Jefferson in Paris (1995) Script

My wife, Mary Hemings, was Mary McCoy. We never took the name Jefferson, sir.

We's all Hemingses.

I trust you had no trouble finding our place?

We are a bit out of the way.

Yes, well, we journalists will always find our destination if there's a good story at the end of it.

Sit, please. Oh, well, thank you.


It's like this, sir. When my father died he was what they calls bankrupt.

Your father being... President Thomas Jefferson?

Yes, sir. That is true and correct.

He was the third President of the United States.

You write mighty fast, sir. Ah! We call this shorthand.


Mary don't read or write nothin'.

I learned on my own self. Got the white children to learn me in secret.

Mr. Lettinger, has anybody ever told you it was against the law to learn a Negro how to read and write during slavery?

They did tell about some owners that cut off a finger every time they catch a slave tryin' to get learnin'.

They was afraid, you see, of the Negro readin' and getting to know too much.

Getting ideas in his head.

Mary, take my key and bring them things out.

There was four of us living at Monticello.

The children of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.

There was three of us boys, Beverly, Eston and myself. Madison.

We had one sister, Harriet.


Did Mr. Jefferson have children with any other slave woman besides your mother?

No. Only our mother. We was the only ones.

Did Mr. Jefferson ever show you any partiality or fatherly affection?

He didn't favor us like he did his white children and grandchildren, but we was well treated.

Didn't have to do any field work or any other hard labor.

My sister Harriet was put to weavin' and spinnin' and such, in a little factory on the home plantation.

And I was put to the carpenter trade.

My brother Eston and me was more of the African blood.

But my brother Beverly, you couldn't hardly tell him from white.

He so took after my father that they tell the story of a French gentleman dining with Mr. Jefferson and seeing Beverly.

He did give a mighty jump to see the spittin' image of Thomas Jefferson serving his soup.

They were given by my father to my mother.

And when she dies, she give 'em to me.

So these are your sole and only...

May I? Sure.

Sole and only legacy from Thomas Jefferson?

Oh, no, sir. Our legacy was our freedom, long before emancipation.

By the age of 21 we could pick up and leave.

Wasn't slaves no more.

This was written in the will of our father and his solemn promise to our mother:

"All our children will be free."

"I will set them free."

And so it was done. It was mighty sweet to be free, sir.

They used to sing a song...

Free at last. Free at last.

Thank God Almighty I's free at last.

Once was a moaner.

Just like you.

Thank God Almighty I's free at last.

Lord, Lord, Lord, them days was the days. Mm?

Thank God Almighty I's free at last.

Sure did fast and I did pray.

Thomas Jefferson, minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America.

"In the name of the United States of America,"

"I have the great honor of paying homage to Your Majesty,"

"as well as to all members of the royal family."

"Au nom des Etats-Unis d'Amérigue septentrionale."

"J'ai l'insigne honneur de presenter mes hommages a Votre Majeste."

"Ainsi gu'a toute la famille royale."

"It is in obedience to the express commands"

"of the Congress of the United States of America"

"that I have the honor of assuring Your Majesty..."

"C'est sur l'ordre expres des membres Du congres des Etats-Unis d'Amérique."

"Que jai Le privilege d'assurer Votre Majesté..."

"of their unanimous disposition and desire to cultivate"

"the most friendly and liberal intercourse between Your Majesty's subjects"

"and their citizens."

"de leur désir empressé de tous ses membres"

"de nouer Les liens Les plus amicaux et Les plus riches"

"entre Les sujets de Votre Majesté et Les citoyens de leur pays."

"Another great nation, sire, is rising in America."

Um... Have you found a good house?

I thank Your Majesty for your kind concern.

I have agreed to the Hotel de Langeac, by the Grille de Chaillot.

It's very important to have a decent house in Paris.

Antoine. Bon Dieu!

Oh hisse. Oh hisse. Oh hisse.

Donne Du pied. Donne Du pied. La.

Look over these figures again. We don't want to be caught out.

All right. All right.

All right. All right.

I want a bull's-eye opening.

I veut un oeil-de-boeuf.

Mon Dieu.

You'd better get used to getting hit over the head.

Master can't live but he's pulling something down and building something up and pulling that down again.


Come see!

A new girl.

She's odd-looking, but pretty. She must come from abroad.

Good day, Mr. Jefferson, Mademoiselle...

Please follow me. I'll take you to Mother Superior.

Par ici. Je vous prie.

Your father will see you before he leaves.

A fine, tall girl.

She has inherited your height, monsieur.

Yes, and that's no trifle for a girl to inherit.

I'm relieved that your English is so greatly superior to my French, madame L'Abbesse.

Because what I wish to say is not altogether easy to express in any language.

Perhaps I may even venture to express it for you, monsieur.

We have 55 girls studying in the convent.

Of these, 15 are not Catholic, but, like your daughter, of various Protestant persuasions.

These girls are completely free to pursue their own religious faith and no attempt is ever made to convert them to ours.

I assure you, they emerge quite as good Protestants as when they entered.

You will forgive my perhaps somewhat exaggerated anxiety.

For an American, freedom of religious conscience is one of our great principles.

I believe, monsieur, you have to fulfill the part of both father and mother to your daughter?

My wife died three years ago.

Well, Patsy, this is not any kind of parting.

James will be coming to fetch you home on Saturday afternoon and every Saturday after that.

If only Polly and Lucy were with me.

One day soon both your sisters will join us here, and our little family will be reunited.

I promise you.

You know that I live only for that day.

And I live only for Saturday.

There's something in my eye.



Just the right amount of nutmeg. The sauce is well-seasoned.

It could be reduced more for finicky palates...

Get the glasses!

This dish could be served at the best French tables!

Come have a drink with us at the tavern tonight.

Pas de monnaie. No money.

People here get paid for working!

Ask the master for wages! You should be paid like us.

Put more wood on.

Master. You see how this works, James?

As the wheel turns, the distance is recorded on this meter.

Master. What is it, James?

I was wanting to say...

This should be most helpful in recording accurate boundaries.

Within certain limits. I was wanting to say...

Wanting to say what, James?

I like finished sentences.

Yes, master, and what it is I was wanting to finish is...

I wants to get paid.

Master, I want some money.

In our present circumstances, your request is not unreasonable.

I shall tell Monsieur Petit that on the first of each month you are to receive 24 francs by the way of salary.

You realize that this arrangement holds good only in Paris, and that at Monticello we shall revert to our own system.

Yes, master. Thank you.

I sure enough realize 24 francs. You understand. James?

Yes, sir. Very well.

You mock our poor Queen.


Out of misguided modesty she avoids drawn-out, scandalous affairs...

By saying "yes" at once!

What would you do if your husband were sluggish and impotent to boot?

I'd jump in his brother's bed!

Leaving aside the tapir, we still have among us the moose.

Nous avons tout de méme l'élan.

L'élan? L'élan. The moose.

The American moose stands so tall that a reindeer can walk with ease under its belly.

I'd like to see that!

And so you shall, Monsieur de Buffon.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to a moose.



Down with Calonne!

No more foreign adventures!

The fan.

Vous connaissez Adrienne. Je suis ravie. Vraiment.

Cher monsieur. Bonsoir.


What an adventure, my dear. We're lucky to be here at all.

They lit an enormous bonfire and they're throwing on all they can lay their hands on.

I was certain they were going to drag us out of our coach and throw us on top too.

I told them I was quite prepared to sacrifice Maria, of course.

I said "Take her. She's much more inflammable than I am."

Mr. Cosway. You are. You know you are.

Now, let me introduce you to Mr. Thomas Jefferson and his daughter, Patsy.

Mrs. and Mr. Richard Cosway, one of the greatest English painters of the day.

What am I saying? The greatest English painter.

Vous exagérez. My dear Lafayette. Comme toujours.

So I said to the coachman "Who is this they're burning?"

"The biggest rascal on earth," he said, "and burning's too good for him."

Calonne? Was that his name? Minister of Finance.

I should not like to fall into the hands of your Paris mob.

People of Paris need only one little spark and boom! They explode.

The tables are laid and waiting!

Sit wherever you like.

We can't eat now! We want to perform first.

Come, friends. We've rehearsed for hours!

You'll be even more entertaining after dinner.


Au revoir. My dear.

I will rejoin you afterwards.

Your secretary appears to admire the duchess. We should be happy for her.

She is married to her uncle, who is 40 years older than she.

Is your daughter here to learn French manners and morals?

Manners to some extent, but when it comes to morals, we should keep to our own.

Why? Are yours better than ours? They are better for us.

That is. For us Americans.

And are they difficult to learn? Certainly not difficult to unlearn.

Pourquoi pas?

Les plus forts Ont fait la loi.

Les plus forts Ont fait la loi.

Les plus forts Ont fait la loi.

Tell me about America.

Madam, the subject is as large as the land itself.

England is so small.

Even the sky is small.

In Italy. It is a vast cerulean blue. It is not so much sky as heaven.

You are Italian?

Mr. Jefferson! Mr. Jefferson. Can you tell me?

Is it true what my young friends are telling me, that the revolt of our American colonies was really against trade restrictions?

All you wanted, you Americans, was the liberty to drink French wine.

Instead of English beer, one might say that exchange alone was worth our trouble.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,"

"that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights."

Tous Les hommes naissent-ils vraiment égaux. Mr. Jefferson?

Are all men created equal. Mr. Jefferson?

Ou serait-il plus légitime de dire "Tous Les blancs naissent-ils égaux'?

Or should this read, "All white men are created equal"?

We allowed for certain differences that are not caused by the laws of men but by those of nature.

And though the Negro may not be inferior, his status in no way alters the wrongness of slavery.

It is evil.

Yet your first draft, I believe, contained a clause on the abolition of slavery.

I considered it essential, but Congress struck it out of the final Declaration as being too particular.

La question de l'esclavage reste donc ouvette et non résolue Chez vous.

So the question remains open with you, and unsolved.

Votre revolution. Mr. Jefferson. Nous apparait comme incomplete.

Your revolution, Mr. Jefferson, appears to be incomplete.

Why did you omit the notion of property as one of those rights?

Well, while I hold the right of the individual to possess property as basic, I consider it as a means to human happiness... but not as an end in itself.

It is Madame Cosway.

Mormora il fiumicello.

J Per la fiorita riva sussurra il venticello tra I rami.

E l'uno e l'altro a sospirar m'invita.

Piangendo. Il rosignolo.

Perché mi chiami a pianger solo?

E. O solitario amico. Elle est exquise.

Perché. Compagna.

A suoi dolor mi brami?

It is only Monsieur d'Hancarville declaring that he loves me.

He thinks I don't take him seriously. But how can I?

A man of society has to be in love, preferably with a married woman.

And Monsieur d'Hancarville has done me the honor of choosing me.

Monsieur d'Hancarville!

Oh, do go. My dear, and see if we are wanted.

Please, do go.

Are you always cruel to those who love you?

It's just a game we both play.

That's how it is here.

People play at love. It's not serious.

It is different in Italy. There, we kill for it.

Well, that is going too far.

Why? How far do you go in America?

Oh, in America. In America we stay at home and are happy and contented with the wives we have chosen.

Ah. If you can choose. And are you happy and contented?

Oh, forgive me.

I have been told that your wife died in giving birth to your son.

My daughter, Lucy.

And the child? The child survived.

So you have two daughters? I have three daughters living.

We lost our first child when she was 18 months old.

Do you have no son?

He did not survive beyond 17 days.

The perfect place for it. Come on.

Quick, if we're going to play this game.

Heads and Hearts. Now, let's divide up a little bit.

Hearts should be on this side. That's right. So you have to stay there, Mr. Short.

Heads on this side. Monsieur d'Hancarville.

Mr. Jefferson, I think you belong over there with the Heads.

And that's right. Maria. Definitely with the Hearts.

I know to my cost that she has no heart.

And I, to mine, that she has no head.

You would know too if you had to pay her bills as I do.

So I shall start. For the head, friendship is but another word for an alliance with the misfortunes of others.

Our own share of miseries is sufficient. Why take on those of another?

Quand Le malheur nous arrache des larmes.

N'est-il pas bon d'avoir un ami pour essuyer nos pleurs?

When sorrow makes us weep, how sweet it is to have a friend to wipe away our tears.

With such a comfort, our very grief may turn to joy.

Come, come, Mr. Short. Take a man's part and speak up for the head.

Well, sir, when my heart speaks, the rest of me must needs be silent.

What rubbish!

Nothing is in our power except intellectual pleasure.

In contemplating truth and nature, matter and motion, we ride, serene and sublime above the concerns of this mortal world.

Listen to me! All the frigid speculations of the head are not worth one generous spasm of the heart.

The best way of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves and to suffice for our own happiness.

Nobody cares for him who cares for nobody.

A wise man will only depend on himself.

It's not your turn, madam, nor is it your turn, sir.

I believe it's the Heads' turn. It's the Heads' turn.

He's lost his head, and she's lost her heart.

Yes, you, Mrs. Cosway, must speak only from your tender heart. Now, answer me.

Is it not in the company of a friend that nature wears her liveliest hue?

Whence did she borrow it? From our charming companion.

Speak only from your head. Mr. Jefferson.

Our heart is pleased because she is pleased.

No one is pleased at all. You've ruined the game and lost everything.

Monsieur. Monsieur. Assez. Assez.


This place makes me shudder.

Ill-formed, overloaded monstrosities.

When I was 17, I wanted to take my vows, as a nun.

I see you're amused.

This is only because you are the opposite of everything gloomy and ascetic.

To me you appear all clarity and light.

Of this world, not the next.

It's true. I was born in the sun and I can't live without it.

But when my father died, we had to leave Florence and go to London.

We were poor, but I had a little talent for painting and ambition to become an artist.

But instead...

You were married.

Mr. Cosway encourages me to paint, but not to exhibit my work.

I tell you freely about myself and my life, but about yourself you keep everything hidden and closed.

When my wife died, I destroyed every letter that had ever passed between us.

I wanted no one to find the least trace of our happiness.

It was hers and mine.

And then only mine.

To be shared with no one.

Miss Jefferson, please sit still.

Enough now. It looks fine as it is.

I've been sitting here for hours!

Stay calma.

This is unbearable!

Voila. Vas-y. Doucement. Doticement. Voila. Voila.

Cara. I see Signor Leonardo's been with you.

Let me look.

I would be proud, Mr. Jefferson, to have such a pretty daughter.

Mrs. Cosway plays well.

On Sunday last. I went as a private citizen. And accompanied by my daughter.

To the Palace of Versailles.

(usher} Le roil.

We joined the crowd admitted according to some ancient custom to view the king and queen on their way to Mass.

I meant to impress upon my daughter the vainglory of these spectacles.

May we Americans never emulate them.

Nor burden our taxpayers with such useless splendors.

Quelle joie de vous avoir parmi nous.

The royal procession showed an unexpected informality and animation of spirits.

It is said that this is due to Marie Antoinette.

Who tries to make such occasions agreeable to her husband.

Who is often awkward and unsociable.

Mademoiselle, no other American ambassador gave us the pleasure of meeting his family.

You should have come earlier! What is your name?

Martha Jefferson. Monsieur L'Ambassadeur.


There's nothing to fear, Patsy. She was only asking your name, and quite charmingly.

Daily life at court is still ruled by an etiquette so rigid that the most private pursuits of the king and queen are converted into public ceremony.

It is like watching actors. Fantastically painted. Bewigged and bejeweled.

Disporting themselves on a stage.

The leading actress. Though never a popular one. Is the queen.

Whose extravagance is blamed for the desperate financial situation of France.

But the king loves her very much. And she rules him completely.

As a foreigner and Austrian. She feels lonely and isolated at the French court.

And has surrounded herself with her own little band of favorites.

They love to play at being simple shepherdesses.

A game that is said to cost the exchequer one million livres a year.

But the friendship of the shepherdesses is based on their ferocious greed.

The queen's favorites take advantage of her lonely craving for affection.

Threatening to leave her Whenever she fails to accede to their insatiable demands.

Bon. D'accord. Oh. Allez.

Allons-y. la la. La la la. La. La.

The French royal family are the butt of salacious skits and slanders unimaginable in any other Christian kingdom.

The queen is depicted with the appetites of a Messalina or a Sappho.

Or engaged in incestuous monstrosities with the Count d'Artois.

The king's debauched brother.

"The Surrender at Yorktown."

Well done, Trumbull. It's very lifelike!

And that is you, sir, here, on the left of my little sketch. And hard to see.

I assure you that in the finished painting, no one will ask, "Where is General Lafayette?"

And here is Lord Cornwallis, surrendering.

Ah. No, a mistake, sir. It was not Cornwallis.

Milord feigned sickness to escape sharing his men's humiliation.

Then I'm very sorry. I must have been misinformed in London.

Probably on purpose.

You really rubbed their noses in it, playing Yankee Doodle!

Yankee Doodle went to town riding on a pony I was shaking like a leaf with the malaria I'd caught in your confounded swamps.

And this is Monsieur... Ah. De Viromesnil.

Is that you, Viromésnil?

I didn't recognize you with two legs on!

Inform Mr. Jefferson.

We're asking no more than our due.

The eye I've given them deserves a pension.

My dear friend. My dearest friend and comrade, we are all here comrades, and so perhaps it is not too greatly indelicate to mention what weighs on these gentlemen.

Although a considerable amount is due for their services rendered in the American war, the States have not yet paid their debts to them.

Promises must be kept.

I'd never have thought we'd have to beg!

Not even the interest.

Sir, we put our lives in danger.

We sacrificed arms and legs...

We offered them willingly for your cause!

Many of these gallant officers have lost limbs, or have been disabled in other ways,

fighting for our cause.

Yet all requests for moneys justly due to them have been ignored.

The fact is, Mr. Short, there is no money. Our Congress is insolvent.

I know that your own salary hasn't been paid yet.

Let alone my salary.

I haven't been reimbursed for the outlay I've made on my domestic establishment.

Well, that is a personal matter.

But all this financial business presses on my mind like a mountain.

This is to inform the Congress that our crushing debts compel me forthwith to journey to The Hague.

I intend to appeal to some private Dutch bankers.

Who are justly famous for their financial wizardry.

These shrewd moneymen have devised a loan to cover our interest on another loan.

A bit of juggling to restore our credit and honor our debt to those gallant French officers.

Bouge pas.

Mr. Short. Mrs. Cosway.

It was unexpected and most urgent. Evidently.

He was promised for the féte on Friday.

I trust we will have the honor of your presence, Mr. Short.

You keep faith with your friends, I hope. Alas, madam, I leave for Rome tomorrow.

Also on urgent business.


I've heard that you Americans are always on urgent business.

Your friends miss you. And none more than myself.

And Mr. Cosway. Who. However. Has much to fill his time within this place.

I pass my more solitary hours in great hopes of a continuance of our happy days together.

I imagine I see you smiling down at me once more.

Absence from a friend grown dear...

is harder than I'd imagined.

My dear Mrs. Cosway...

Nor had I imagined how dear this friend had grown to me.

My dear friend...

How close to my heart.

My dear. Dear friend.

Absence from a friend grown dear is harder than I imagined.

I observe the hog of this land. Of which the celebrated ham is made.

Is tall, gaunt and with heavy lop ears.

People here pride themselves on their unique smokehouses that have no chimney.

But I had the pleasure of informing them that in Virginia we use the same method of smoking our bacon.

Accipe. Carissima soror. Lumen Christi.

Accipe. Carissima soror. Lumen Christi.

When they rise, it's called the resurrection after having been dead to the world.

But why are you crying?

It's with joy.


Wait, dear.

I wanted to see you.

And I hoped you might want to see me.

You must miss your father so very much in his absence.

He'll be back soon. Oh? When? Have you had word?

I had hoped to know you better. And even, if you will let me, to be your friend.

Thank you, madam.

You see, I know how it is to be a foreigner in a foreign country.

I was born in that condition. For in Italy I am English and in England I'm Italian.

But I'm American everywhere.

Yes. There you are like your father.

Wherever he is. He is what he is.

There is another reason why I feel such a sympathy for you and your family.

Because you have suffered tragedy in the loss of your mother and so many little brothers and sisters.

My childhood was also made tragic for my poor parents, and in a most horrible and unnatural way.

May I tell you? May I tell you my story?

I had three little sisters and a brother, all of whom died very suddenly.

And only I and one little brother were left.

One day, someone overheard my Italian nurse singing to me:

"I have sent four to heaven before you,"

"and now I will send you too, and save your eternal soul."

It was she who had poisoned the little babies, for what. In her madness, she thought was their salvation.

Imagine the state of mind and heart of my poor parents.

You will understand better than anyone that I have to stay with Papa always, that he needs me.

He will never marry again, because that is what he vowed to Mama on her deathbed.

Look! Look who it is.

We are so glad to see you, Mr. Jefferson. We're enchanted to see you.

We thought you'd completely forgotten us.

I arrived from my travels only one hour ago.

Come on up. Come on, come on.

What a dwarf! Is it drafty up there?

Ah. Mr. Jefferson.

You're so attached to the opera that you would not waste a moment to come here.

Say rather so attached to my friends, whom I hoped to find here.

Well, sir, you have found us.

But it is by no means certain that my wife is any longer your friend.

See how angry your neglect has made her.

Why would I be angry?

Alas, my duties were official, or I would have returned weeks ago.

Women will never believe any business could take precedence over our business with them.

Mr. Jefferson. Take your bow.

Ah, Mademoiselle Contat!

Such large hats are forbidden in the theater now!

Throw me in the Bastille then, with the thieves, the forgers and the child molesters!

Meanwhile, come join us as we yawn through the ballets.

Well, Mr. Jefferson, I shall leave you to make your peace as best you can.

Come, Monsieur d'Hancarville. Be at least as tactful as her husband.

I came back as soon as I could.

I was restless for Paris.

I can't imagine you restless, or even thinking of anyone or anything except - what do you call it? - the business at hand.

I thought of you constantly. I wrote you constantly.

Yes, about smoked bacon and hogs.

What an extraordinary person you are.

I hoped to interest you in what interested me.

I missed you. I missed you immensely.

Bravo! Bravo!

I kept having a debate between my head and my heart.

Which, in your case, the head always wins.

Not this time. My poor head was simply whirled around by my unruly heart.

Oh, your heart.

It kept telling me "I love the lady", and will continue to love her forever."

"If she were on one side of the globe and I on the other, I would pierce through the whole mass of the world to reach her."


Dardanus! Bring Dardanus to me!

I want to kiss him! I want to go up to Heaven with him!

Get him a new wig!

And new legs, too!


They seem to have survived the ordeal.

Don't you wish it were possible to fly off to America?

Yes, if I could take you with me.

It is not impossible. We are not on the other side of the moon.

But what are you saying? I'm saying "Come to America."

Come to Monticello.

Leave everything? Leave everything here? Leave my husband?

I have thought of it sometimes.

Mr. Cosway and I have even spoken of it.

We are good friends, although he does not... he cannot love me the way a man loves a woman.

You must have guessed that.

What I guessed from the beginning was that you needed me as I need you.

Within a year or two, my government will recall me from my assignment here, and I shall go home for good.

Which is what you want more than anything in the world.

I can't deny that all my wishes end where I hope my days will end, at Monticello.

But to leave you...

To leave you behind, with all the ocean between us, and no... no hope of ever seeing you again.

But even if I had no vows to break, what about yours?

You vowed to your wife...

You and I are alive, and the earth belongs to us, to the living.

Would you dare?

Would you?

Yes. Yes.

For you... for you I would dare anything.

- Would fly in the balloon. Oh, no. No.

It might carry you too far away from me.

Yet I would ford a flood. No, that's too dangerous.

Then I would leap over these logs.


Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson.

What have you done? What have you done?

Pardon. Monsieur.

But he's going the wrong way for Mr. Jefferson's house.

Yes, I told him to drive straight to the ball.

It is fashionable to be late to a certain degree, but beyond that limit it is uncouth.

Not to visit a sick friend for fear of being late for a ball.

Not a ball, madam. It is the ball.

Everyone will be there. Le tout Paris. Except, of course, Mr. Jefferson.

Poor Mr. Jefferson. We must send him some calf's-foot jelly.

Whatever it is one sends to invalids who have hurt their wrist.

Oh, forgive me, madam, I forgot to tell you.

I have secured passage for the packet on Thursday.

I have, thank heaven, finished recording the entire Orléans family for posterity and we are now free to go home.

Dear, dull London. I've grown weary of Paris, have not you?

There are many amusements, it's true, but some of them are of the wrong kind.

I write with pain and must be short.

Failing a private messenger. I send this letter whatever way I can.

I fear it may be opened at the post office and my words. Meant only for you.

Read by spies and strangers.

When you come next. I shall never let you part from me again.

But are you coming to Paris? I dread the answer may be no.

And that all this time my fond heart has been deceiving me.

Look into my eyes.


A power now pervades you.

My wand... and my fingertips... will do the rest.

Nature touches upon the Divine.

The Divine flows...

I have made myself the medium between this force and you.

From me into you.


Receive from my eyes this heavenly current which lessens pain and assuages souls tormented by every malady.

I tingle all over.

I am reborn. My body is purified.

I'm overwhelmed! My senses are abandoning me!

My body throbs!

Will you excuse me?


Calm down. Dear friend. You must give it a chance. It can cure you.

This is just trash and tricks for the weak mind.

The method is completely scientific.

I myself have been cured of all sorts of ailments through animal magnetism.

Du pain! Du pain!

Du pain!

The high price of bread in France is an old grievance.

But now. The many deprivations coming all together.

Whether these be bread or fuel and warm clothes for the dreadful winter.

Are judged by the populace to be insupportable.

Once the French people get started, they don't go to it with gloves on.

Their wrath has found an object in the person of the queen.

Who devotes herself to her amusements.

Indulging in every current fancy and delusion.

She welcomes fashionable charlatans. Like the dangerous Dr. Mesmer.

And allows them intimacies such as freedom to touch the royal person that not so long ago would have condemned them to the rack.

It's very amusing.

Please, do sit down. You'll see.

While outside the people starve and freeze to death.

The queen and her ladies are cozy in warm chambers scented by blooms from the royal hothouse.

And dressed as if it were a different season.

Or as if they lived in a different climate from the rest of France.

Is it any wonder that Marie Antoinette is hated by the people?

What a perfect patient.

The doors to healing are now open.

Here you are, Monsieur. Don't be shy. Come to Mother.

Go on, Dr. Mesmer.

Watch this. It's a fascinating scientific experiment.

Look at the Duchess. Isn't she funny?

Oh. Majesté.

How was your trip?

Yet their sentiments have not changed toward the little dauphin.

Who is still loved. As is the king himself.

Despite the iniquities he has come to represent.

The Marquis de Lafayette and other liberal aristocrats are eager to break down the monstrous privilege both of their own quarter and of the clergy.

They propose to revive a long-dormant assembly called the States General.

Which has not convened since 1614.

In this. The common people will have their own elected deputies.

To be called the Third Estate.

But the king. Who has the most to lose. Says:

"What does it matter if I give up some of my own authority."

"As long as my people are happy?"

London is so melancholy.

There is something in this air Which always makes me sad.

How I long for blue skies and for church bells.

And for your presence.

What am I without seeing or hearing from you?

Write to me. Write to me.

I live only in your letters. And in memories of our "jours hetreux," our happy days together.

It is impossible to paint the anguish of my heart.

Confined a week to her bed. With the whooping cough.

Your dear angel. Lucy. Was thrown into convulsion and then expired.

She retained her senses perfectly.

Called me a few moments before she died. And asked distinctly for water.

You shall always, always, above everyone, be first in my life.

I vow to you now, as you vowed to Mama.

No one shall ever come between us.

I shall write to your Aunt Elizabeth that Polly must come to France on the next available ship before winter sets in.

Her nurse may accompany her.

I will be her nurse and her mother and her sister and her everything and your everything, dearest Papa.

Oh. Your poor wrist.

The surgeon has made a bad thing of setting it.

I may have to carry it as a reminder of foolishness the rest of my life.

Polly, dearest.

You may imagine. My dear Mrs. Eppes.

How greatly we desire to have Polly with us.

And never to be parted from her again.

The voyage and the change of domicile would be greatly eased for her by the company of any one servant to whom she is particularly attached.

I's goin' with you. We two, we be laughing and jokin' each other all the way.

We's gonna ride on a big old ship.

Oh, and we be rockin' on the water.

Ain't that gay, Polly? Huh?

Ain't that gay?

My grandmother, Betty Hemings, was the daughter of a full-blooded African slave woman and an English sea captain, name of Hemings.

She was the property of Mr. John Wayles.

Mr. Jefferson, having married Mr. Wayles' daughter, my grandmother and all of her kin came to live at Monticello.

That is. Thomas Jefferson inherited your family from his wife's father, John Wayles.

Yes, sir. Mr. Wayles was the father of Mrs. Thomas Jefferson.

He was also the father of my mother, Sally Hemings, and her brother, James Hemings, and four other offspring he had with my grandmother, who he took as concubine.

So Mrs. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings... were half-sisters.

Ain't no use in asking who is sister with who and who the father and who the brother.

They don't speak of it now and they didn't speak of it then.

No matter whose blood flows in your veins, you either master or you slave.

You're white or you're black. There no in-between.

Occupez-vous des bagages.

Welcome, Miss Polly.

Here she is!


Hello, Sally.

What is it? Have you forgotten your own sister, Patsy, and your papa?

We missed you. You let her be away from us too long.

Help me up with her. Your wrist.

It'll be all right.

Oh, we missed you.


Welcome to France, Mademoiselle Jefferson.

To the land of liberty and equality - or soon it will be.

Polly, come on inside. It's all right.

Come with Papa. Sally!

So. Granny's gone?


She was sick a while.

You see her there, layin' in bed, and she couldn't take nothin' to eat.

Little Isaac, he tried givin' her a piece o' his crust.

But she said "Uh-uh. Granny don't want bread no more."

They done bury her over by Weaver's Cottage.

Sit down, Mademoiselle.

He said "Sit."


This is my sister.


Get to work! Let's celebrate Sally's arrival.

Welcome. You have a beautiful sister.

Eh bien. Nous allons examiner Ce poignet.

Jespére qu'il n'est pas trop douloureuix.

It's still very swollen.

This will take longer to heal than you thought.

You wants a poultice on that, master.

With hot ashes and mustard.

My old nurse at Tuckahoe had all kinds of roots and herbs for the mumps and the whooping cough and every sort of ache and pain.

And no medicine ever suited me as well or tasted better.

I have some letters for you, sir.

Letters from a lady.

And how is the lady? She sends her regards.

Thank you.

My French harpsichord is easier.

Did you receive my last two letters?

What does this silence mean. Inconstant friend?

I live in misery waiting for a letter from you.

Unable to bear this anxiety. I have taken a passage for Calais on Thursday next.

I am in a million fears about you.

I long to be with you.

Polly. Lucy. Lucy.

What if little Lucy wasn't dead, but was sittin' up in her coffin in the cold, wet ground?

Patsy. Hush.

You hush.

Our little Lucy is an angel now, in heaven with Mama.

Where have you been?

This is for master's poor hand.

When Miss Polly is home from the convent, you were to sleep with her, I told you.

Go on.


Try some of this.

It might do you some good.

Did Sally make it?

Well, I'll try anything.

Walk like ladies.

The cake's all dough.

You needn't mind the weather.

If the wind don't blow.

While it is true that under French law slavery is considered illegal, I don't think that American citizens need to be too concerned.

My advice to you would be to keep your boy here and say nothing about him.

Where are you from? Byrd's Nest, Gooseland County.

Mr. James Byrd is my master.

Would you be knowin' Suzie Melton, what was cook there one time?

Married Israel Jefferson of Monticello? She be my mother's own sister.

Lordy. Ain't it a small world to turn around in?

What sort of place would that be, Byrd's Nest?

Oh, we's getting on most fine. Plenty to eat.

New clothes for the summer and winter.

Saturday night, master don't care how much we dance and carry on so long we don't do it on a Sunday.

Mm-mm, some fares good, some fares common.

Oh, he fare pretty good. Yes, sir.

Master's so fond of me, I's like his own child almost.

Company coming. What's your name?

Horatius. Horatius Byrd. My own master's name.

Afternoon, Miss Cosway. James.


What a pretty girl that was. That's Sally. She my baby sister.


James? She come to see old master?

Mm-hm. That Miss Cosway.

She go away and now she back.

If slavery's illegal in France, the boy could claim he was free and refuse to go back home with us.

Master, Miss Cosway is waiting for you in the music room.

Inform the lady I'll be with her presently.

Strictly speaking, the answer to your question is "yes", but I don't think your boy would know enough to claim that right.

Didn't you yourself, Mr. Jefferson. Bring over two of your servants from Virginia?

A male and a female, I believe.

You see, I've come back.

Although with very little encouragement. Why did you not write?

I had always to wait for a suitable messenger.

How could I run the risk of exposing my tender sentiments to the officials?

Ah. Excuses, vain excuses.

Mr. Trumbull could have brought letters, but you entrusted none even to him.

- Did you have nothing then to say to me? I had too much to say.

And have you come back only to load me with reproaches?

And how is your poor wrist? It is better, no thanks to the French surgeons. But I've been trying out some American witchcraft.

Oh, I hope it works, so that soon you can play your violin for me again.

Our beautiful duets, our happy day. Our jour heureux.

Jour heureux.

Espoir enchanteur.

Prix charmant d'un amour Si tendre.

Je vais l'avoir. Je vais l'entendre

I'm alone here. Mr. Cosway's in London.

He wished me to... to find my own way.

Did you lose it?

Yes, but the moment I saw you I found it again.

Show us your calicos.

The ones up there.

Trust me. I know what girls like better than you.

But American girls? American girls?

And how, pray. Are your American girls so different to the rest of the world?

Their expectations are different.

Oh, you mean they expect to make corn puddings and to knit woolen stockings for their lord and master?

I could think of worse occupations for a woman.

What a tyrant you'd be.

The turquoise. Farther down.

- Oui. Celui-la. Bleu vert.

Bleu vert.

Pardon. Monsieur. Vous pourriez venir un moment?


Are you sure? I'm afraid it won't suit Patsy.

It's not for Patsy. Oh, Polly would like it even less.

It's for a servant girl who needs to be ouffitted.

The little Negro nurse. She's very pretty.

How old is she?

I'm not sure. I inherited her.

You inherited her? Yes.

Yes, as a responsibility.

We are responsible for these people as members of our most intimate family.

They're... It's impossible to explain to a foreigner.

Even an American not born in our southern states is unable to understand the special relationship we have with our Negroes.

Ten meters.

Oh. No. Eight will be enough. It's a simple dress. Huit metres. Je vous prie.

It's only an effigy. They are burning an effigy of Brienne, the finance minister.

Last time they were burning another finance minister.

That was Monsieur de Calonne. He is now an exile in England.

The people are making their voice heard.

There's nothing to fear in the triumph of the people.

Not even you are safe any more.

Come on. Come away. All they want is their liberty.

Their right to freedom.

I've seen such horrible, horrible sights in the streets.

It makes me fear that men are not good, not kind by nature, but cruel.

No, no.

They've been warped by generations of tyranny, but they are naturally good.

If I were not sure of that, sure of the goodness inherent in the natural man, I would no longer want to be alive.

Loosen up here a bit. You'll look more graceful.

Let me show you what I've planned for the ribbons.

I told you I don't want any trimmings!



Sally, have you gone deaf?

Where did you get that? Old master done gimme the cloth to sew.

I've been calling and calling you. Come along.

He's gotta pay you for that.

You's out of your head, James.

Folks get wages for their work, that's the law of this land.

But we is slaves.

Yeah, you's a slave all right, right down to the bottom of your soul.

Yeah, well, I sooner be a slave to old master than to that old liquor.

You mind yourself or you'll end up just like Bob Tuffle.

You think on that and what happened to he on account of the way he was drinkin' just like you is drinkin'.

"If that nigger don't walk the chalk, y'all put him on the block and sell him!"

Yeah, but ain't nobody won't buy a drinking nigger. He ain't no use for work.

What's I want with all that money, huh? I gets me my something to eat.

I gets me my new clothes.

You tell him... you tell him right this minute: 20 francs a month for your wages.

You is hurtin' my arm.

I'll hurt you so you knows if you don't tell him right now.

- I just talkin' to Sally, master. You are?

What are you talkin' about?

Just talkin', master.

It's a mighty pretty dress, Sally.

Good night, James.

Come in, Sally.

You did it? What are you doin'?

You'd better get back in there...

What are you doing there, Sally?

What's the matter?

Master, I scared.

Of what?

Ghosts. Ghosts?


Have you ever seen one?

Scare me so bad, my hair ris up till I couldn't get my hat back on my head.

Well, you won't see any here because they're all left behind in Virginia.

Uh-uh. They come with us, master. What? They sailed with you on the ship?

I thought ghosts couldn't cross water.

See, they don't need no ship, no water, they just... goes on through the air.

Same as smoke.

I done seen Molly. She done drown herself in the millpond.

She's here with us?

Well, doesn't that make you feel nice and at home to have Molly come all the way to Paris from the bottom of our old millpond?

You know, when they bring Molly up, there weren't nothin' left to bury, she was ate up so bad.

All her eyes was gone, and half her face, her legs and all.

And there weren't a morsel of brain left in her skull, what was all swarming with them water bugs.

Good night, Sally.

And thank you for giving me a pleasant vision to lull me to sleep.

Good night.

Master? There's this old fly sittin' on your face.

Where? I don't see it. Is it troublin' you?

I just stays here and fan him right off you.

I do beg your pardon, Mr. Ambassador.

The King began dozing off five minutes after the Assembly opened.

How could he have done otherwise?

The Finance Minister's speech was a perfect sleeping potion!

And our poor Queen, so sad and exasperated!

Your immediate task now is practical.

Your three separate orders of nobles, clergy and commons must be combined into one single vote. But that is our resolve.

We shall vote not by rank, but with the commons.

Sir, I once knew a young man who, having visited countries where liberty and equality were the rule, decided to import those commodities into his own country.

Do you know what happened to him?

Well, sir, he was hanged.

Don't laugh.

My invention is the most humane form of execution ever conceived.

Mr. Gullotin, for whom did you invent your charming machine?

Is it only for us?

Can commoners also take advantage of so noble a form of execution?


No more wretches swaying from gallows or pulled apart by horses!

No more rascally hangings? No more lowlife drawings and quarterings?

Oh, what a terrible shame.


Whatever these learned French surgeons may say, our old American remedies are still the best.

Now, Sally, since the cure was due to your ministrations, it's only right that the results should be to your benefit.

Yes, master?

To Sally Hemings, 24 francs.

You shall receive the same amount every month.

Of course, it's yours to do with as you please, but I would advise you not to give it to James, or he will be spending it in ways that won't do him any good.

He young and wild.

And you're so old and sage?

Would you want me to keep it for you?


This is your money.

It'll be right here in the corner.

You'll be rich soon, and then what will you do with all your wealth?

I takes it home to Virginia.

Don't you want to spend it on pretty things here in Paris?

They has no pretty things like we has in Virginia.

Well, what about this?

Yeah. But I like the bright colors best.

Pink I likes. And yellow.


Now, I wonder... what you will think of this?

Of course, you may not care for it at all, in which case I might as well give it away to some other girl...

Uh-uh. What is it?

You show me. Show me what it is.

It's that one.

It's not that one.

It's this one.

Is that for me? Mm-hm.

That's plum pretty.


Haven't you finished with Patsy yet? You're so slow, Sally.

What will I say to Soeur Thérése if we're late again?

You tell her that you only got one girl, and she's so unlucky to be born with only two hands.

You make me so cross.

You make me so cross.

That's to teach you respect for your mistress.

You go and lay out Polly's things.

"He spread her legs as widely as possible and knelt down to enjoy her charms."

Is that how we excite men?

"Toinette abandoned herself to her pleasure."

I do think in lovemaking some perversity is no bad thing.

"As she undressed..."

Jeffy? Are you asleep?

Mother Superior says I can write to my parents.

Yes, I may enter my novitiate. Oh, Julia, you can take your vows.


Now I have only one wish left.

Oh, Jeffy. I pray for it.

For you. That God will allow you to join the true church.

(Jefferson} The jealousies of rank have brought the States General to an impasse.

The older nobles and the clergy are determined to negate any measures that would lose them the least of their privileges.

And of course. As usual. The queen is on their side.

Your credibility is at stake!

Your people respect you. Their representatives will listen.

The members of the Third Estate are waiting for your answer.

Tell them they're on the wrong track.

The King!

The order of the commons. The Third Estate. Are equally determined.

So that there is a deadlock. Which only the king can resolve.

We have listened to your requests with all the interest they deserve.

But we feel obliged to inform you that the State... is ruled by secular laws.

The King cannot allow them to be changed... or even discussed.


There's not a minute to lose! I've come from Versailles.

Our Finance Minister has been dismissed!

This will be a St Bartholomew's Day massacre for patriots!

We must choose colored cockades so we know our allies!

What color do you want? You choose!

Green, the color of hope? Or blue...

Blue, the color of American freedom and democracy?

Green! Green!

Comrades, the word is out!

Police spies and informers watch my every move.

But they won't get me, at least not alive!

Citizens, follow me!

To arms!

The spirit of liberty is cantering from one end of France to the other.

And through all ranks of society.

There are some incidents of violence. Due to the continued shortage of bread.

So that grain speculators are frequent victims.

Yet I will agree to be stoned as a false prophet if all does not end well in this country.

Hallali. Mes beaux.


Is it a revolt? No, Sire.

It is a revolution.

Liberty, blessed Liberty, Goddess of an enlightened people, Rule today in this holy place.

Through you, our temple is purified., Voila.

Liberty, because of you, Reason dispels falsehood, Error flees, Fanaticism is overcome.

Our gospel is Nature.

And we are of the cult of Virtue.

I fear it is what in England you would call rather silly, but for us it's a beautiful new thought, that the flower of the poor potato is more valuable than our finest jewelry.

Thank you, Adrienne.

This is for you.

How sweet of you.

Perhaps you don't understand the deep affinity between us and the people.

We are, all of us, commoners now.

And they are all noble.

Some of the faces I have seen in the streets of Paris did not look noble.

What I don't understand is what you are all waiting for.

Why don't you go? Get out?

Run for your lives?

It is not easy to leave everything behind.

Go to a strange country, an emigre, a refugee, without money or connections or friends.

So one persuades oneself that everything will turn out well.

On Tuesday last. A crowd of women. In a direct approach to the king and queen to help them feed their children.

Marched to Versailles and forced the royal family to return with them to Paris.

The Marquis de Lafayette as commander of the new National Guard.

Had the duty of escort.

The people hope that the presence of the king in their midst will help relieve their desperate situation.

Waving loaves in the air on spikes, they jest that surely now they will have bread.

When they had brought the baker himself. That is the King.

And the baker's wife and his little apprentice.

Vive Le roil Vive Le roi!

I came to give you this.

A memento of my small art and its great subject.

Papa has always taught us that in matters of religion, everyone must be free to follow their own conscience.

So you've not told him yet?

I shall have to soon.

I am so happy for you.

When I was your age, I, too, desired oh, so ardently - to take my vows.

But it was not to be.

You will be more fortunate than I.

But what will you do when he returns to America?

I shall stay here in the convent and take my vows.

And not see your beautiful Monticello?



I don't ever want to go back to Monticello.

Dear Patsy, it's your sweet home, and your father's most cherished place.

You don't know.


What is it, my dear child? You don't know how we live in Monticello.

Why, it is a paradise on earth.

Your father has told me so much, so much.

And he has made me love the place and... made me long to go there too.

And has he told you about our Negroes and how they live?

I'm sure he's very good to them.

He's the best master in all of Virginia.

But he is the master, and they are the servants.


And I'm certain that they hate us. Yes, I know they do.

I can see it in their faces even when they smile and say "Yes, master."

And they're always there, watching everything we do, and listening to everything we say and hating us.

And I hate them.

And yet I pity them for the misery of their lives.

And I wish from the bottom of my heart that all the Negroes could be free forever.

But they have us and we have them.

Your father has explained to me how it is in the nature of a family relationship.

And I've seen how kind he is. For instance, to the little Negro nurse, Sally.

He has bought her pretty clothes, just as he has for you.

Can't you speak to me?

Please. Tell me.

No, Mrs. Cosway, don't ask me, don't force me.

Who would force you?

Only to relieve your heart by speaking to a friend.

I can't speak, Mrs. Cosway. I can't speak because...


Because it's unspeakable.

I can't possibly guess.

It's late. Master.

Master's expecting you in the garden.

(sings quietly to herself}.

What are you doing here? Missus, you scared me out of my skin.

I's picking corn for dinner.

Old master, he's so proud of his corn, but I see his Frenchie guests - they can't abide it.

They don't even know how to eat it like it should be ate.

Why? How do you eat it?

You roast it, then you eats it on the cob.

And it's the sweetest stuff you ever eat in your life.

Except for cush-cush and ashcake.

Since you are never to be found, I have boldly come to you.

Ah, but it is you who are never to be found, except among a crowd of friends and admirers who hide you from view.

At least my view.

I've planted an American garden.

I had seeds sent from Virginia, but only our harmony corn has prospered.

Everything else has been a dismal failure.

Our watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes.

You see, it hasn't rooted.

If only I could give you a taste of our marvelous sweet potatoes.

You sound homesick. Mr. Jefferson. It is hard to leave.

I shall miss my friends, and so much else.

Who would not want to be in France at such a glorious time?

Ah, yes, the glorious revolution.

Sally Hemings!

I too, shall have to return soon.

I have overstayed both my leave from London and my welcome in Paris.

Your welcome from whom? From you, sir.

My affections have not altered.

There has been no change in the friendship that has been between us from the first moment.

You are becoming the perfect diplomat.

Courteous and amiable always, and always on your guard.

Well, I confess I fear unguarded moments.

As when you fell and hurt your wrist?

I do feel most horribly responsible for that.

As though it were I who led you into recklessness.

No, no.

It was my own middle-aged vanity that made me attempt what only a youth can do.

Master. Our corn. You must try our corn.

Yes. Pick it up and eat it with your hands.

It's like with all your Frenchie guests, master, when we cook it for 'em.

They love our corn. They loves it when you're lookin' at 'em, but when you ain't, they just spits it out.

Nonsense, Sally. That's nonsense.

I seen it with my own eyes. They just spit.

Excuse me.

What is it? What's wrong?

You told me yourself I could never hope to understand.

If I have erred in some way, if I have offended you, I beg you to be as frank with me as I've always tried to be with you.

On all subjects?

Or are there some that are best left unexplained?

Let me call on you tomorrow.

I've so missed you.

Let us resume our jours heureux. Our happy days together.


I wish we could.

Is someone leaving?

Yes, Sir. Madame Cosway.

I wish you both success and joy.

May God protect you and keep you from harm.

And without a word for those who love you?

Not even our American friend?

My dear Mrs. Cosway, this is all very hard on me.

How will I justify myself when he reproaches me for your absence?

He will be heartbroken.

I don't think we need fear for Mr. Jefferson's heart.

But he has one. Believe me, a great and tender heart.

Only he wears it under a suit of armor.

Well, then he is safe, for it will never break or hurt him very much.

We have failed you. No, not you.

You have been kindness and hospitality itself.

In France, we boast how fertile is our soil for love and lovers.

But if the soil is American, then nothing will grow but corn and - what is it? - sweet potatoes.

Come in.

You sad. Master?

You cryin'?

You want me to sing for you?

I could sing you something sad, something merry.

Let it be sad then, Sally since that's my mood.

I can't bear it. It'll make me sink into my grave with sadness.

You want me to show you how to cut the pigeon wing?

How to what?

We calls it cuttin' the pigeon wings cos you hold your neck up real stiff, just like a pigeon do, and you're there flappin' your arms, and your legs.

I show you.

Who's going to the ball?

Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee-diddle Dee-Dee-Dee-diddle.

But first a couple has to set the floor.

They comes up, bends over to each other at the waist, and the woman, she puts her hands on her hips, and the man roll his eyes all around. And he's grinning.

Gonna wear a red gown Dee-Dee-Dee-diddle.

Gonna wear a velvet coat Dee-Dee-Dee-diddle.

Goin' to the ball. Dee-Dee...

But it's better if you're on a dirt floor, cos then your feet can slap down real hard.

Or you get a glass of water... and you put it on your head, and you see how many steps you can do without spilling the water.

Goin' to the ball. Dee-Dee Goin' to the ball. Dee-Dee.

Goin' to the ball. Dee-Dee Goin' to the ball.

Let me show you how to do buck dancing.

You hold hands. You jumps up and down...

You still scared of me, Sally?

I ain't scared of you, master.

I respect your decision, monsieur, but I regret it.

We have become fond of both your daughters.

And I have reason to believe that your elder daughter is not altogether willing to depart.

But I am confident that she will be glad of it in her future years.

We have our own ways, Madame L'Abbesse.

Which we must follow if we are to be true to ourselves.

I believe freedom of worship is written into your Constitution.

Yes, madam. I am proud to say it is.

But we allow each man to choose his religion according to his own conscience.

In spite of promises made to me, my daughter was unduly influenced.

On the contrary, monsieur, your daughter, exercising the freedom on which your country prides itself, made the choice which she judged to be right.

My daughter is too young to make such a judgment.

Independence is not a toy for children to play with, but the privilege of a fully matured mind.


Not yet asleep?

It's very late. What's the time?

It's past midnight. Didn't you hear it strike?

I thought I counted eleven.

General Washington has written to ask me to return home and become his secretary of state.

You know my feelings about public office:

That I'd rather eat my soup at home with you and Polly than have all the honors and position my country can heap on me.

But, Patsy, you have to be at home, and learn what, after all, you can only learn in America - to be a woman of your own country, a lady of Virginia.

Have you so fallen in love with France?

Or is it the dislike of your own country?

Surely not.

Remember what you promised me when you were only ten years old.

You said then, in your sweet way, that you were there for me, and would do everything for me, and would forever be the lady of my household.

Who can be the mistress of Monticello but you?

Don't you want to be that?

More than anything else in the world.

If only it could be.

Monticello is yours, as I am.

Listen, dearest Patsy, and believe me, you are my true life and my true love.

And everything that is best in me belongs to you.

I need some of your money, Sal. I ain't got it.

Old master done keep it for me.

You let him keep your money? Uh-huh.

You do beat all for natural stupidness. I don't needs it.

I needs it.

Is you in trouble?

I just go tell old master that I wants my money.

And if he says "What for?"

I say that it's for me, and the little one that's coming.

Who's been at you? Is it one of them down there?

I'll kill him with my bare hands. Them Frenchies?

They as much as look at me and I bop 'em in his face.

Who is it, then? Hm?

You think you know somethin' and you don't know nothin'.

So it's him, is it?

Whole lot better if it was one of them Frenchies.

And you's scarcely 14.

I's 15 and you knows it.

I's almost 16.

You's glad.

You's glad to breed more little niggers to work in your master's fields.

It won't be no field nigger if it's his own child I's carryin'.

Oh, yeah. He let it sit in his parlor, drinkin' his port.

Like my white father and yours done for us.

Don't you shush me. You know blamed well what our white father done for us.

Give us away for her weddin' present when his white daughter, our white sister, married Mr. Jefferson - and he serve you the same when Miss Patsy get married.

You see. You and all your little half-niggers, y'all gets throwed in with the pots and pans she be takin' away from Monticello.

Or he gets married hisself, and this new Mrs. Jefferson, she come and say.

"Who are all these brat niggers runnin' around my house?"

"That don't look good. You go sell 'em someplace else."

You don't know nothin'. Old master, he never gonna marry again.

I is there when he do promise Miss Jefferson on her deathbed.

Oh. White folks' promises.

Yeah, well, they keep 'em when they make 'em to other white folk.

If the angels was to come down from heaven, then they'd cheat them the same as they do us.

It's pitiful.

Pitiful times we's in.

But you listen here.

Sal, if we stays in Paris, we's free.

Yeah. Plum free to starve to death. I can get wages any day I wants with makin' the pastries and all them things I learns.

But he learns you so you can cook good things to eat at Monticello.

It's lucky for us I got more sense in my little toe than you has in your entire body.

I misses my mammy and they all somethin' awful.

I wants to go home.

Home? Home? What home?

Your little old slave cabin where they keeps you like the animals they breeds?

God Almighty never meant for human beings to be like animals.

We has a soul, and a head, and a mind. We ain't like a dog or a horse.

Now, you listen to me. You do what I says and you and me is free.

And that little one in there - free.

Don't you want to see what it's like to own your own body?

You's crazy, James Hemings.

You's crazy.

Master, we stayin' in Paris. Sally and I are stayin'.

You consider yourself free, then, to go or stay as you please?

We is free here, master.

Ain't nobody is a slave in France.

Does your sister also wish to follow the law prevailing here rather than the American law under which she was born?

She don't understand nothing.

She do what I say.

With no regard for what I say?

She be wantin' her freedom, master, for her own self and the little one what's comin'.

So you, James, will provide for Sally and her child?

I'll be gettin' work and wages.

And remember, once I have left and you are here on your own, there's nothin' more I shall be able to do for you.

You will be livin' among strangers in a strange land of which you do not even know the language.

I know some.

More than you, master.

Yes, well, that is true.

But if, James...

James, listen to me.

If I say "Come home to Virginia and I shall give you your freedom"?

You'd give me my freedom? That is what I'm proposing.

My papers and all?

Everything that is legally required to release you from my ownership.

And her and the little one?

What do you say. Sally?

Now, think very carefully.

You and your child will be free to leave Monticello and earn your living elsewhere as a free woman.

Where's I goin'? Wherever you wish.

Where do I go?

Let me make another proposal.

While you, James, may claim your freedom whenever you wish after our return home, Sally and her child will remain at Monticello under my care, but upon my death to be given her freedom.

How will we know it'll happen like that when we get back to Monticello?

You have my word.

You wish me to swear an oath on the Bible?


Patsy, will you step inside, please?

Close the door.

Now, here's a strange to-do, Patsy.

I'm about to swear an oath that on our return to Virginia James shall have his freedom.

But should anything happen to me, Patsy, it will be you who have to fulfill that promise.

Do you understand me?

And further, there's an oath to Sally, that she, too. Upon my death. Shall be free.

Her and the little one what's comin'.

Yes, Sally and the child she's expecting.

And all other children that may be born to her in the future.

Do you bind yourself to that?

I swear by Almighty God that upon my return to the state of Virginia I shall, within a period of not more than two years, give his freedom to James Hemings.

Since, however, James was brought to Paris, at great expense to me, for the purpose of learning the art of French cookery, he shall continue to reside at Monticello, in my service, until he shall have taught the same art to such persons as I shall place under him.

Do you swear?

I swear.

I also hereby promise and declare that Sally Hemings, sister of James, shall be freed upon my death.

Likewise, all children born to her shall be freed from my ownership, or that of my heirs, upon reaching the age of 21.

Do you swear, Patsy?

I swear.