John Wayles Jefferson was the oldest child of Eston Hemings, a son of Sally Hemings. His family moved to Ohio after her death, and on to Wisconsin, where the family changed their surname to Jefferson. Being light-skinned, Jefferson lived as a white person, operating a hotel and restaurant in Madison. In 1861, he enlisted in the 8th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. John Wayles Jefferson rose to the rank of colonel while fighting in battles near Vicksburg and Jackson. When he ran into an old acquaintance from Ohio during the war, Jefferson begged his friend not to tell the fact that he had colored blood in his veins, which he said was not suspected by any of his command. After the war, he settled in Memphis and became a prominent citizen, plantation owner, and wealthy cotton broker.
Slavery at Monticello
Thomas Jefferson fathered six children with his slave Sally Hemings. Descendants of slaves at Monticello became important figures in American history. Eston Hemings (1808-1856) was the youngest son of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. In 1832, Eston married a free woman of color, Julia Ann Isaacs. They changed their surname to Jefferson and lived henceforth as white citizens. Their son, John Wayles Jefferson served in the Civil War, becoming a colonel.
This John Wayles Jefferson mug is part of our Civil War and African American Series profiling outstanding men and women who have helped shape our country in important and positive ways.
The biographical History Mugs were created to teach and inspire individuals to learn about our diverse and interesting history. The biographies were researched and written by history enthusiast, Robert Compton. He colorized most of the historic photos and images used on the mugs, which were originally black and white or sepia tone. The images and biographies are imprinted on mugs at his studio in rural Vermont.
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- To preserve photographic quality we recommend hand washing.
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