Ancestry.com Discovers President Obama Related to First Documented Slave in America
Research Connects First African-American President to First African Slave in the American Colonies
PROVO, UTAH – July 30, 2012 – A research team from Ancestry.com (NASDAQ:ACOM), the world’s largest online family history resource, has concluded that President Barack Obama is the 11thgreat-grandson of John Punch, the first documented African enslaved for life in American history. Remarkably, the connection was made through President Obama’s Caucasian mother’s side of the family.
The discovery is the result of years of research by Ancestry.com genealogists who, through early Virginia records and DNA analysis, linked Obama to John Punch. An indentured servant in Colonial Virginia, Punch was punished for trying to escape his servitude in 1640 by being enslaved for life. This marked the first actual documented case of slavery for life in the colonies, occurring decades before initial slavery laws were enacted in Virginia.
In the 372 years since, many significant records have been lost – a common problem for early Virginia (and the South in general) – destroyed over time by floods, fires and war. While this reality greatly challenged the research project, Ancestry.com genealogists were able to make the connection, starting with Obama’s family tree.
President Obama is traditionally viewed as an African-American because of his father’s heritage in Kenya. However, while researching his Caucasian mother, Stanley Ann Dunham’s lineage, Ancestry.com genealogists found her to have African heritage as well, which piqued the researchers’ interest and inspired further digging into Obama’s African-American roots. In tracing the family back from Obama’s mother, Ancestry.com used DNA analysis to learn that her ancestors, known as white landowners in Colonial Virginia, actually descended from an African man. Existing records suggest that this man, John Punch, had children with a white woman who then passed her free status on to their offspring. Punch’s descendants went on to be free, successful land owners in a Virginia entrenched in slavery.
An expert in Southern research and past president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, Elizabeth Shown Mills, performed a third-party review of the research and documentation to verify the findings.
“In reviewing Ancestry.com’s conclusions, I weighed not only the actual findings but also Virginia’s laws and social attitudes when John Punch was living,” said Mills. “A careful consideration of the evidence convinces me that the Y-DNA evidence of African origin is indisputable, and the surviving paper trail points solely to John Punch as the logical candidate. Genealogical research on individuals who lived hundreds of years ago can never definitively prove that one man fathered another, but this research meets the highest standards and can be offered with confidence.”
“Two of the most historically significant African Americans in the history of our country are amazingly directly related,” said Ancestry.com genealogist Joseph Shumway. “John Punch was more than likely the genesis of legalized slavery in America. But after centuries of suffering, the Civil War, and decades of civil rights efforts, his 11th great-grandson became the leader of the free world and the ultimate realization of the American Dream.”
annvic at another site said this in the comments to this story:
it's a possibility that the first enslaved African is the ancestor of the first Black President of the United States of America.
I can't even put into words how this makes me feel.
I had to think about for awhile, and there are a number of things that strike me.
1. I don't want hear nothing about this President ' not being vetted'. He, and his entire family, have been under the microscope, studied like lab rats, since the moment he won the Iowa caucus. Why else all these books about them, and the ' research' into the First Lady's ancestry, which revealed, DUH - that Michelle Obama had White folks in her family tree too...like this is a shock to any Black person in America.
2. I wrote in 2008, when certain folks were feeling so good about Barack Obama, and there was a straign of ' well, he doesn't REALLY have the Black experience, because he's not connected to all that ' BAD STUFF ' (you know, slavery, Jim Crow, etc) - looking at you, Chris Matthews who actually said it..I got more than a little chuckle about the revelation, when they first began to investigate the President's lineage, that, he was indeed, attached to all the ' BAD STUFF' - including the original birth defect of America (thank you Condi Rice) - SLAVERY..through his WHITE SLAVE-OWNING ANCESTORS. Yeah, that's part of all that ' Bad Stuff'. I thought they were gonna leave it alone- researching the President's ancestry- when their journey brought them to the SLAVE MASTER'S DOOR. I should have known better. which brings us to
3. the mere possibility that Barack Obama could be a descendent of one of the first SLAVES IN AMERICA, and that he got that through his WHITE MATERNAL LINE just makes me LMAO. For a country who pretends that the rainbow of shades of Black America in this country happened by magic, instead of the miscegenation that happened, pretty much a nanosecond after the landing of that first slave ship, this would be wicked to the nth degree indeed.
There's nowhere to go....nowhere to hide where the truth about America, and the stain of that original sin that was codified in the founding documents of this country. I've long thought that the President's mother and grandparents never got their due for their obvious good parenting of the President was two fold: a) they want to label his mother a 'race traitor', and b) if they had done such a good job raising him, what's he doing married to Michelle?
That the ' White' mother some cling to as to what made Barack Obama ' different' - like Black folks in America haven't known someone Black in their lives with White relatives - that SHE had African Ancestry - it just cracks me up. That Ann Dunham - ' race traitor' - was a descendent of the original American ' race traitors', and that all that looks ' WHITE' might not be 'WHITE' - which is upsetting to a whole lotta folks in this country.
Many have said that the election of Barack Obama as President exposed so much of America's underbelly, which is why he upsets so many corners of this country.
The racists in this country have to have a sad about this story, because all roads with the first Black President lead BACK TO AFRICA - the Black and White parts.