Thomas Jefferson married his third cousin, Martha Wayles when she was 24, and he was 29. Martha was already a widow, because her first husband died very young. Jefferson and his wife had six children but only two survived to adulthood. Martha herself died at age 34. According to historians, she made the future president promise he would never re-marry. He didn't, however the evidence seems clear, that Jefferson fathered many other children with a slave he inherited with many other slaves, some time after his wife died. This woman, named Sally Hemings was curiously enough, hi late wife Martha's half-sister. (source: Wikipedia)
I began above, discussing Jefferson, to illustrate how complicated it can be to approach coming to an intelligent opinion about what is right or wrong, when it involves marriage, relationships, and related family issues of public figures. Other important Americans including presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump, are known to have conducted their personal lives in ways that are considered by many, to be immoral. Other iconic leaders, including two we have studied this year, Dr. King, and Mr. Robeson had extra-marital affairs like Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton, and Trump. A long list of other politicians, celebrities, corporate and cultural leaders now stand accused of actions that range from harassment to assault, to rape. Some have admitted and apologized for their actions; many have not. Very few cases have gone to court thus far.
Among the reasons all of the above topics are challenging to discuss intelligently, is that there have been a extraordinary range of acts committed, and opinions vary as to what the proper consequences or punishments should be. I think it was surprising for many of you to learn in class, that not only had a number of presidents, but also iconic figures such as Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King, and Albert Einstein had relationships outside their marriages. For that reason I asked you while in small groups to share your feelings about this. This blog post gives you an opportunity to further discuss this subject. Please focus on how you feel about leaders who have relationships outside of their marriage. For you personally, does that mean you are inclined to not look up to that person and admire their professional/political or other accomplishments?
This post opened Thursday at about 9:30 pm, and will be open until 10 pm on Monday, March 19. This post is open to all DEARTS students.