*This morning (July 3), NBC News sent out a tweet reporting that archaeologists had at last discovered the sleeping quarters of Sally Hemings, a slave who bore at least six children from former President Thomas Jefferson.
The news, however, was overshadowed by NBC News’ choice of words – referring to Hemings as Jefferson’s “mistress,” as if she had a choice.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 3, 2017
Twitter took offense.
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) July 3, 2017
Not his mistress. His slave. He owned her like property.
— Caissie St.Onge (@Caissie) July 3, 2017
She was not a “mistress”! This article is disgusting! It was RAPE! Do not try to make it seem like she wanted it, she was a SLAVE!!!
— Ester Hartless (@Button0703) July 3, 2017
We’re still calling an enslaved child rape survivor a “mistress?” Are we really doing this today, @NBCNewsPR?
— alexandra halaby (@iskandrah) July 3, 2017
Mistress? ? pic.twitter.com/uQRfNuwFSx
— Thomas Q. Jones (@ThomasJonesRB) July 3, 2017
Hemings’ newly discovered room at Monticello, which measures 14 feet, 8 inches by 13 feet, was found next to Jefferson’s bedroom.
It had been converted into a men’s bathroom in 1941.
Historians had used a description from one of Jefferson’s grandsons which said Hemings’ room was in the south wing of Monticello. Archaeologists began digging and found the original brick, hearth, fireplace and floors that date back to the early 1800s.