Tom & Sally – A Slave to Love The Love Story of Thomas Jefferson & His Slave Sally Hemings

By Barbara Harbach
Published: 1991

The musical begins on the plantation of John Wayles (Jefferson’s father-in-law), where the slaves sing When I Cross That River (Song 1), a rousing spiritual that reflects their lives of hard work and their hopes for the future. Sally is the teenage daughter of Wayles and his slave Betty Hemings. Filled with typical teenage longings, she sings Looking for an Angel (Song 2). Down SlaveryÕs Road (Song 3) is sung as the slaves move via wagon train to Monticello, because they have been willed to Martha Wayles Jefferson. They are welcomed at the stately Monticello (Song 4) and join a celebratory Down-Home Hoedown (Song 5).

Jefferson comforts his dying wife by singing (Happily) Never After (Song 6). The slaves of the Monticello estate share a rich culture As Old as the Hills (Song 7). Meanwhile, JeffersonÕs wife dies and Jefferson mourns her loss in The River Styx (Song 8). The slaves mark her passing with the jubilant spiritual The Good Lord is CominÕ for Me (Song 9).

Tom responds to the growing American Independence movement in One Nation, Fair and Free (Song 10), along with chorus and Sally who simultaneously articulates her own vision of what it means to be free. Tom is increasingly attracted to Sally, and sings SheÕs a Woman (Song 11). With the independence movement coming to a climax, Jefferson writes the Declaration of Independence (Song 12) which he delivers along with the Virginian delegation from the Continental Congress. During a quiet moment in the celebration, Tom and Sally sing the love duet Passage to My Heart (Song 13). Act One ends with a great celebration in VirginiaÕs Real (Song 14).

Act Two opens with a festive slave wedding Jump the Broom (Song 15), a celebration involving several plantations. Sally entertains the gathering with Evening Love (Song 16). After the event is over, Callender, a drunken politician, tries to rape Sally, who is saved by her brother, James. Callender brutally whips James until finally discovered by Jefferson. James sings angrily of A Human Soul (Song 17), and Callender promises CallenderÕs Revenge (Song 18).

A year later in JeffersonÕs personal study, Sally sings A MotherÕs Lullaby (Song 19) to their child Madison. They discuss his political travels and responsibilities. She sings of her love for Jefferson in A Slave to Love (Song 20).

Some years go by, and Jefferson is elected President. Slavery continues to produce numerous personal tragedies, evoked in Many Thousands Gone (Song 21). The scandal of Jefferson and SallyÕs relationship is broken by Callender, and immediately makes front pages across the nation. A Yankee Doodle Scandal (Song 22) captures the eighteenth century media circus, and incorporates authentic lyrics from the lampooning ballads of the day. Sally, back at Monticello, sings Love is the Loneliest Thing (Song 23), echoed by Jefferson. Callender is found dead in a river, and Jefferson remains silent during the scandal. Jefferson returns home to great acclaim in Jefferson, the Virginian (Song 24). Since freeing Sally would be dangerous for both Tom and Sally, he frees their son Madison Hemings, who sings IÕll Head for a New Horizon (Song 25). Tom and Sally (and chorus) envision a day when slavery is ended in America, The Promised Land (Song 26).