Accuracy in Media

The CBS Sunday Morning show, resurrected a smear of George Washington on February 27, just five days after his birthday. It was a despicable way of commemorating the two hundred and sixty-eighth anniversary of the birth of the father of our country. The smear had been published in The New York Times last July. The Times devoted half a page to a story by its science editor, Nicholas Wade, to a claim made by several women that they are descendants of Washington.

CBS devoted over five minutes to airing the claims of these women that their ancestor, West Ford, was the son of George Washington and a slave named Venus, owned by Washington?s half brother, John Augustine Washington. The women say their claim is based on a story passed down through the family that George Washington was Venus?s “sleeping partner.”

There is not a shred of evidence that George Washington had any connection with Venus. Martha Washington had four children before she was widowed at an early age and married George. The fact that they had no children together is strong evidence that he was sterile.

Moreover, Augustine?s plantation was a hard two-day ride from Mount Vernon. Washington?s whereabouts during the time West Ford was conceived are known except for a period so brief that if George Washington made the journey, he would have had to leave almost as soon as he arrived. The idea that he would have made such an arduous journey just to sleep with a slave is absurd.

Venus?s son, West Ford, was of mixed blood, but it is a long leap to assume that George Washington was his father. Augustine Washington did give him special treatment, probably because either he or his son, Bushrod, had fathered West Ford. Elise Allen, the great granddaughter of West Ford told CBS that her father told her on his death bed to “tell the story” that George Washington was her great great grandfather. She gave the absurd excuse that she had kept it secret from everyone but her family because “America was in trouble with lynchings and race riots.”

She said they decided to make the story public after the story of Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, broke in November 1998. Her granddaughters decided to see if they could get a book deal. This got them the half-page story in the Times and interviews on NBC?s Today Show and MSNBC. Nicholas Wade, who wrote the story in the Times, soon after wrote another story saying that the claim that George Washington was the father of West Ford was dubious and unprovable.

CBS ignored that. It showed an official at Mount Vernon saying that Washington was probably sterile, but it did not use the evidence that Martha had four children by her first husband and none by George. Nor did it say how far Mount Vernon was from his brother?s plantation and the evidence that Washington was not there when West Ford was conceived. CBS concluded with Elise Allen?s claim that Washington?s paternity would some day be established. Our “respectable” journalists delight in airing discredited smears of America?s greatest presidents, but they refuse to report the serious crimes of Bill Clinton.




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Comments

  • to the comment poster above, you are absolutely right

  • what?

    Ozzieabroad you’re a complete moron! So if we are mostly descended from the British then it would infer that slavery was a British custom that we brought over to the colonies. Unless you would like to deny your own history and say that you guys didn’t have slaves as well. And to all you other idiots no one is denying that white slave owners slept with their slave women. It is pure conjecture to say that Washington fathered a slave child without any evidence. I am sorry but oral tradition only becomes relevant when accompanied by other supporting evidence.

  • tcement

    Yeah, right. Next thing they’ll be telling us that young Strom Thurmond fathered a daughter with the African-American maid. This would have been felony miscegenation in South Carolina. Like Strom would have broken the law–god’s or Man’s!

  • Vonetta

    Why is it that when a white person claims to be the descendant of one of our founding fathers. He’s not forced to prove a thing or even questioned about it. He’s not accused of putting a “smear” on the reputation of a great man. We merely take his word for it and applaud him on his impressive family heritage. Yet when a black person makes the same claim she is crucifide, accused of tainting the name of a God among men, and Historians will fight upon pain of death to prove she is wrong. Thats one heck of a double standard

  • History lover

    Vonetta,
    The women of Mt. Vernon probably felt that there was not enough evidence to support the oral traditions that were passed down. Every claim that is made cannot be refuted by DNA since there is a finite amount of hair that they have not to mention that is assuming that DNA can be extracted from every strand they do have. I don’t think they have given enough evidence to warrant a DNA test and they haven’t sufficiently explained how he could have come to have a child considering he was most likely sterile because of smallpox which he contracted as a young man. Also look at the time frame you want people to think that in all the years that he was married to Martha Custis that he never had a child of his own, but that one weekend with Venus and boom! A baby? Next it is not a smear to be related to a black person the smear is that they claim an affair occurred without sufficient evidence to prove it. The founding fathers have been put on a god-like pedestal and so it only makes sense that people would sometimes give them virtues that they might not have truly possessed. Also last time I checked they proved that Thomas Jefferson had a love child with a slave and no one called that a smear so it obviously has nothing to do with race. And who says white people don’t have to prove their lineage if someone said they were a direct descendant from Washington they would be under the same scrutiny because the reasons that I mentioned earlier. And as far as some things never changing I can’t think of a more ignorant statement given the PC world we live in and the fact that we have a black president today. Don’t judge all white people based on a few posts with which you don’t agree.

  • A Kenan

    I am interested in knowing the history of Blacks in early America. Is it true that the Slave Masters including some USA Presidents had sex with many of the Slaves they owned? Also what was the age of the slaves they had sex with and did they have sex with the Female and Male Slave? Because Homosexuality was not known in Africa at that time yet it has been Popular in the USA since this Country’s founding. I only ask these questions now because this was never taught in school when I attended here in the USA , I will never understand why, yet they always told us in detail and timeline of atrocities of other races and ethnic groups in other countries and We even had holidays to remember those events that took place outside of America. Yet Slavery in America was rarely discussed and the effects of it are present in society Today.

  • A.Allen

    I can believe this theory during those times a lot of our Presidents did have sex with the slaves they owned and some they didn’t own its good that hundreds of years later the truth comes out. Also I just found out that John Hanson was the 1st president of the United States not George Washington and he was Black look this up. that was never taught in the American school system. you see it always goes back to whites always wanting to be the dominant race. but what’s at the beginning will be at the end.

  • Ben

    John Hanson was not the first president of the United States I don’t have a clue where you got that, but it is a complete error. I would like to point out as others have done that George Washington was most likely sterile or in other words he couldn’t have children.

  • jessiegirl

    I can’t speak for the Women of Mt. Vernon, but understand that hair samples provide mitochondrial DNA, the which comes from the mother. So, this would not be helpful in determining paternity. I have also read that these hair samples were submitted to a lab to determine if they were indeed George Washington’s hair, but the DNA had deteriorated and provided no information.

  • sadiki

    ignorance doesn’t seem blissful for you just plain dumb…eat a rock!!!!

  • sarah godwin

    Maybe Martha could have no more children. Ever think of that? Of Course not.

  • sarah godwin

    John Hanson was not the first President. At least not a black John Hanson. I’ve seen photograps of him, but photography didn’ t exist when he was supposed to have been President. As a black person, I have to say that silliness like that obscures the truth. Jefferson, a widower, did have children with an enslaved young lady. And Washington, whose wife Martha may not have been able to have any more children, may have solved the urge to be a father by impregnating a young enslaved girl on a relative’s plantation so as to spare some of the feelings of Martha, a wealthy woman in her own right. If the allegations are true, she would not have had to look at the daily sight of her husband’s progeny from another woman.

  • sarah godwin

    Well, A Kenan, it appears that Jefferson, a widower, only had children with one enslaved woman, not ” many.” He had six children with Sally Hemings, four of whom lived to adulthood. Jefferson never had any white sons with his wife before she died. Apparently from complications of pregnancy. Jefferson had 3 mixed race sons and a daughter with Sally Hemings. They all grew to adulthood, married, and had children themselves.

    More recently, longtime Senator and Presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond was found to have impregnated his family’s black teenaged maid.The daughter of their ” union” wrote a book that was nominated for The National Book Award.

    According to scientists, the average black person in the USA is 24% white. And quite a few white people are part black.

  • sarah godwin

    Maybe it was Martha Custis who could not bear any more children. Thomas Jefferson’s wife was a wealthy widow before he married her, jusy like Martha Washington was. Jefferson had two daughters with his wife, but no sons who lived. He may have been trying to get a son when he impregnated his sickly wife for the last time against doctor’s orders. She apparently died of the complicartions. Perhaps Martha Custis was in a similar situation and couldn’t have or shouldn’t have tried to have more children. Medicine in some respects was crude back then and childbirth could be much riskier for some.

  • sarah godwin

    Having a ” relationship” with an enslaved young girl who may not have had a choice is immoral. If he Married her, that would be different. At least Jefferson and Sally Hemings were in a relationship for decades and their relationship did not start until after his wife died. Washington was still married and according to the Ford history, Washington was with Venus for only a short time.

  • sarah godwin

    Which they tried to get with DNA testing.

  • sarah godwin

    What are you babbling about. Black people in Africa had been told about Jesus Christ by some of Jesus’s disciples who traveled there to spread the Good News. And where did you get the crazy idea that African blacks back then were killing children by burning them? Are you thinking about Europeans burning innocent women at the stake ad “witches?”

    And African people wore certain kinds of clothes or very little, depending on the weather that day, just like people in other parts of the world do.

    Btw, the Africans of Sierra Leone were so skilled at agriculture that some of the white Americans who enslaved them became some of the wealthiest men in America. The Africans’ skill at rice growing was legendary.

  • sarah godwin

    Yoou’re joking, right. Bill Clinton, sadly, just joined the club.

  • sarah godwin

    Tcement, your sarcasm is thick.

  • 4fathersspawn

    I am a descendant of this family. Do you think anyone would be trying to verify DNA if there weren’t some truth to it? All I know is that SOMEBODY definitely from the Washington family fathered West Ford because not only did we inherit land but West was a free man long before slavery ended and a mulatto. He actually died before slavery ended. Some of the land is still in our family. I could care less if it is George Porge or Bushrod. I’m not proud of it because it is a reflection of rape. I won’t lie though I will laugh out loud when the truth comes out. Some whites will never get it. You want to turn up your noses at us like we invited your husbands to our beds. We didn’t ask for it; don’t take it out on us.

  • notea4me2

    That is one heck of a truth you speak.

  • sarah godwin

    Ben, I agree about there being no black Hanson who was the First President, but technically there was another White man who apparently served as President for a short time before Washington did.

    As for his alleged “sterility?” I think it just as likely that Martha Washington, in a time of relatively poor medical techniques and knowledge, could have been much less fertile with Washington than she had been with her earlier husband before he died, and there were no “fertlity cliniques” to go to with George.

  • sarah godwin

    And um, the term “Ozzie” in his screen name might just mean the poster is Australian, not British.

  • American76

    Excuse me. You are not a slave. Your ancestors may have been. But you most certainly are not. Therefore you cannot say “don’t take it out on us” because you did not live in that time period. Try “don’t take it out on them”