More than 100 U.S. political leaders have ancestors who were slaveholders

10:36 29.06.2023 •

A slave-coffle passes the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., circa 1815.
Library of Congress/Handout via REUTERS

At least 100 members of the last sitting Congress are direct descendants of ancestors who enslaved Black people, representing at least 8% of Democrats in Congress and 28% of Republicans.

The group includes Republican senators Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton and James Lankford, and Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.

President Joe Biden and every living former U.S. president except Donald Trump are direct descendants of slaveholders.

Governors of 11 of the 50 U.S. states in 2022 were descendants of slaveholders, as were two U.S. Supreme Court justices.

The Congressional slaveholding ancestors were among the richest in America before the Civil War; three-quarters were among the richest 10%.

In researching America’s political elite, Reuters found names of more than 700 people enslaved by ancestors of the leaders.


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