Even Shorter Takes

by Fred Ray on June 26, 2017 · 3 comments

Indiana University Press is having a sale, which includes their Civil War books. Definitely worth a look.

We’ve heard a lot about removing statues and even references to American slave owners. Apparently even figures like Sam Houston are under the gun, even though Houston opposed secession and refused to have anything to do with the Confederacy.

So who was the last American president to have been a slave owner? I do not necessarily mean while in office, but at some point in his life.

UPDATE: Congratulations to commenters John Horn and James Epperson, who correctly named U.S. Grant as the last president to have been a slaveholder. Most people know that Robert E. Lee was a slaveholder, but not Grant. Interestingly enough, both men got their slaves the same way—by marriage. Both the Custis and Dent families held slaves. Neither man liked it and regarded it as a burden. Grant manumitted his in 1859, Lee on Jan. 2, 1863 (one day after the effective date of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation).

One question I don’t know the answer to, however, is what president was the last to have held slaves while in the White House. Perhaps our commenters can answer this one as well.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John Horn June 27, 2017 at 12:02 am

I read just the other day that it was Grant.

Reply

James Epperson June 27, 2017 at 8:45 am

The last man elected president to have owned a slave was Grant, who manumitted William Jones in 1859. The last President born in to a slaveholding family was Woodrow Wilson.

Reply

Josh Liller July 1, 2017 at 5:44 pm

“what president was the last to have held slaves while in the White House.”

Zachary Taylor

Reply

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