Anatomy of a Scandal

  • In this book Rebecca and James McMurry make a significant contribution to our understanding of the real, historical story behind the Sally Hemings myths. Although they are not professional historians, the McMurrys in fact have bested many of the historians and other professional scholars who have written on this subject, in doing their research thoroughly and carefully, uncovering the true origins of the Sally story. They reveal, for the first time in print, the full chronology of the story, tracing it back to the scandalmongers with whom it originated, men whose enmity toward Jefferson (and his father-in-law, John Wayles) was both personal and political. It is a fascinating story that needs to be told, and this book tells it ably.

David N. Mayer
Professor of Law and History, Capitol University

  • Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with the slave Sally Hemings and her descendants has entered the realm of mythical significance. Many people, for reasons that have everything to do with political power and little to do with historical accuracy, passionately want to believe that Jefferson, the great spokesman for liberty and equality, was the father of mixed-blood children by a slave mistress. The accusation has been aired, since it was first published by a notorious slanderer in 1802, mostly on the basis of innuendo and assertions made on insufficient evidence. We have badly needed a book like Anatomy of a Scandal, which subjects the question to exhaustive research by the strict standards of true historical investigation. This meticulous, balanced, and reasonable book contains more real and substantial information on the Hemings affair than all the other published material put together.

Clyde N. Wilson,
Professor of History, University of South Carolina

  • Anatomy of a Scandal is the definitive study of the oldest scandal in American presidential history. Drawing on their experience and skills as medical practitioners and amateur genealogists, Rebecca and James McMurry make a compelling argument against the allegation that Sally Hemings was the slave lover of Thomas Jefferson. The authors meticulously sift through the DNA evidence, social and political histories and genealogical documentation in their research to arrive at the conclusion that the Jefferson-Hemings paternity claim is likely a fabrication of Jefferson’s political enemies and jealous relatives.

W. Wesley McDonald
Associate Professor of Political Science, Elizabethtown College

Published from Anatomy of a Scandal: Thomas Jefferson and the SALLY Story by Rebecca L. McMurry and James F. McMurry, Jr., 2002. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED-No part may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, White Mane Publishing Co., Inc., P.O.Box 708, Shippensburg, PA 17257 (OR) email:

Anatomy of a Scandal can be ordered from with the link on the right.

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