Marquette Warrior: Obama’s Ancestors May Have Owned Slaves

Friday, March 02, 2007

Obama’s Ancestors May Have Owned Slaves

Via Jiblog, some interesting information about the candidate who is supposedly the Great Black Hope in the 2008 election.
Census records, genealogical research indicate forbears of Obama’s mother had slaves

WASHINGTON -- Many people know that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas.

But an intriguing sliver of his family history has received almost no attention until now: it appears that forebears of his white mother owned slaves, according to genealogical research and Census records.

The records -- which had never been addressed publicly by the Illinois senator or his relatives -- were first noted in an ancestry report compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner, who works at the Library of Congress and practices genealogy in his spare time. The report, on Reitwiesner’s Web site, carries a disclaimer that it is a “first draft” -- one likely to be examined more closely if Obama is nominated.

According to the research, one of Obama’s great-great-great-great grandfathers, George Washington Overall, owned two slaves who were recorded in the 1850 Census in Nelson County, Ky. The same records show that one of Obama’s great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary Duvall, also owned two slaves.

The Sun retraced much of Reitwiesner’s work, using Census information available on the Web site and documents retrieved by the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, among other sources. The records show that Overall, then 30, owned a 15-year-old black female and a 25-year-old black male, while Mary Duvall, his mother-in-law, owned a 60-year-old black man and a 58-year-old black woman. (Slaves are listed in the 1850 Census by owner, age, “sex,” and “colour,” not by name.)
Interesting information indeed, if you think it actually matters whose ancestors owned slaves, and whose ancestors were slaves.
An Obama spokesman did not dispute the information and said that the senator’s ancestors “are representative of America.”

“While a relative owned slaves, another fought for the Union in the Civil War,” campaign spokesman Bill Burton said tonight. “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.”
But then why does this “progress” not render it moot what one’s ancestors did?

It seems that it can matter when it’s convenient, but not otherwise.
The research traces the Duvalls to Mareen Duvall, a major land owner in Anne Arundel County in the 1600s. The inventory of his estate in 1694 names 18 slaves, according to a family history published in 1952.

The records could add a new dimension to questions by some who have asked whether Obama -- who was raised in East Asia and Hawaii and educated at Columbia and Harvard -- is attuned to the struggles of American blacks descended from West African slaves.
We frankly don’t care whether Obama’s ancestors owned slaves.

Having been the descendent of slaves does not make one well-qualified to be president. Neither does it make one ill-qualified. But the same goes for being the descendent of slave owners.

But black race hustlers (and their white liberal allies) insist that people whose ancestors were slaves have some great moral claim against society, and have a right to hold a grudge against whites (and not merely whites who owned slaves, but all whites). So long as they continue to do this, it is appropriate to rub their noses in their own demented logic.

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