Author: Israel Gillette Jefferson


“Life Among the Lowly, No. 3” by Israel Jefferson (December 25, 1873)

In “Life Among the Lowly, No. 3,” published in the Pike County Republican on December 25, 1873, Israel Jefferson writes about his enslaved upbringing at Thomas Jefferson‘s plantation Monticello. The title is likely a reference to Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852). Located in Waverly, Ohio, the Republican was edited by S. F. Wetmore, a Republican Party member who was interested in the plight of freedmen. He conducted the interview with Jefferson and likely assisted in the writing of the memoir. Earlier in the year, Wetmore had published another memoir, “Life Among the Lowly, No. 1”—this one by Madison Hemings, another man formerly enslaved at Monticello, who claimed to be Thomas Jefferson’s son with Sally Hemings. Jefferson’s grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, later wrote, but did not send, a letter to the editor rebutting Israel Jefferson’s recollections.