Peter Clarke (1929 - )
The Presidentís Lady

mixed media
50 x 35cm

One of the founders of the Nation, Third President of the United
States, the author of the US Declaration of Independence & an
important scholar, architect, scientific inventor & lawyer, a
man with firm republican principles. But as an afterthought,
almost as if it is of minor importance, it is sometimes mentioned
that this man who was one of the greatest of democrats
also owned slaves.
And I, Sally Hennings, slave, lover, President's lady? I linger
in the shadows. The official history books hesitate to acknowledge
my existence in the same way that they reluctantly
mention Mr Jefferson's name in connection with slavery.
Because of my lowly position & my dark skin I taint the
pages of history. I remain not quite fact yet not quite
fiction, almost a figment of the imagination.
But as with the offspring of other people who once were
great or even unimportant in their day, who says the
descendants of the President & his slave lady don't live
their lives perhaps even serving their nation today as true &
worthy citizens?

© 2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.