By Angela L. Braden
While it is believed by many that Malia and Sasha Obama are the first African American children to live in the White House, the assertion is simply untrue.
The first African American child lived in the White House as early as 1806.
The child, who was named after President Thomas Jefferson, who was in office at the time, was the child of Eddy and Fanny, who were slaves of President Jefferson. Incidentally enough, young Thomas was also the slave of President Jefferson, being that children of women who were slaves had to carry the same burden of slavery as their mothers.
Historians report that young Thomas was the second baby to be born at the White House, only eleven months after President Jefferson’s grandson, who is also named Thomas. But the two Thomas’s began very different lives. One was free and had great access to countless services; while the other Thomas was a slave and left to access services that were undignified for the average white child in the United States.
Thomas, the child of Fanny and Eddy, who worked in the White House, was said to be quite ill as a baby. Sadly, Thomas only lived two years in the White House. He died at the age of two because of his illnesses.
While Thomas’ story is often untold, the fact still remains that his young life began at the White House.
And Thomas, who bore no last name because of his slave status, was indeed the first African American child to live in the White House. His residence in the White House is more than 200 years before Malia and Sasha would call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home.