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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.


Charles Haid


Tina Andrews

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3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sam Neill ... Thomas Jefferson
Carmen Ejogo ... Sally Hemings
Diahann Carroll ... Betty Hemings
Mare Winningham ... Martha 'Patsy' Jefferson Randolph
Mario Van Peebles ... James Hemings
Rene Auberjonois ... James Callender
Zeljko Ivanek ... Thomas Mann Randolph (as Zeljko Ivanek)
Klea Scott ... Critta Hemings
Jessica Townsend Jessica Townsend ... Maria 'Polly' Jefferson
Lawrence Gilliard Jr. ... Henry Jackson (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)
Kevin Conway ... Thomas Paine
Amelia Heinle ... Harriet Hemings
Peter Bradbury Peter Bradbury ... Samuel Carr
Chris Stafford Chris Stafford ... Peter Carr
Kelly Rutherford ... Lady Maria Cosway


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 »





English | French

Release Date:

13 February 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Monticello See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

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User Reviews

Carmen Ejogo made this movie worth watching!
14 February 2000 | by Juliet Gabriella KaleighSee all my reviews

I liked this movie, I didn't love it, however. I don't think that the relationship between Sally and Jefferson was particularly startling, I don't understand why the relationship would be a shock to anybody. Slaves are people too, so of course, people can fall in love with a slave, it's not impossible. I happen to be a black girl who likes white men, shocking? I think not. I do think that this movie did not concentrate on family, enough, I wouldn't have expected Jefferson to have long chats with his biracial children, but Sally too hardly said anything to them. And I so wish that people would quit calling Sally Hemings black, or colored. Sally was white AND black, a simple blood test would show that. Most blacks don't choose to believe that blacks should be considered less than a whole human, but they'll go for that one-drop-of-black-blood crap in a second! Carmen Ejogo didn't play Sally as well as Thandie Newton did to me, but she did a fine job!

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