Politico's National Political Correspondent Ben Scherkinger recently did a deep dive on President Joe Biden's ancestry. During the course of his work, he connected with Alexander Bannerman, a genealogist who worked with Gary Boyd Roberts to write an academic piece exploring the President's background. Bannerman and Roberts found that the President's great-great-great-grandfathers enslaved multiple people.
"He pointed to Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather, Jesse Robinett, who enslaved two people in Allegany County, Maryland, in the 1800 census. Another 3rd-great-grandfather, Thomas Randle, enslaved a 14-year-old male in the 1st District of Baltimore County, Maryland, in 1850," Scherkinger said of his conversation with Bannerman.
"In 1860, census records show that Randle and his family had moved to Baltimore County’s 13th District, Bannerman said, and an 1860 slave schedule for the 13th District again shows Randle enslaving a single man."
Biden is far from the first politician to have ties to slavery. In the past, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke have tied their ancestry back to the transatlantic slave trade.
“We all need to know our own story as it relates to the national story, much as I am learning mine,” O'Rourke wrote in a blog post.
“It is only then, I believe, that we can take the necessary steps to repair the damage done and stop visiting this injustice on the generations that follow ours.”
In this area, O'Rourke is an anomaly. Senator McConnell and President Biden have not publicly addressed reports that their ancestry can be tied back to the slave trade. With that said, several people took to social media to let others know how unsurprised they are by this news.