From the Times article:
“The connections between these two men are so divorced from anything resembling what could be recognized today as ‘normal’ human relations that they can be recovered only in the imagination and, even then, only with great difficulty,” she writes of James Hemings and Jefferson.And then there is Sally, light-skinned and beautiful, who apparently bore a remarkable resemblance to her dead half-sister.
Ms. Gordon-Reed tries to understand why the pregnant Sally Hemings made the decision to return with Jefferson to Virginia from Paris, where the law declared her a free person and where there was a community of free Africans.
She suggests that an insecure existence in a foreign country, away from her family, would be a frightening prospect for a pregnant teenager. Jefferson promised to free their children in exchange for her coming back to Virginia; she would have a home and a powerful protector.
All four of her children were later freed; three of them passed as white."