learning of the recommendation by the Monticello Association's membership advisory committee. "They're still saying the same thing: You've got to sit in the back of the bus."
Hemings' descendants have been trying for years to gain official recognition that Jefferson fathered at least some of Hemings' children. Their argument was bolstered in 1998, when DNA tests found that a male in Jefferson's family fathered Hemings' last child, Eston.
The Jefferson heirs own only the half-acre family plot at Monticello and could not on their own create a second graveyard on the grounds of the estate. Instead, they would have to request that the foundation that now owns Monticello set aside land.
The committee suggested that the family create an umbrella organization for the slaves and others who built Monticello and enabled Jefferson to accomplish his great deeds.
The new group, which the committee suggests calling Families of Jefferson's Monticello, would be open to anyone who could prove descent from one of the slaves or artisans who worked at the plantation during Jefferson's life or anyone who lived on the plantation at that time.
The committee also suggested that the family work with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns the 6,000-acre plantation near Charlottesville, to explore creating a separate cemetery.
The Monticello Association is scheduled to meet May 4-5 in Charlottesville to vote on the proposal.
Some on the white side of the Jefferson family say the committee went beyond its mandate for reasons of political correctness.
John H. Works Jr., president of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, mailed a newsletter to the family association's 700-plus members, complaining that the lines between the two cemeteries "would blur."
Lucian Truscott IV, a Jefferson descendant who caused a furor three years ago by inviting Hemings' descendants to the annual family gathering, said the Jefferson family could be missing a historic chance.
"They want the Hemingses to give up and all the Monticello reunions to go back to being sort of country-club Republican white guys in blue blazers sitting around drinking on the lawn," said Mr. Truscott, a Los Angeles-based author. "And that's not going to happen."

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