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New Hampshire Lawmaker Claims Slavery Was About Economics, Not Racism: ‘Owning Slaves Doesn’t Make You Racist’

A New Hampshire legislator is facing criticism after he claimed in a since-deleted Facebook message that slavery was about economics and not racism.

Republican state Rep. Werner Horn initially made the remarks July 16 as a response to a Facebook question posed by former state House member Dan Hynes.

“If Trump is the most racist president in American history, what does that say about all of the other presidents who owned slaves,” Hynes asked in a post obtained by USA Today.

Horn responded, “Wait, owning slaves doesn’t make you racist.”

Werner Horn poses in Facebook photo
Rep. Werner Horn, of New Hampshire, is facing criticism after he claimed on Facebook July 16 that slavery was about economics and not racism. (Photo by Facebook via the Werner D Horn for State Office page)

“I guess not,” Hynes responded Tuesday. “Which is surprising since everything else makes someone a racist.” 

Horn then added, “It shouldn’t be surprising since owning slaves wasn’t a decision predicated on race but on economics. It’s a business decision.”

The lawmaker later expanded on his beliefs in an interview with the Union Leader.

“Slavery later on in the American South was not about the color of the skin of the slaves but their value as workers on the plantations,” he told the newspaper.

“The U.S. had abolitionists since the start, people who felt slavery wasn’t moral but they weren’t enslaving black people because they were black,” he added. “They were bringing in these folks because they were available. What they were looking at was whether they were fit enough to do the demanding work that needed to be done. It was an economic reality.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley condemned the comments to the Union Leader mainly because they’ve come up in an attempt to defend President Donald Trump.

Trump started sending a string of racially charged Twitter messages July 14 aimed at minority Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

He told them in the Twitter message to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

While several government officials have condemned Trump’s statements, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has been mum on the topic.

“Sununu’s silence on Trump’s racism has sanctioned this kind of behavior from his Republican Party and has permitted comments like these with impunity. It’s disgusting,” Buckley told the Union Leader.

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