Jefferson in Paris

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I kept having a debate between my head and my heart.  …  My poor head was simply whirled around by my unruly 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." ~ Thomas Jefferson's character

Jefferson in Paris is a 1995 Franco-American historical drama film, previously entitled Head and Heart.  It is a semi-fictional account of Thomas Jefferson's tenure as the Ambassador of the United States to France before his Presidency and of his alleged relationship with British artist Maria Cosway and his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings.  Although Jefferson's relationship with Hemings was disputed at the time by mainstream historians, the historic consensus has shifted, following a 1998 DNA study found a match between the male lines of Jefferson and Hemings descendants, to acknowledging that Jefferson likely had a nearly 40-year liaison with Hemings and was the father of all her children, four of whom survived and were freed.

Written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, directed by James Ivory.

Thomas Jefferson[edit]

Patsy Jefferson[edit]

Maria Cosway[edit]

  • [to Jefferson]  Do you have no son?

Sally Hemings[edit]

  • You roast it, then you eats it on the cob.  And it's the sweetest stuff you ever eaten in your life.
  • [to James Hemings]  Won't be no field nigger if it's his own child I's carryin'.

James Hemings[edit]

Don't you wanna see what it's like to own your own body? ~ James Hemings's character


Cook's helperVenez prendre un verre avec nous à la taverne ce soir.
James HemingsUh…pas money.  Non money.
  • Uh…no money.  Not money.
Cook's helperIci, les gens sont payés pour travailler!
CookDemandez le maître pour les salaires!
  • Ask the master for wages!
Cook's helperVous devriez être payé comme nous.
  • You should be paid like us.

James Hemings:  I was wantin' to say, Master—
Thomas jefferson:  Wanting to say what, James?  I like finished sentences.
James Hemings:  Yes, Master.  And what it is I was wantin' to finish is, I wants to get paid.  Master, I wants money.
Thomas jefferson:  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 twenty-four francs by the way of salary.  You realise that this arrangement holds good only in Paris, and that in Monticello, we shall revert to our own system.
James Hemings:  Yes, Master.  Thank you.

Maria Cosway:  Is your daughter here to learn French manners and morals?
Thomas jefferson:  Manners, to some extent, but when it comes to morals, we should keep to our own.
Maria Cosway:  Why?  Are your better than ours?
Thomas jefferson:  They are better for us, that is, for us Americans.

Maria Cosway:  Tell me about America.
Thomas jefferson:  Madame, the subject is as large as the land itself.

Marquis de Lafayette:  [reading from the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas jefferson]  "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".
French man 1Tous les hommes naissent-ils vraiment égaux, Monsieur Jefferson?
Translator:  Are all men created equal, Mister Jefferson?
French man 2Ou serait-il plus légitime de dire, « tous les blancs naissent-ils égaux »?
Translator:  Or should this read, "all white men are created equal"?
Thomas jefferson:  We allowed for certain differences that are not caused by the laws of men, but by those of nature.  And though the Negro may or may not be inferior, his status in no way alters the wrongness of slavery.  It is evil.
Marquis de Lafayette:  Yet your first draft, I believe, contained a clause on the abolition of slavery.
Thomas jefferson:  I considered it essential, but Congress struck it out of the final Declaration as being too particular.
French man 1La question de l'esclavage reste donc ouverte et non resolve, chez vous?
Translator:  So the question remains open with you and unresolved.
French man 2Votre révolution, Monsieur Jefferson, nous apparait comme incomplete.
Translator:  Your revolution, Mister Jefferson, appears to be incomplete.
Marquis de Lafayette:  Why did you omit the notion of property as one of those rights?
Thomas jefferson:  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.

Thomas jefferson:  I kept having a debate between my head and my heart.
Maria Cosway:  Which in your case the head always wins.
Thomas jefferson:  Not this time.  My poor head was simply whirled around by my unruly heart.
Maria Cosway:  Oh, by your heart!
Thomas jefferson:  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."

All they want is their liberty, their right to freedom. ~ Thomas Jefferson's character
See also: French Revolution
Thomas jefferson:  The people are making their voice heard.  There's nothing to fear in the triumph of the people.
Maria Cosway:  Not even you are safe.  Come on.  Come away!
Thomas jefferson:  All they want is their liberty, their right to freedom.
Maria Cosway:  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.
Thomas jefferson:  No.  No.  They have been warped by generations of tyranny, but they're 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.

Thomas jefferson:  You still scared of me, Sally?
Sally Hemings:  I ain't scared of you, Massa.

Thomas jefferson:  [places hand on Bible]  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.  [removed hand from Bible]  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.  [holds out Bible]  Do you swear?
James Hemings:  [places hand on Bible]  I swear.
Thomas jefferson:  [withdraws Bible from James Hemings; presumably places his own hand again upon Bible]  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 twenty-one.  Do you swear it, Patsy?
Patsy jefferson:  I swear.

About the film[edit]


At Jefferson's house, the Hôtel de Langeac[edit]

At Lafayette's[edit]

At Versailles[edit]

At the Panthémont Abbey[edit]

At Doctor Mesmer's[edit]

At the Opera[edit]

At the Palais Royal[edit]

Pike County, Ohio[edit]

External links[edit]

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