At Least Two of Biden's 19th-Century Ancestors Were Enslavers, New Book Claims

© REUTERS / Leah MillisU.S. President Joe Biden gives remarks at Mather Airport, California
U.S. President Joe Biden gives remarks at Mather Airport, California
 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.09.2021
Throughout his political career of more than 40 years, US President Joe Biden has proudly embraced his Irish roots -- which can be traced back to the great famine, per US genealogist Megan Smolenyak. While Biden may be quick to quote an Irish poet and pay respects to his maternal ancestry, less has been said about his paternal lineage and heritage.
A new publication citing West Virginia-based genealogist Alexander Bannerman and lineage expert Gary Boyd Roberts has concluded that at least two of Biden's paternal ancestors enslaved multiple people in the 19th century.
The experts' findings are highlighted in Politico correspondent Ben Schreckinger’s upcoming book, "The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power," and have been regarded as the first full, authoritative genealogy of Biden to be published.
According to an excerpt from the forthcoming work, Bannerman was able to confirm via the 1800 Census that Biden's great-great-great-grandfather, Jesse Robinett, was listed as the owner of two enslaved people in Alleghany County, Maryland, at the time.
Thomas Randle, another 3rd-great-grandfather of the US president, enslaved a 14-year-old boy in Baltimore County, Maryland, according to 1850 Census records and slave schedules cited by the genealogist. Randle remained listed as an enslaver of a single person during the 1860 Census.
The West Virginia genealogist noted that while enslavement was practiced by Biden's ancestors, their overall ties to slavery were on the lower end of the spectrum - especially for those with colonial ancestry.

"Not a lot of ancestors, and not a lot of slaves," Bannerman said.

It was also revealed that Biden has extended familial ties to Varina Anne Banks Howell, the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The experts' findings on Biden's paternal ancestry come months after the viral dissemination of a photo that showed a Confederate soldier, and claimed: "Joe Biden’s great grandfather Joseph J. Biden (1828-1880) was a slave-owner and fought for the Confederate States of America."
While the Biden family does have ties to 19th-century enslavement in the US, the man depicted in the image was later identified as Richard Young Bennett.
It is worth noting that Biden is not the only descendant of enslavers, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and former US President Barack Obama both have ancestors who engaged in the practice.
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