President Joe Biden’s paternal forebears are said to have owned slaves, according to genealogists. An abridged passage from Politico correspondent Ben Schreckinger’s upcoming book “The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power” details their claimed findings.
According to census records and slave schedules discovered by Alexander Bannerman, a genealogist in West Virginia, and lineage specialist Gary Boyd Roberts, Biden’s ancestors owned enslaved persons in Maryland in the 1800s. After the 2020 presidential election, genealogist Bannerman collaborated with Roberts to compile Biden’s genealogy for the winter 2021 issues of American Ancestors magazine.
Using the 1850 US federal census, Bannerman told Schreckinger that during their study, they discovered that Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather Jesse Robinett enslaved two persons in Allegany County, Maryland. Another great-great-grandfather, Thomas Randle, enslaved a 14-year-old boy in Baltimore County in 1850, according to Bannerman. In 1860, Randle and his family relocated to another part of Baltimore County. According to census documents spotted by Bannerman, they possessed a single male slave at the time.
According to Bannerman, Biden has a family connection to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who has repeatedly highlighted his Irish Catholic roots. Biden’s ancestor Allen Robanet was related to Varina Anne Banks Howell, the wife of Confederate President Davis, according to the researcher.
The authors argue that it is not uncommon for Americans with colonial-era roots to have enslaved people tied to their family’s past, but Bannerman and Roberts’ published genealogy does not mention Biden’s historical ties to slavery. Furthermore, Bannerman claimed that Biden’s family history revealed “not many forebears and not many slaves.”
The White House has yet to comment on the allegations. But this isn’t the first time Biden’s ancestors have been linked to slaveholding. A portrait of what some claimed to be Biden’s great-grandfather was posted on social media ahead of the 2020 election. “Joe Biden’s great-grandpa Joseph J. Biden (1828-1880) was a slave owner who fought for the Confederate States of America,” read the caption accompanying the photo.
This was eventually proven to be untrue. Richard Young Bennett, a Confederate soldier, was identified as the man in the photograph.
However, historical census data have recently revealed that some notable personalities, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), had slave-owning relatives.
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