Excerpt from The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Hemingses of Monticello

An American Family

by Annette Gordon-Reed

The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 800 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2009, 800 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Partus sequitur ventrem, then, was an important first principle in this nascent slave-owning society based upon race. Like all efficient legal rules, it achieved its aim—here, the maximum protection of property rights—with little or no intervention by the state or other third parties. The private conduct of men would have no serious impact on the emerging slave society as a whole. White men could engage in sex with black women without creating a class of freeborn mixed-race people to complicate matters. Men, who can produce many more children than women, and who throughout history have been less subject to social stricture for their sexuality, constituted the greater potential threat for bringing this class into being. Following the dictates of their English heritage would have required some white men to tell other white men what women they could and could not have sex with, knowing full well the day might come when others would have the opportunity to return the favor. Under the rules of the game the burgesses constructed, there was no need to interfere with other men's conduct, even as the efforts to control white women's sexual activity grew ever more strenuous. Whatever the social tensions and confusion created by the presence of people who were neither black nor white, Virginia's law on inheriting status through the mother effectively ended threats to slave masters' property rights when interracial sex produced children who confounded the supposedly fixed categories of race.

Excerpted from The Hemingses of Monticello © Copyright 2008 by Annette Gordon-Reed. Reprinted with permission by W. W. Norton. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: If We Were Villains
    If We Were Villains
    by M L. Rio
    22 out of 28 of our reviewers rated If We Were Villains four or five stars, giving it an overall ...
  • Book Jacket: The Islamic Enlightenment
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Leavers
    The Leavers
    by Lisa Ko
    The day before Deming Guo saw his mother for the last time, she surprised him at school. A navy blue...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Scribe of Siena
    by Melodie Winawer

    Equal parts transporting love story, meticulously researched historical fiction, and compelling time-travel narrative.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Chalk Pit

The Chalk Pit:
A Ruth Galloway Mystery

A string of murders takes Ruth underground in the newest book in the series.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T W Don't M A R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -