The sixth-great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings poses in similar attire to the US president for photo shoot as he says his life shows Americans have ‘more in common than some may think’

  • Shannon LaNier, the sixth-great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, wore a similar outfit as his ancestor for Smithsonian Magazine
  • Image was taken for the Smithsonian Magazine’s article, American Descendants
  • The magazine’s article features photos by British photographer Drew Gardner 
  • Gardner has tracked down descendants of famous Europeans such as Napoleon and Charles Dickens to see if they would ‘pose as their famous forebears’ 
  • LaNier, who is black, said the article ‘is helping hold a mirror to America’
  • He said it reflects how Jefferson ‘not only took part in creating this country but also it’s people… black, white, brown, yellow & red’

The sixth-great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings has shared an image of himself posing alongside the third US president as part of a photo series that he says holds ‘a mirror’ to America. 

Shannon LaNier was photographed by British photographer Drew Gardner for the Smithsonian Magazine’s article, American Descendants. 

LaNier, who is a TV host in Houston, shared the images of him dressed in similar attire as Jefferson on Instagram. 

‘The @smithsonianmagazine is helping hold a mirror to #America & reflect how #President #ThomasJefferson not only took part in creating this country but also it’s people… black, white, brown, yellow & red!’ LaNier wrote.  

Thomas Jefferson

Shannon LaNier

Shannon LaNier (right), the sixth-great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson (left) and his slave Sally Hemings has shared an image of himself posing alongside the third US president as part of a photo series that he says holds ‘a mirror’ to America

‘As the 6th great grandson of TJ & #SallyHemings, I’m only 1 example of how #slavery has not only separated the country but also made us more in common & connected than some may think!’ he continued. 

While his attire was similar to Jefferson’s in the portraits, LaNier chose not to wear a wig. 

‘I didn’t want to become Jefferson,’ LaNier told the Smithsonian Magazine.

'As the 6th great grandson of TJ & #SallyHemings, I'm only 1 example of how #slavery has not only separated the country but also made us more in common & connected than some may think!' LaNier (pictured) continued

‘As the 6th great grandson of TJ & #SallyHemings, I’m only 1 example of how #slavery has not only separated the country but also made us more in common & connected than some may think!’ LaNier (pictured) continued 

‘My ancestor had his dreams—and now it’s up to all of us living in America today to make sure no one is excluded from the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ 

LaNier, who co-authored the book Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family, added: ‘He was a brilliant man who preached equality, but he didn’t practice it. He owned people. And now I’m here because of it.’

Sally Hemings was the mother of six of Thomas Jefferson’s children while she was enslaved at the Monticello estate. 

Ellen Wayles Hemings, pictured, (1856-1940) was the granddaughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. She married her next door neighbour Andrew Jackson Roberts in 1878

Ellen Wayles Hemings, pictured, (1856-1940) was the granddaughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. She married her next door neighbour Andrew Jackson Roberts in 1878

Harriet Hemings, pictured as a young woman, was the granddaughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson

Harriet Hemings pictured later in life

Harriet Hemings, pictured as a young woman (left) and later in life (right), was the granddaughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson

According to her son Madison Hemings, her father was Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles. 

Hemings became Jefferson’s property as part of his inheritance from the Wayles estate in 1774 and came with her mother Elizabeth Hemings in 1776. 

Hemings worked as a household servant and was never a free woman, but she was allowed to leave Monticello following Jefferson’s death to live with sons Madison and Eston Hemings in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Frederick Madison Roberts was the son of Andrew Jackson Roberts and Ellen Wayles Hemings - the grand-daughter of Sally Hemings. He was the first African American elected to the California State Assembly in 1918

Frederick Madison Roberts was the son of Andrew Jackson Roberts and Ellen Wayles Hemings – the grand-daughter of Sally Hemings. He was the first African American elected to the California State Assembly in 1918

Emma Byrd Young, third left, pictured with her her husband George and their 10 children at some time in 1915, was the great-grand daughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson- whose family left Virginia in 1827 and settled in Southern Ohio

Emma Byrd Young, third left, pictured with her her husband George and their 10 children at some time in 1915, was the great-grand daughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson- whose family left Virginia in 1827 and settled in Southern Ohio

Jacqueline Pettiford and her family, who are descendants of Madison Hemings, Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson's son, standing outside of the Monticello estate in Charlottesville, Virginia

Jacqueline Pettiford and her family, who are descendants of Madison Hemings, Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson’s son, standing outside of the Monticello estate in Charlottesville, Virginia

The photo series also included descendants of Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton posing as their relatives.

Gardner’s photo series started about 15 years ago when he began tracking down the descendants of famous Europeans like Napoleon and Oliver Cromwell for the purpose of asking them to pose as their famous relatives. 

He then turned his sights to the US, telling the Smithsonian Magazine: ‘For all its travails, America is the most brilliant idea.’ 

SALLY HEMINGS: THE SLAVE WHO GAVE BIRTH TO SIX OF JEFFERSON’S CHILDREN

Sally Hemings (1773-1835) was a slave at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate

Sally Hemings (1773-1835) was a slave at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate

Sally Hemings was the mother of six of Thomas Jefferson’s children while she was enslaved at the Monticello estate.

The six children were: Harriet (born 1795; died in infancy); Beverly (born 1798); an unnamed daughter (born 1799; died in infancy); Harriet (born 1801); Madison (born 1805); and Eston (born 1808). 

According to her son Madison Hemings, her father was Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles. 

There are no know portraits of Sally Hemings, and one of the few accounts of her by an enslaved blacksmith named Isaac Granger Jefferson said that Sally Hemings was ‘mighty near white…very handsome, long straight hair down her back.’

While this has been subject to debate, a 1998 DNA study genetically linked Hemings’ male descendants with male descendants of the Jefferson family.

Sally Hemings became Thomas Jefferson’s property as part of his inheritance from the Wayles estate in 1774 and came with her mother Elizabeth Hemings in 1776.

As a child, she was probably a nursemaid to Jefferson’s daughter Maria, as enslaved girls from the age of six or eight were childminders and assistants to head nurses on southern plantations.

One of the few accounts of Sally Hemings was given by an enslaved blacksmith named Isaac Granger Jefferson

One of the few accounts of Sally Hemings was given by an enslaved blacksmith named Isaac Granger Jefferson

Sally served as an attendant to Maria Jefferson, as well as Martha Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s wife, accompanying them on various trips to Paris.

After her return to Virginia in 1789, Sally Hemings remained at Monticello and worked as a household servant.

Sally’s son Madison recalled that one of her duties was ‘to take care of [Jefferson’s] chamber and wardrobe, look after us children, and do light work such as sewing.’

While Hemings was never technically a free woman, she was allowed to leave Monticello following Thomas Jefferson’s death to live with sons Madison and Eston Hemings in Charlottesville.   

Source: Monticello.org 

source: dailymail.co.uk

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here