Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings – a book by Stephen O’Connor

Thomas Jefferson

… I am trying to tell the truth to its “teeth and forehead, ” as Shakespeare says.  Yet I am afraid that I am building a big lie out of tiny facts, that everything I say about who I was and how I lived will imply that I could have lived no other  life, that I was entirely dispossessed of freedom of will. The simple fact that  tortures me to this very instant is that I was never without freedom of will,  that at any of countless junctures I could have said, “No,” and I would have  lived a different life. Nothing was truly inevitable, and even when I didn’t  know I was making a choice, I was—and I must bear the burden of those  choices. Most troubling of all, however, are the times when I did know I was  making a choice and a voice inside me told me that the choice was wrong but l  didn’t listen—because I didn’t believe the voice, or I didn’t want to believe it,  or because I couldn’t really hear it among a thousand other voices. But nevertheless, it spoke, and l didn’t listen, and l am damned.