Skip to comments.Obama isn't the only one whose ancestors owned slaves (DOESN'T EVERYONE???)
Posted on 03/04/2007 5:18:36 PM PST by Chi-townChief
Before Friday, I did not know that my ancestors owned slaves. Now that I know, I almost wish I didn't. As they say, ignorance is bliss. I don't have that luxury anymore. Now I'll have to deal with it. For years, you see, my mom had tried to get me to take an interest in our family history.
She's compiled quite a bit of research and just wanted me to help get it organized and maybe take it to the next level before she's unable.
But for some reason, I never could get interested. When you have a name like Brown, you don't have much confidence that anybody is going to be able to accurately trace your roots.
About the only genealogical finding of my mom's that ever got my attention was learning that my dad's cousin, Clarence "Hooks" Lott, briefly pitched in the Major Leagues for the St. Louis Browns and New York Giants in the 1940s -- thus giving hope that some latent gene in the Brown lineage might yet produce a descendant who will rise above the athletic mediocrity that has characterized the family during my lifetime.
Then I read a story Friday from the Baltimore Sun reporting that it appears one of Sen. Barack Obama's ancestors on his mother's side was a slave owner, the dubious implication being that this somehow makes Obama less attuned to the struggles of American blacks.
My immediate reaction was: What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
But it also prompted me to give mom a call about the family tree, telling myself the worst news she could give me was that some distant relative fought for the Confederacy.
Thought they were poor hillbillies As far as I knew, my family had always been dirt poor. Both my parents trace their roots to the hills of Missouri. Beyond that, I knew my mom's side -- the Richardsons -- came from Kentucky. We're hillbillies, though I never thought of myself as such until I moved to Chicago, and people started asking me about my ethnic heritage. It never was an issue anywhere else I'd lived. I'd answer by explaining what little I knew, and they'd say, "So, you're a hillbilly," and after fighting the notion for a while, I decided they were right.
I'd considered it unlikely that my hillbilly ancestors could afford to own slaves.
Mom set me straight.
"I can tell you that we did have slaves," she said. "At one time, the Richardsons were wealthy, and they did have slaves."
It's probably not coincidental that my mom switched from "we" had slaves in one sentence to "they" had slaves in the next, because I'll tell you, it's a hard thing to say out loud. It's even hard to write.
"I don't remember you ever telling me this before," I told my mom, trying to push some of the guilt I was feeling off on her.
"I don't remember you ever listening to me before," said mom, properly pushing it back.
So here are the ugly facts, as best as I can glean them from some grainy documents from Pulaski County, Kentucky, that mom sent me.
My great-great-great-grandfather David E. Richardson was the last of my direct forebears to own slaves.
It appears he inherited them from the estate of his father Charles (my great-great-great-great-grandfather) just months before selling them on Feb. 25, 1853, to one of his brothers for $170. The brothers also may have inherited other slaves from Charles.
It's unclear to me exactly how many slaves in total they owned, but the handwritten records make specific reference to "one Negro boy named Tom about 17 years old of yellow complexion," as well as a 5-year-old girl named Sarah and 7-year-old boy named Patrick, "both of black complexion."
We had family on the other side of war, too Mom surmises that David Richardson, who had 16 children, sold the slaves because he had little money and couldn't afford them. She believes our family had owned slaves dating back to the late 1700s when my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Jesse Richardson, a brigadier general in the Revolutionary War, received a grant of land for his war service and became wealthy as a result.
One more pertinent fact: My great-great-grandfather Milford R. Richardson, the son of the last family slaveholder, did fight in the Civil War -- for the Union Army. He enlisted near the end in 1865, just long enough to be seriously injured -- when he was kicked by a mule.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton told the Baltimore Sun that the senator's ancestors "are representative of America."
"While a relative owned slaves, another fought for the Union in the Civil War," Burton said. "And it is a true measure of progress that the descendant of a slave owner would come to marry a student from Kenya and produce a son who would grow up to be a candidate for president of the United States."
An Obama presidential candidacy was always sure to make us re-examine race in America.
I just hadn't counted on the examination hitting so close to home.
Here are the other two articles:
Yet somehow GWB is a NAZI because his grandfather did business with the German gov't in 1939.
They're right - it doesn't matter. Next controversy?
I wish everyone would just leave it alone and get on with it..........at one time it was legal, now it is not!
It was wrong and it was corrected......by Republicans!!!
My family were PA coal miners and railroad workers. My German grandfather that was in the mines fought against Irish in their small town. Life was different in the 1920s.
This is as stupid as the Virginia legislature wasting time with the "apology for slavery" nonsense, as well as my own state of Missouri. If you, at some point in your life, have owned slaves, then you should apologize. If you haven't, then go on about your business. If you have been forced to pick cotton while in a legal state of involuntary servitude, then you deserve an apology (from the person to whose service you were in). If none of the above applies to you, then shut up and get on with your life.
Not that it matters who corrected it............
Strom Thurman and Trent Lott are still as bad as Hitler when they use their special sunglasses that make them blind to U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd's past.
The charade of the MSM becomes even more transparent as time passes.
Spare us, Bill. Being a candidate for President doesn't mean squat. Need evidence? Kucinich, Nader, Sharpton, Jackson, etc.
So, now it's okay to own slaves???
I'm hoping they will go to the next step and decide it's okay to smoke and get those d--- smoking nazis off our backs.
Anyone who has long-time antecedants in the south will run across a few slaves. One didn't have to be particularly wealthy to own a few. My GGGG (some number of G's) was a Baptist missionary/preacher in South Carolina and his will showed 3 slaves.
It's kinda like being able to afford a cleaning lady today -- wish I could.
I mean, forget it already, it was another time in a galaxy far, far away. It should never have been brought up. (thank you, Hillary)
Quite a problem for Obama and the reparations crew (which Barack Hussein says he's against; now we know why)
LOL - I hadn't thought of that!
No, actually my ancestors were slaves to the British in Ireland. We demand reparations, by the way.
"....Baltimore Sun reporting that it appears one of Sen. Barack Obama's ancestors on his mother's side was a slave owner...."
Yeah.....and it is also entirely that Obama's daddy the elite foreign-educated kenyan has some slave-sellers/owners in his own ancestry....
nonetheless, the race-pimps ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS avoid the fact that America threw slavery off in less than a century after America was formed
mine were too poor to have slaves in Indiana, where is my check? where is my daughters free education?
If you are looking for a handout, jodie has your girl.
Yeah.....and it is also entirely that Obama's daddy
Yeah.....and it is also entirely POSSIBLE that Obama's daddy
Give it up, guys! It's too complicated. Given the prevalence of slavery in EVERY culture back to the dawn of time . . . until the Brits started the ball rolling on abolition back in the early 19th century . . . we all have slaves and slaveholders on the family tree.
This writer was so worried he might have a Confederate soldier on the family tree. Sheesh . . . I've got 8 or 9 of them, and I still live.
I would be proud to find Confederate soldiers in my ancestry, just as I would if I found Union soldiers. It is history, for Pete's sake!
That would be cool although it's the wrong side of Africa for the Atlantic slave trade; but you never know.
On the other hand, my husband's mother is a New Jersey farm girl whose progenitors fought for the Union (at least the ones who had gotten here from Ireland already) and nobody around here holds it against him!
Actually, one of my ancestors was from New York City, and a bunch of his family stayed up north, so I probably have some cousins I don't know about who fought for the Union. I also had an Englishman ancestor who immigrated in the 1810s, to Newark NJ, with his father and brothers. A bunch of them stayed up north too. He moved to Alabama and did own slaves for a time, but sold them as he decided it was too much trouble and responsibility.
The historian Eugene Genovese said that slavery would have fallen of its own weight within a few more years, as mechanization and improved farming techniques made it completely obsolete.
Slavery was only economically viable as long as land was essentially free. A free man farming his own land is more productive than a slave who has to be watched, and only works hard enough to avoid punishment. He can therefore outbid a slave owner for farmland and still farm profitably
take a look at some of these:
You can sign me up too. Just as long as they don't pay us in credits for the NHS.
Kenya, 1966.....Time Magazine:
Smugglers of Flesh
Friday, May. 06, 1966
Slavery is a touchy subject for Africans, who have both practiced and been victimized by it for centuries. When the United Nations made a recent survey of its members to discover the extent of slavery today, 14 African countries ignored the questions and many of the others were evasive. Though the report showed that slavery is gradually disappearing, London's 143-year-old Anti-Slavery Society claims that it still exists in many parts of Africa. Last week, in fact, Kenya and neighboring Tanzania were embroiled in one of the continent's messiest slavery scandals since the days of Stanley and Tippu Tib.*
Curse of the Kiboko. The scandal broke with the discovery that a band of Kenyan "slave masters" has been luring young boys from Kenya's remote bush district of Kisii, shipping them 400 miles away to Tanzania, then putting them to work as forced laborers in sawmills and on maize farms. Both the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have launched investigations, arrested seven Kenyan slavers so far. By last week police had freed 48 boys between seven and 16 years old, were scouring northern Tanzania in search of 200 other youngsters who are still missing.
Ex-Slave Ongera Okeja, 16, told how a man had approached him more than three years before in Kisii and offered him $7 a month to cut timber. From the start, he had received no money at all, been given only two changes of castoff work clothes and a small daily ration of maize and soya beans. Ten-year-old Mageto was recruited when he was seven. Pointing to a raw, partially healed wound on his leg, he said: "We were always forbidden to leave camp, but I finally did and was lashed for it." Whippings in Mageto's camp were a regular daily ordeal, administered with a skin-shredding bark lash called a kiboko.
Working deep in the cold, damp rain forests on the Tanzanian slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, the boys put in a 12-to 14-hour day, slept in crowded grass hovels, huddling together at night for a little warmth. When a boy got sick or was hurt, there was no medical treatment. Otundo, a 14-year-old who spoke with a frightened stutter, told police about a friend who was injured by a falling tree: his throat was slit because he could no longer work.
Priority Treatment. Tanzania's President Julius Nyerere has ordered "priority" treatment of the slave scandal, and Kenya's Jomo Kenyattaappalled by these "smugglers of living flesh"sent a Cabinet aide to Kisii to direct the investigation personally. The governments are also tightening their laws. Up to now, slave masters who did not actually sell their victims could only be prosecuted under child-labor or minimumwage laws. In Tanzania, offenders face a maximum of $280 in fines, three months in jail, and payment of back wages. Kenya's maximum sentence is a $70 fine for first offenders, $140 fine for repeaters. To those who sell their slaves outright, the courts are tougher. A slaver convicted in Kenya last month was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and twelve strokes of the lash.
* Notorious boss of the Zanzibar-based slave trade in the 1880s who, as virtual ruler of central Africa between the Congo and Lake Tanganyika, became Stanley's business partner in return for providing him with "porters."
I don't really care, other than as a historical interest. The columnist is obviously suffering from LGS (liberal guilt syndrome), in which you feel obligated to feel guilty about something you didn't have anything to do with, while feeling no guilt about bad things you do.
Ahhhh, modern day slavery - slipped my mind. Thanks.
Fish don't know they're wet, and when something is part of your local culture it's just accepted as part of the landscape.
Some of my ancestors (white) were captured by Indians in Royalton, Vermont, taken to Montreal and sold to the French as slaves.
OTOH, I'm mostly Slavic. We gave the world the very word 'slave'...
BOTH sides of his fambly owned slaves. It's a muslim thang, you wouldn't understand...
Congratulations on an excellent point.
Every person on the planet probably has both slaves and slavers in his ancestry. The only question is how far back you would have to go to find them.
Here's your choices chum, Atlantic trade, you get to pick cotton. [muslim] Arab trade you get to be castrated and guard the harem...
Thanks for the posts. My Cherokee ancestors were in Texas and married into the family in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Texas Cherokees immigrated from the east, so it's certainly possible they owned slaves. As you can imagine, there's not a whole lot of written documentation, beyond passed down verbal accounts.
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"Quite a problem for Obama....".
I guess he'll have to pay reparations to himself.
In my genealogy research I have found that many of my South Carolina ancestors owned slaves. I have the copies of the records showing slaves being bought, sold and willed. What effect does that have on me? Absolutly nothing.
The last Confederate general to surrender was Stand Watie, a Cherokee and a slaveowner. Slavery was common among the Cherokee.
Actually, I'm not sure he surrendered. He may have just signed a cease-fire with the Yankees.
Africa, not very far back at all. . . still going on in many places. American South, not very far either. Central America, not much earlier. In Europe, there were still slaves in Britain in Christian times, in the rest of Europe you have to go back a bit further. But of course there were slaves everywhere the Roman Empire extended, and before that the Greeks and Egyptians.
But yes, it's just a matter of how far back you have to go.
Nah - he should pay them to the "first black president" Ol' Slick.
In the time of St. Patrick "British slave girl" was a unit of currency, equivelent to three cows.
FWIW, India, SE Asia, China and Japan all had slaves at different times in their history.
Then you can get into some interesting distinctions about what is slavery and what isn't. Serfdom, for instance, shades into slavery, and the word slavery itself covers a remarkable range of institutions.
In the glory period of the Ottoman Empire, for instance, the most powerful and wealthy men in the Empire, who ran the entire government and military (a distinction without much difference in the Empire) were the slaves of the Sultan.
All the liberals whose ancestors owned slaves will come out of the woodwork now and provide cover for Obama.
Their descendants are known as "Redlegs".
If they're kin to me it must be back in Scotland, because my Scottish ancestor in the direct male line left Scotland in the 40s (1740s) one jump ahead of the sheriff. He was a MacGregor (basically the Scottish Mafia) and he changed his name to escape his past . . .
That's an interesting question -- would you rather be descended from a professional criminal, or a slave, or a slaveholder? I know I'm descended from Nos. 1 and 3 . . . and probably No. 2 as well, although I don't know exactly where . . .
Columnist Mark Brown is incorrect about his ancestry. His ancestor "General" Jesse Richardson was actually a private in the Revolutionary War.
I ran across some interesting statistics recently. Less than 5% of the slaves transported across the Atlantic came to what is now the US. The vast majority went to Brazil and the Caribbean. Yet mention guilt for slavery or the slave trade and almost always the country that pops up in most people's minds as being responsible is the US.
How often do you hear about Brazil, the country that actually took a majority of the slaves, being liable for an apology or for reparations?
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