15 Major Corporations You Never Knew Profited from Slavery

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The enslavement of African people in the Americas by the nations and peoples of Western Europe, created the economic engine that funded modern capitalism. Therefore it comes as no surprise that most of the major corporations that were founded by Western European and American merchants prior to roughly 100 years ago, benefited directly from slavery.

 

Lehman Bros

Lehman Brothers, whose business empire started in the slave trade, recently admitted their part in the business of slavery.

According to the Sun Times, the financial services firm acknowledged recently that its founding partners owned not one, but several enslaved Africans during the Civil War era and that, “in all likelihood,” it “profited significantly” from slavery.

“This is a sad part of our heritage …We’re deeply apologetic … It was a terrible thing … There’s no one sitting in the United States in the year 2005, hopefully, who would ever, in a million years, defend the practice,” said Joe Polizzotto, general counsel of Lehman Brothers.

aetna insurance

Aetna, Inc., the United States’ largest health insurer, apologized for selling policies in the 1850s that reimbursed slave owners for financial losses when the enslaved Africans they owned died.

“Aetna has long acknowledged that for several years shortly after its founding in 1853 that the company may have insured the lives of slaves,” said Aetna spokesman Fred Laberge in 2002. “We express our deep regret over any participation at all in this deplorable practice.”

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