Sunday, March 4, 2007
Obama told of family's slave-owning history in deep South
An amateur genealogist has revealed a surprise in the family tree of the black contender in the race to be the Democrats' presidential candidate
"It is a question that few thought a man aiming to be America's first black President would ever have to answer: did your family once own slaves? But that question is now likely to be asked of Senator Barack Obama, who is bidding for the 2008 presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, in part on the appeal of his bi-racial background.
As the son of a black Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother, Obama has seemed to embody a harmonious vision of America's multiracial society. However, recent revelations have thrown up an unexpected twist in the tale.
Obama's ancestors on his white mother's side appear to have been slave owners. William Reitwiesner, an amateur genealogical researcher, has published a history of Obama's mother's family and discovered that her ancestors have a distinctly shadowy past.
Reitwiesner traced Obama's great-great-great-great-grandfather, George Washington Overall, and found that he owned two slaves in Kentucky: a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man. He also found out that Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Duvall, also owned a pair of slaves listed in an 1850 census record. They were a 60-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman. In fact, the Duvalls were a wealthy family whose members were descended from a major landowner, Maureen Duvall, whose estate owned at least 18 slaves in the 17th century........"