A recent investigation has revealed that a significant number of members from the previous sitting Congress in the United States, more than 100 individuals, have direct lineage to ancestors who enslaved Black people. This comprises around 8 per cent of Democrats in Congress and 28 per cent of Republicans.
At least 100 members of the last sitting Congress in the United States are direct descendants of ancestors who enslaved Black people, representing at least eight per cent of Democrats in Congress and 28 per cent of Republicans, a recent investigation has found.
They include some of the most influential politicians in America, including Republican senators Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton and James Lankford, along with Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.
In addition, US President Joe Biden and every living former president of the country, except Donald Trump, are direct descendants of slaveholders: Jimmy Carter, George W Bush, Bill Clinton — and through his white mother’s side — Barack Obama.
Trump’s ancestors came to America after slavery was abolished. These 100 members also include a fifth of the nation’s congressmen, living presidents, Supreme Court justices and governors, the investigation by Reuters suggests.
Of the said group, more than a quarter of the Senate, that is 28 members, can trace their families to at least one slaveholder. The lawmakers from the 117th session of Congress are Democrats and Republicans alike.
How Many Leaders Have Ancestral Ties?
According to Reuters’ research, a total of 118 leaders with ancestral ties to slavery were identified. These are –
- 100 members of the 117th Congress
- 11 governors
- 5 presidents
- 2 sitting Supreme Court justices
The 11 mentioned governors include eight chief executives of the 11 states that formed the Confederate States of America, which seceded and waged war to preserve slavery.
Two are seeking the Republican nomination for president: Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas, and Doug Burgum of North Dakota.
In addition to the political leaders Reuters identified, there are millions of Americans who are descendants of enslavers as well, Tony Burroughs, a genealogist who specialises in helping Black Americans trace their ancestries, told Reuters.
The investigation, however, could not establish how the proportion of leaders who descend from slaveholders compares to that of all Americans.
The lineages of the political elites were traced after consulting thousands of documents, census records, slave schedules, tax documents, estate records, newspaper accounts, birth and death certificates, etc.