Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000)

TV Movie   |  Unrated   |    |  Biography, Drama, History

Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000) Poster

Epic television miniseries exploring the complicated relationship of Thomas Jefferson and slave Sally Hemings, who conducted a 38 year love affair, spanning an ocean, ultimately producing children, grandchildren, and lots of controversy.


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Charles Haid


Tina Andrews

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11 May 2000 | Rotundy
Can't they ever get it right?
Personally I'm tired of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, what's so shocking about a man taking a mistress whether they are white, black, purple or green. Why is Jefferson put on this golden pedestal? What's so shocking about finding out that this man ascending to heaven had flesh just like everyone else.

Personally, I came away feeling angry about the movie. Can't people to any more research than what they do? James Callender was scrupulous, yes, but he was a reporter and jailed under the Alien and Sedition Acts. He could have been reward a little from his trouble, after all Jefferson couldn't be happier when he was publishing his History of 1797 against the Federalists. If it wasn't for James Callender we probably wouldn't even be seeing this movie and the gossip that came of it would have died a gradual death. Next is Dolly Madison. Did any of those people actually look at a picture of Dolly Madison? She had black hair not red and that table scene when James Callender was asking her about her and Aaron Burr in New York. She wasn't even in New York; she was in Philadelphia burying a husband and a son from the yellow fever epidemic. There were other things I could point out as well but the average person doesn't realize the mistakes and that's what makes me so angry.

I see historical movies and how they botch things up makes me so mad and what I get angry over is the fact that people see these movies and believe what they see. They don't bother to look for themselves to find the truth.

Besides the great criticism I did enjoy Sam Neil as Jefferson I thought his manner seemed fitting, better than Nick Nolte in Jefferson in Paris. Mare Winningham was perhaps the best as Martha Jefferson constantly struggling between the duties of a mistress of the plantation, daughter to her father, and his relationship with Sally. When it was all over, it was entertaining and that is the number one motive behind this movie.

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