A genealogist says there's evidence Joe Biden's 19th century ancestors owned 3 slaves: report

  • In Politics
  • 2021-09-14 14:42:35Z
  • By Business Insider
joe biden
joe biden  
  • New evidence shows two of President Joe Biden's ancestors owned slaves in the 19th century.

  • Genealogist Alexander Bannerman reveals his findings in a forthcoming book about Biden's family.

  • Bannerman said the ties to slavery are limited, saying, "Not a lot of ancestors, and not a lot of slaves."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Two of President Joe Biden's 19th-century ancestors on his father's side are believed to have owned three slaves, according to recent findings from genealogist Alexander Bannerman.

The West Virginia-based genealogist discussed his findings with journalist and author Ben Schreckinger for his forthcoming book "The Bidens: Inside the First Family's Fifty-Year Rise to Power," an excerpt of which was published in Politico Magazine on Tuesday.

Biden's great-great-great-grandfather, Jesse Robinett was listed as owning two slaves in Allegany County, Maryland, in the 1800 census, Bannerman found.

Records from the 1850 Census and slave schedules also show that Biden's 3rd-great-grandfather, Thomas Randle, owned a 14-year-old male slave in Baltimore County, Maryland, Bannerman said, with the 1860 Census still showing Randle owning one person after the family moved to a different part of the county.

Bannerman noted, however, that Biden's ties to slavery are relatively limited, given that his family's presence in the United States goes back to the Colonial era.

"Not a lot of ancestors, and not a lot of slaves," he said, per the excerpt in Politico Magazine.

Politicians' ties to slavery have come under greater scrutiny from voters and the media in recent years as members of Congress and scholars alike have seriously debated the topic of reparations for Black Americans descended from slaves.

Former President Barack Obama, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke all have ancestors who owned slaves.

Two of McConnell's great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned at least 14 slaves in Alabama in the 1800s, according to an NBC News review of historical census data.

"You know, I find myself in the same position as President Obama," McConnell told reporters in July 2019. "We both oppose reparations and we both are the descendants of slave owners."

While Obama - whose father is Kenyan and mother was American - was first running for president in 2007, the amateur genealogist William Reitwiesner found evidence that Obama's ancestors on his mother's side of the family owned slaves, The Guardian reported at the time.

According to the outlet's reporting of Reitwiesner's review of census records, George Washington Overall, Obama's great-great-great-great grandfather, and Mary Duvall, his great-great-great-great grandmother, recorded owning two slaves each in Kentucky in the 1850 census.

During the 2020 presidential campaign, O'Rourke revealed in a Medium blog post titled "Rose and Eliza" that he had obtained new records showing his ancestors owned at least two slaves in the 19th century, and that his wife Amy's family also had enslaved people,

"Something that we've been thinking about and talking about in town hall meetings and out on the campaign - the legacy of slavery in the United States - now has a much more personal connection," he wrote.


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