As the presidential buzz continues to grow around the candidacy of California Senator Kamala Harris, interest is also growing around her little-known Jamaican heritage. It is believed that the ancestor of Kamala Harris was the infamous white slave owner in Jamaica, Hamilton Brown. Although fact-checkers have already branded it as fake news, we provide here irrefutable proof that Kamala’s ancestors were slave owners.
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Were Kamala Harris’ ancestors Slave Owners?
It is being said Kamala Harris is directly descended from one of the largest slave-owners in Jamaica, Hamilton Brown – there is a even a town named after him, Brown Town. So doesn’t it follow she’s a beneficiary, not a victim, of slavery?
But, does this statement hold any truth?
Kamala Harris is directly descended from one of the largest slaveowners in Jamaica, Hamilton Brown—there is a even a town named after him, Brown Town. So doesn’t it follow she’s a beneficiary, not a victim, of slavery?
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) August 12, 2020
Snopes did a lengthy piece debunking the claim and concluding it as “unproven” – which according to them means – “insufficient evidence exists to establish the given claim as true”. Similar fact-checks were also published by other outlets.
So, here is the evidence.
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Kamala Harris’ ancestor Hamilton Brown was an infamous Slave Owner
Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris is descended from Irish slave owner Hamilton Brown, the namesake of Brown’s Town in Jamaica, who recruited massive numbers of Irish migrants to Jamaica to work on his sugar plantations after the British empire abolished slavery.
Reflections of a Jamaican Father
In a piece published in Jamaica Global Online titled Reflections of a Jamaican Father, Kamala Harris’s father Donald J. Harris reflects about their past. He writes:
My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town) and to my maternal grandmother Miss Iris (née Iris Finegan, farmer and educator, from Aenon Town and Inverness, ancestry unknown to me).
Looking back now I can say, with certainty and all due credit to Miss Iris, that it was this early intimate exposure to operation of the sugar industry at the local level of small-scale production with family labour and free wage-labour, coupled with my growing curiosity about how these things came to be, that led me, once I started reading about the history of Jamaica, to a closer study of the sugar industry. I came then to understand its origin as a system of global production and commerce, based on slave labour, with Jamaica as a key component of that system from its very start.
Hamilton Brown owned more than 100 slaves
According to the Jamaican Family Search Hamilton Brown owned more than 100 slaves on several plantations:
“Hamilton Brown owned several plantations over the years 1817 to about 1845. According to the 1818 Almanac which can be found on this site, (Jamaican Family Search), he was the owner of Minard (128 slaves) which he must have acquired from its previous owner (John Bailie) in 1815 or later.
The number of slaves on this estate approximates the number of slaves in one of the registers attributed to his ownership (124 slaves). The other register (86 slaves) cannot be assigned to any estate, although he is listed in Almanacs for subsequent years as owning several, (Antrim, Grier Park, Colliston, Little River, Retirement and Unity Valley) listed in Almanacs for subsequent years as owning several, (Antrim, Grier Park, Colliston, Little River, Retirement and Unity Valley).”
Here is a full accounting of the slaves owned by Hamilton Brown, according to the National Archives in London, as of June 28, 1817 in the parish of St. Ann in Jamaica.
Hamilton Brown officially swore to owning slaves
Hamilton Brown officially swore to the authenticity of this record, stating:
“I Hamilton Brown do swear that the above list and return consisting of two sheets is a true perfect and complete list and return, to the best of my knowledge and belief in every particular therein mentioned of all and every slaves possessed by me as owner, considered as most permanently settled, worked and employed in the Parish of Saint Ann on the twenty Eight day of June One thousand Eight Hundred and Seventeen without fraud, deceit or evasion So help me God.
Sworn before me this twenty fourth day of September 1817”
Legacy of British Slave ownership
Hamilton Brown’s slave owning shows up in other records, as well. According to University College London’s project “Legacies of British Slave-ownership:
“Hamilton Brown was instrumental in the importing of several hundred labourers and their families from Ireland to Jamaica between 1835 and 1840. The project describes Hamilton Brown as a “Major attorney and resident slave-owner in Jamaica.”
Based on the evidence above, the claim turns out to be true.
Claim: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is descended from the 19th-century slave owner Hamilton Brown.
Misinformation circulated by: DAN MACGUILL at Snopes
Do you rely on Snopes reporting? Let us know in the comments below.
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