Papers of John Hartwell Cocke

Cocke, a close friend of Jefferson, mentions the Jefferson-Hemings relationship twice in his diaries.










1853 January 26 (in the diary beginning 1852 November 19)

John Hartwell Cocke, who helped Thomas Jefferson found the University of Virginia, often complained in his diaries about the practice of slave owners having children with their slave women. Although the two men were friends, Cocke complained that this practice was commonplace, especially when, “Mr. Jefferson’s notorious example is considered.”






1859 April 23 (in the diary beginning 1858 March 25)

In this entry, General Cocke discusses the practice of slave owners keeping a slave woman, “as a substitute for a wife.”