Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia faced the fury of online backlash and ridicule after claiming that the United States “created slavery.”
Kaine made the bizarre accusations during a speech Tuesday on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
“The first African Americans sent into the English colonies came to Point Comfort in 1619. They were slaves, they had been captured against their will, but they landed in colonies that didn’t have slavery — there were no laws about slavery in the colonies at that time,” Kaine explained.
“The United States didn’t inherit slavery from anybody. We created it,” he continued.
“It got created by the Virginia General Assembly and the legislatures of other states,” he added. “It got created by the court systems in colonial America that enforced fugitive slave laws.”
So many people on social media derided Kaine for his statement that his name was trending nationally Tuesday evening on Twitter.
“Many warring Native American tribes captured each other & enslaved the survivors, well before the arrival of Europeans. Tribes later enslaved Africans, establishing slave codes to protect ‘property rights.’ Tim Kaine knows this. But he’d prefer we just hate America instead,” responded conservative Democrat Bryan Dean Wright.
“We laugh at Tim Kaine but I guarantee if you polled the protesters, 90 percent would say slavery was invented by white people a few hundred years ago. Remember that nobody who attended public school received anything resembling a real history education,” replied commentator Matt Walsh.
“Senator Tim Kaine proved his historical ignorance beyond any reasonable doubt today by claiming that the United States of America created the slavery. About 20 seconds of research would’ve proven that wrong, but The Democrats have a race war to incite! Facts be damned!” responded Errol Webber, a black Republican candidate from California who is running for Congress.
Others, like Business Insider politics reporter John Haltiwanger, defended Kaine.
“Tim Kaine’s words are being widely taken out of context and misinterpreted. He was highlighting how the US codified slavery/maintained it over centuries. But dunking on people on Twitter apparently more important to many folks than having honest conversations about US history,” he tweeted.
Kaine’s office tried to clarify his comments in a statement to National Review.
“There was no law mandating slavery on our shores when African slaves came ashore in 1619. Did slavery already exist in the world? Of course. But not in the laws of colonial America at the time,” the statement read. “We could have been a nation completely without the institution. But colonial legislatures and courts, and eventually the U.S. legal system, created the institution on our shores and maintained slavery until the 13th Amendment. As I said, we didn’t inherit it. We chose to create it.”
Here’s the video of Kaine’s full speech:
Tim Kaine makes passionate Senate speech calling for dismantling of racism in United States