As my wife (our family historian) and I approach our golden wedding anniversary in just eight months' time, she has produced an interesting new slant on the much debated issue of apologising for slavery, in a short article which reveals that while many of my forebears suffered severe persecution at various times and in various places, at least one of them owned slaves (he was one of the early settlers in the newly founded American colony of Georgia). Descendant, therefore, of the victims of persecution but also of a one-time slave-owner, I am intrigued by Jane's highly topical question: who, if anyone, owes apologies to whom? You can read her short paper on the subject by clicking here.
The number of people, especially perhaps Americans, alive today whose ancestors include at least one slave-owner and possibly more, must be very large indeed. The descendants of my single slave-owning ancestor who are now alive and traceable must run into many hundreds. Multiply this by all the numerous slave-owners in the days when slavery was regarded as part of the natural order, and you arrive at a truly enormous population of potential apologisers. Those alive today, of all nationalities, some of whose ancestors suffered persecution, must constitute an even larger population of those entitled to receive apologies. People who, unlike me, live in happy ignorance of the seamier side of their family histories should perhaps count themselves lucky. Anyway, please read "Slavery and persecution: who should apologise to whom?" and make up your own mind about the answer. Don't allow yourself to be unduly distracted by the numerous links in J's article to further fascinating information on the many topics mentioned.
I should of course add that I'm very sorry.