James Thomson Callender

(1758 - 1803)

Born in Scotland, James Thomson Callender fled to Philadelphia in 1793 after being indicted for sedition. He made a living publishing anti-Federalist journalism—such as evidence that Alexander Hamilton was having an adulterous affair—which led to another indictment for sedition. After serving nine months in jail, he hoped to be appointed postmaster in Richmond, Virginia, by his political ally President Thomas Jefferson. He failed to get the position and thereafter published an accusation that the president had children with the enslaved Sally Hemings. “I am really mortified at the base ingratitude of Callender,” wrote Jefferson. “It presents human nature in a hideous form.” A week before he was scheduled to testify in a libel case against a publisher, an allegedly drunk Callender was found drowned in a three-foot-deep section of the James River.

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1802 | Richmond, VA

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James Thomson Callender wants to talk about Sally Hemings.More

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