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Nation IN BRIEF / WASHINGTON, D.C.

Bush at Ceremony Honoring Jefferson

April 13, 2001|From Times Wire Reports

President Bush marked Thomas Jefferson's birthday at the White House in a ceremony that included descendants of Sally Hemings, the slave with whom Jefferson is said to have fathered six children.

Before signing a proclamation in honor of Jefferson's 258th birthday, the president was joined onstage by six people. One of them, Troy Harding, wore his hair in distinctive cornrows. Also onstage was Paul Harris, a black man who now holds the Virginia General Assembly seat once held by Jefferson.

"Jefferson is the poet laureate of American freedom," Bush said. "He lived a long time ago, yet he still speaks directly to the present. Few former presidents survive more vividly in our memories. And we feel his presence especially strongly in this place."

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