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8 US Presidents You May Not Have Known Bought and Sold Enslaved Africans

Earlier this week the nation celebrated President’s Day. Historian Clarence Lusane highlighted the obvious contradictions in his most recent article, “Missing from Presidents’ Day: The People They Enslaved.”

“Schools across the country are adorned with posters of the 44 U.S. presidents, children’s books put students on a first-name basis with the presidents, and U.S. history textbooks describe the accomplishments and challenges of the major presidential administrations.

“But while these books engage students and readers with stories of the presidents’ accomplishments and challenges, stories of their dogs in the Rose Garden or childhood escapades, there is no mention that more than 1-in-4 U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery. These presidents bought, sold and bred enslaved people for profit. Of the 12 presidents who were enslavers, more than half kept people in bondage at the White House.”

George Washington (1789-1797)

Washington, the first president of the United States, is often hailed as one of its best.

When he was just 12 years old, Washington inherited several Africans in bondage, and he reportedly gained another 200 more through his wife’s estate. The total number of enslaved people owned by Washington ranges from 216 to 316.

It is a widely held belief that Washington struggled with the concept of slavery. His actions, however, proved he stood firmly in agreement with the barbaric practice. Amongst other things, Washington signed the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law, the first to provide for the right of whites to recapture Black people they had made their slaves, even within free states that had abolished slavery.

What people are saying

18 thoughts on “8 US Presidents You May Not Have Known Bought and Sold Enslaved Africans

  1. Knox Mahlaba says:

    'Enslaved Africans' instead of 'Slaves'! love the terminology! we are really heading in the right direction when we are able to acknowledge ourselves and dignify those who came before us! actually wrote a poem about this!

  2. Ernest Bynum says:

    Tremendous article. Washington became President in 1789. The country was founded in 1776. Who were the President's for those thirteen years before Washington?

  3. Sundiata Keita says:

    i believe they had 8 presidents before george washington. one was black. feel free to google it, they got it in a few books, i cant remember the names of them right now.

  4. Sundiata Keita They get written out of history because they did not serve under declaration of independence. King George did not approve of the article of the confederates.

  5. Sundiata Keita says:

    Ernest Bynum: there were 8 presidents before George Washington. please look it up and pass it on to your children and friends. peace be unto you brutha

  6. Mohammed Shakur says:

    Sundiata Keita One of the presidents wasnt black. Not while our ancestors were enslaved.

  7. Sundiata Keita says:

    Ernest Bynum: please look up the story of John Hanson. peace

  8. yes the whole eposode of slavery that peculiar institution that they called a neccasary evil is a lingering spell, i mean for the slave and the slave master to pray to the same tGod is a crule hoaxe.

  9. Chawl Shepard says:

    Christian preaching was commonly used to beat down the spirit of the enslaved people, that even God approved. As two quick and very commonly quoted verses:

    1 Peter 2:18 ESV

    Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

    Ephesians 6:5 ESV

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,

  10. Chawl Shepard No loving god would do that to a people only a evil selfish people who use religion as a tool to justicefy enslaving a whole people.

  11. John Hanson (d. c. 1860) was an African American associated with the American Colonization Society, which sought to relocate black Americans in Liberia. In Liberia, he served as a senator from Grand Bassa County.
    Senator Hanson has recently been confused with an earlier John Hanson, a white politician from Maryland who served as President of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. According to this urban myth, John Hanson of Maryland was actually black, and also the first President of the United States. Internet sites promoting the hoax use the photograph of Senator John Hanson of Liberia to support the claim, even though photography had not yet been invented when the earlier John Hanson was living.

  12. Red Cinnamon says:

    I wonder why Abraham Lincoln not on here.

  13. What were blacks in Africa? You guessed it, they were slaves, but slaves of Arabs and of other blacks, so that was okay.

  14. I wonder how you can say that, when there were African Kings and Queens. Someone asked a question " if it were'nt for slavery where would you be. I say I would be a Nubian Queen. I have read that Africans sold Africans. That is the way of our world, always trying to be above others. So naturally. But there were villagers who lived free. That's what I believe. Niether of us were there.

  15. Johnny Boyd-el Realize that people take the word of God and use It in whatever way it pleases them.

  16. Jerline Jackson There's no word of God. Was you there when "God" said these words? Provide me more evidence to say "God" said…..yes people have used religion to justify their actions, but when Black people accept the doctrine of the slave master, then you got to know you're brainwashed. I don't know if you subscribe to a particular religion, but we were not Christians in Africa.

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