PHOTO: Obama with his mother Stanley Ann Dunham. The Kansas-born Dunham was distantly related to John Punch, an African who was enslaved for life in 1640 in colonial Virginia.
The first American slave begat the first black president.
A team of genealogists has discovered strong evidence that President Obama is the 11th great-grandson of America’s first documented African slave, Ancestry.com has announced.
Even more surprising, the family connection comes through Obama’s white mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, rather than his Kenyan father.
Ancestry.com said its team’s discovery that Dunham’s Virginia ancestors had actually descended from an African man prompted them to dig deeper into Obama’s African-American roots.
That man turned out to be John Punch, an indentured servant in Colonial Virginia who was enslaved for life in 1640 as a punishment for trying to escape. His life sentence marked the first documented case of African slavery - rather than indentured servitude - in the American colonies.
Ancestry.com said records suggest that Punch had children with a white woman, who inherited her free status. Some of their descendants passed as white, married into white families, and went on to be successful land owners in Virginia.
Eventually, that family produced Obama’s maternal grandmother, Madelyn Lee Payne, and then his mother.
Elizabeth Shown Mills, an expert in Southern genealogy, endorsed Ancestry.com’s conclusion, which was reached using records and DNA analysis.
“Genealogical research on individuals who lived hundreds of years ago can never definitively prove that one man fathered another, but this research meets the highest standards and can be offered with confidence,” she said in a statement.
Ancestry.com genealogists previously uncovered that Obama’s family tree has roots in both Ireland and Germany.
They also found that Obama is distantly related to a key supporter, billionaire Warren Buffett, and a chief critic, former vice presidential contender Sarah Palin.