Two of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE’s (R-Ky.) ancestors owned a total of more than a dozen slaves, according to an investigation by NBC News completed shortly after McConnell spoke in opposition to reparations for the descendants of slaves.
Two of McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers, Richard Daley and James McConnell, owned at least 14 slaves, all but two of them women, in Limestone County, Alabama, NBC reported, citing countywide “Slave Schedules” published as part of the 1850 and 1860 censuses.
The records indicate most of both James McConnell’s and Daley’s slaves managed to escape, with the 1860 census showing that all of James McConnell’s slaves had fled, as had all but one of Daley’s. The 1850 census shows that four of Daley’s five slaves had escaped, suggesting he acquired more over the 10-year period.
“We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African American president,” he added.
Chuck Collins, a senior scholar at the liberal think tank Institute for Policy Studies, said McConnell’s ancestors demonstrate that despite slavery’s abolition, its economic benefits extended to later generations, whereas slaves were never compensated for their part in building that wealth.
“Smaller farms and plantations still benefited enormously from the unpaid labor of enslaved people, which likely helped them build multigenerational wealth,” Collins told NBC.
"I suspect with the mobility of the American population in the 20th and 21st centuries, most of us have ancestors that owned slaves, including many individuals who did not arrive until well after the Civil War," Louis Cain, professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago, told NBC. "The responsibility for what happened was collective, not individual."
McConnell's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.