There is an old joke: “If you would like to have your family tree researched, run for public office.” Indeed, in the next year and a few months, we can expect to see the ancestry of every presidential and vice-presidential candidate researched extensively. In fact, the ancestry of Barack Obama is the subject of a new article in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Political Editor Scott Fornek published a 5-page special report on Barack Obama's far-flung family tree. Among the ancestors Fornek highlighted, Obama's line includes a New England colonist who accused another of witchcraft and later stole from the governor's house. Another had two brothers killed by American Indians, who scalped one brother and kidnapped the other's daughter. Another ancestor was said to have been slain by pirates, and still another lost a son in the Civil War to pro-slavery bushwackers who torched the man's home and threw burning coals on his infant daughter. In addition, he is distantly related to Presidents Truman and Bush. All of that is on his mother's side. The story becomes even more interesting when looking at his ancestry on his father's side: four centuries ago, his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was a respected warrior and leader in eastern Africa.
Obama, who has seven half-brothers and half-sisters spread across more than 10,000 miles, has ancestors who were born in Kenya, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, according to the Sun-Times.
When introducing himself to the nation in his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech, Obama said he was "grateful for the diversity of my heritage."
"I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on earth is my story even possible," he told a packed convention hall in Boston.
You can read more about his interesting ancestry, including brief bios of many of his ancestors, at http://www.suntimes.com/news/548552,CST-NWS-otreemain09.article.