Over 1,700 United States congressmembers once enslaved Black people, according to a new database from The Washington Post.
The Post published Monday the first-ever comprehensive list of “every member of the U.S. Congress who enslaved Black people.” The outlet compiled their findings in a searchable database, concluding that 1,715 members were enslavers.
In order to create the list, The Post researched more than 5,500 Congress members by sifting through 18th and 19th century census records, wills, journal articles and plantation records, among other documents.
“This database helps provide a clearer understanding of the ways in which slaveholding influenced early America, as congressmen’s own interests as enslavers shaped their decisions on the laws that they crafted,” The Post wrote.
Lawmakers who owned human beings spanned political parties and states. While most slaveholding congressmembers were men, the first woman ever to serve in the Senate — Rebecca Latimer Felton — was a former slaveholder, suffragist and white supremacist, according to The Post.
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