When thinking of the late 1700’s and the early 1800’s many people think of women as a connection of their husband, but only if you are white. During this time, there were different status for different people not just low class, middle class, or high class. Instead you had male and female categories who also had the free whites and generally the slaves which were mostly African Americans, even if they were not considered people but property. Sometimes it was hard to fully understand what exactly a person was.
Sally Hemings was an intelligent and brave female for this time. But her core identity was heavily based on slavery. Imagine growing up as a slave in one country, move to another country become free and be accepted as a lady. One who could actually wear nice clothing and attend events. But the minute she enters America she is then classified as a slave once again because of the color of her skin. Sally’s life was ruled by where she lived if it was under slave territory or not. The slave laws were also very harsh, if you are a slave then your children are also slaves. Sally was a slave in America and thus her children were also slaves.
If Sally was just a white female she would have been free to move about countries, marry, and possibly own property. But because Sally was an African American and a slave in some countries but not in others her life was dictated by that single detail. She could be one women in one country but a completely different women in another. Seeing this I believe her identity was shaped by slavery and its laws.