Bill O'Reilly to Michelle Obama: Slaves Who Built The White House Were 'Well-Fed And Had Decent Lodgings'

In her speech at the Democratic National Convention Monday night, First Lady Michelle Obama noted that White House had been built by slaves. It was an important moment, the first African-American first lady highlighing an often-overlooked portion of U.S. history most of us would rather forget.

"I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves," Mrs. Obama said in her keynote address. "I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn."

Enter Bill O'Reilly.

On the Fox News' host's Tuesday night show, O'Reilly offered his own fact check on Obama's statements, and as you'd expect, they veered into the uncomfortable territory of, "Yeah, they were slaves, but..."


Here's the transcript:

Finally tonight, Factor Tip of The Day. As we mentioned, Talking Points Memo, Michelle Obama referenced slaves building the White House in referring to the evolution of America in a positive way. It was a positive comment. The history behind her remark is fascinating. George Washington selected the site in 1791, and as president laid the cornerstone in 1792. Washington was then running the country out of Philadelphia.

Slaves did participate in the construction of the White House. Records show about 400 payments made to slave masters between 1795 and 1801. In addition, free blacks, whites, and immigrants also worked on the massive building. There were no illegal immigrants at that time. If you could make it here, you could stay here.

In 1800, President John Adams took up residence in what was then called the Executive Mansion. It was only later on they named it the White House. But Adams was in there with Abigail, and they were still hammering nails, the construction was still going on.

Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz.


I just can't get rid of that history teacher thing. You know what I'm talking about?


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