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Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000)

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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3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Mann Randolph (as Zeljko Ivanek)
Jessica Townsend ...
Henry Jackson (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)
Peter Bradbury ...
Chris Stafford ...


The story of the extraordinary, controversial thirty-eight-year relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress, Sally Hemings. The teenage Sally begins her unexpected relationship with widower Thomas Jefferson in Paris where he is serving as the U.S. Ambassador to France. After escorting Jefferson's younger daughter on a trans-Atlantic journey to join him in Paris, Sally is soon exposed to a world quite unlike the one in which she has lived as an illiterate slave in Monticello. While Sally serves as a nanny of sorts, Jefferson provides her with an education, fine clothes and opportunities to experience cultural events. She and her brother, James, who works as Jefferson's chef and was also educated by him, delight in the fact that they are free in France-and are treated with respect. It is under these circumstances that Sally and Jefferson become acquainted with one another and begin an affair that will ultimately lead to scandal. Written by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Bound by Slavery. Freed by Love. See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

13 February 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monticello  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The character of "Young Tom Hemings" (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), portrayed as the first born child of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, was a fictional character. None of the six children, born in the United States (there is some evidence of a child born while in France, who died soon after returning to Virginia), as a result of the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson were conclusively named Tom or Thomas, and, the only child even possibly named Tom or Thomas was the sixth born, commonly known as Eston Hemings, not the first born. The first child to survive into adulthood was Beverley Hemings, a boy (possibly named William Beverley Hemings 1798-c. 1873). Beverley was also the first child of the Hemings/Jefferson relationship to leave the plantation, ostensibly "running away" at age 24, to be joined later that year by his sister Harriet, who was openly released by Jefferson, when she was given $50 and put on a northbound stagecoach by plantation overseer Edmund Bacon. The only known contemporary account/claim of a Hemings/Jefferson child to be born before 1795, and to survive into adulthood, was by James Callender (portrayed by Rene Auberjonois), known to bear a grudge against President Jefferson because of not being appointed as U.S. Postmaster of Richmond, as alluded to in this movie, and the name of that child was supposedly Thomas C. Woodson. See more »


[first lines]
Sally Hemings: I was born a slave, but destined to scandal.
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Crazy Credits

ON SCREEN: Sally Hemings tended Thomas Jefferson's grave until her death in 1835. See more »

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User Reviews

take you're time, it's well worth watching
15 June 2005 | by (Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Although not a fan of one specific genre ,a DRAMA/ROMANCE genre is not my first favor to watch. Started watching the movie didn't get my attention at first and the feeling arose to stop it and look at another movie. Just over 1000 movies waiting to be seen in my DVD-collection, it was very tempting to 'save this one for later'. Finally it was a TV production, so it couldn't be too good, was my reasoning. But I was wrong, and was really wrong. After about 15 minutes, the movie was attracting my attention and I went on seeing it. After 30 minutes 'I was all in it' and really enjoyed it. There is exceptional good acting and a good story line. All characters where 'real' in their acting, contributing to the experience of the story told in the movie. I can't say anything about the historical truth of this movie, but I didn't watch it from that point of view. I watched it to enjoy a good movie and it seemed to be one. So to be short: Try this movie and look at it for a minimum of the first 20 minutes, before deciding to stop, which in my opinion is the wrong thing to do. It's just the habit of having movies catches you in their first minutes. Well, this one surely isn't one of such, but it evolves slowly but surely to a good movie while watching. One important fact to mention is the music used to support the story in the movie. It's an exceptional good choice that was made here. I don't know if the movie has better soundtracks then the version I saw (dutch version) with 2.0 Dolby surround, but surely a well recorded 5.1 or even DTS soundtrack would significant improve the total movie experience. But being a TV production, I doubt there is something better than 2.0 Dolby surround (although you can leave out the 'surround' because it isn't really there). Despite this technical aspect it turned out to be a surprisingly good movie and I was very glad, I DID finish my watching. Believe me, this movie is much better than one might expect. And I can especially recommend this movie for women, cause I think they even more appreciate this movie than the 'we coming from mars'-guys.

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