Friday, March 2, 2007

Slave Owners in the Political Woodpile

Now the news media (or is it a political machine?) are making the case that Barack Obama has slave owners in his ancestry through his mother. What a surprise...except it is not a surprise if you think about it.

Many people with 5 generations or more of Southern ancestry likely have a slave holder in their ancestry - whether their race is white or black.

Indeed, there have been many Presidents with a slave holding background - including Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Current Presidential candidates with a Southern background, and likely slave holders in their ancestry, include John Edwards, Al Gore and John McCain. Are they going to be scrutinized and their integrity questioned also?

The known ancestry of many political candidates and office holders are provided by William Addams Reitweisner at . It's a great web site!

Perusing Reitweisner's site, I found that I am a 9th cousin to Mitt Romney (most recent common ancestors are Francis Nurse and Rebecca Towne), and an 8th cousin to Bill Richardson (MRCA are Joseph Farwell/Hannah Learned and John Bigelow/Mary Warren). I can't find any link to Hillary Rodham, Rudy Guiliani, John McCain, or John Edwards.

And a confession - I have ancestors who had slaves in Rhode Island in the 18th and 19th centuries - I see them being bequeathed in some of the wills I've been transcribing. I guess this means that I can run for President too!

As I said before - all of this doesn't really matter. What does matter is how each person acts and communicates their principles and ideals. The moral sins of the fathers (and slavery was a moral sin in my thinking, even though it was legal) should not be attached to the later generations.

However, it does sell newspapers, make people cluck at the perceived character flaw, and provide blog content to some of us!


Craig Manson said...


I agree with you about the issue of slaveowners in one's background. What am I to make of the fact that I have slaveowners throughout my family tree? It's an historical fact and doesn't dictate my stand on any particular issue today!

blair said...

Many African Americas who researched their family trees would be shocked to discover some of their ancestors were slave owners. In the United States, free blacks as well as whites owned slaves (one of the South's biggest slave owners was a free black man.) The precentage of blacks who owned slaves was small, of course, but so was the perecentage of whites who owned slaves.

African Americans who traced their ancestory back to Africa would discover their virtually all their African ancestors were involved in the slave trade. African tribes ran the slave markets.