Sunday, February 25, 2007

Genealogy is in the news

So I take a day off from genea-blogging, and look what happens.

1) Noted genealogists Megan Smolenyak and Tony Burroughs break the news that Al Sharpton's ancestors were probably owned by Strom Thurmond's ancestors - see the New York Daily News article here.

2) Some of Mitt Romney's ancestors were Mormons who practiced polygamy. The original Boston Globe story is here.

We heard about the biracial ancestry of Barack Obama a while ago (and I found out that he is my distant cousin). Hillary Rodham Clinton's ancestry has been known for many years. Some researchers and authors make a living tracing the ancestry of the rich and famous.

It should be only a matter of time before we know more about the ancestry of John McCain, Rudy Guiliani, John Edwards and other presidential hopefuls.

One Bible saying is interpreted as saying "the sins of the father will be visited on the children for three or four generations." However, many Biblical scholars (I am NOT a scholar) say that this is not what God meant (see this article). In 2 Kings 14:1-6, the Bible says "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin."

The latter sums up my own attitude - let every person be evaluated and judged on their own acts, words and deeds - not on the acts, words or deeds of their ancestors, or other family members.

The newspapers and commentators are trying to make political hay from the ancestry of our candidates for office. We in the genealogy community should monitor these efforts, correct any errors in the research, and appreciate the publicity that the articles generate.

The reactions and attitudes of the candidates toward the revelations about other candidates will tell me more about their character. Likewise, the candidate who says that he has learned lessons from the words, deeds and acts of his ancestors, and tells us what the lessons are, will be rewarded.

I am reminded of the famous Mark Twain quote - ""Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Go into politics and your opponents will do it for you." So true!

3 comments:

Bill West said...

Don't know if you've seen this one Randy. Not on genealogy but related
if you have ancestors buried there.

http://www.bostonist.com/archives/2007/02/23/dr_pepper_almost_defaces_graves.php

Bill West

Jack said...

I was very happy today to note that Ancestry.com has added the 1895 and 1905 Wisconsin state censuses. I had accessed them at a Family History Library many years ago, but am happy to be able to expand my search.

Myrt said...

Thanks Randy, for putting these so-called scandalous genealogy reports into perspective. While Megan's Sharpton/Thurmond research wasn't going for shock value, the original reporter of Mitt Romney's polygamous ancestor clearly attempted to enflame voters to righteous indignation.

As competent researchers, we must take care to record the facts, and not allow our 21st century mind-set to cloud of view of our ancestors' lives.

Most likely, we all have colorful "characters" if not down-right skeletons in our ancestral closets, yet we are to record the facts as they come before us.

I agree, that I would wish to be judged on my own merits, and not on the exploits of progenitors.