With that book fresh on my mind, I decided to republish this post that I wrote back in January of 2013. Hope you'll enjoy it a second time around!
The titillating television series Scandal is now in its fifth season on ABC. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it centers around Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a former media relations consultant who has the power to "fix" things for everyone. Now, she is on her own working for herself with a new law firm but has a huge scandal of her own to contend with.
While working on a gubernatorial campaign as a media relations consultant, she had an affair with then candidate, Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (Tony Goldwyn). Now as a fixer, she is called upon to fix a scandal in the president’s office. However, the president now residing in office just happens to be Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III, and his affair with Olivia begins all over again. By the way, did I mention Olivia is black and Grant is white?
Forbidden love is nothing new in politics, but throw race into the mix and it becomes explosive! According to the Monticello website, “The claim that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemings, a slave at Monticello, entered the public arena during Jefferson's first term as president, and it has remained a subject of discussion and disagreement for two centuries.
Another interesting story revolves around Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson and his mulatto, Julia Chinn. Johnson served as vice president under Martin Van Buren. He and Chinn are referred to briefly in distinguished historian Thomas Fleming’s novel, The Wages of Fame.
Undercover Blackman says, “How much of a “Negro” was Julia Chinn? Well, she was a slave… a slave Johnson inherited from his father. She was “Negro” enough that Richard Johnson couldn’t have married her legally...Yet she was his mate. His common-law wife, in effect.
“ ‘She was the hostess at his Kentucky home when [French aristocrat] the Marquis de Lafayette visited,’ wrote Lindsey Apple, a retired Georgetown College history professor, in answer to questions from me.”
Johnson served in Kentucky’s state legislature (1804-1806; 1819), the U.S. House of Representatives (1807-1819; 1829-1837) and the U.S. Senate (1819-1829) prior to his becoming vice president.
|Richard Mentor Johnson|
Abraham Lincoln made reference to Chinn in a rather non-complimentary way. He exploited Johnson’s relationship with her to score a point against Stephen Douglas during the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.
His words are as follow:
...I have never seen to my knowledge a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness – and that is the case of Judge Douglas’ old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson.
Thurmond’s love child from his relationship, Essie May Washington-Williams, penned her memoir, Dear Senator, in 2005. She waited until after her father’s death, at age 100, to reveal his secret.
A Publisher’s Weekly review of Dear Senator explains that Carrie Butler died at 38 in a hospital's poverty ward. Although she rarely appears in the memoir, Ms. Washington-Williams “fashions her a kind of love story: ‘I knew [Thurmond] loved my mother. I believed he loved me, after his fashion.’”
The love story Ms. Washington portrayed in Dear Senator provided the inspiration for my novel The Governor’s Sons, a provocative tale that examines a “politically incorrect” relationship of a young law student who falls in love with his family's hired help, a college age black girl.
Perhaps there are more forbidden love stories hidden in the annals of history just waiting to be discovered. Maybe they'll inspire more novels—or even influence a story line in a TV series.
Are you a fan of "Scandal"? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!