The Smithsonian Institute is normally a reputable source for information; however, when they rely on freelance writers for stories, they put their reputation at risk, such as with this story. Freelance journalist Kat Eschner wrote the story. She has a master’s degree in journalism, but from what I can tell no training in history. She makes the claim that John Casor was “the first person to be arbitrarily declared a slave for life in the U.S.”
That is completely false. It’s related to the bogus claim that Anthony Johnson, an African-American, was the first slave owner in the United States. I previously blogged about this here. Ms. Eschner doesn’t list her sources for this article, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we found some neoconfederates at the bottom of it.
I’m very disappointed in Smithsonian.com for the phony history they allowed to be published on their site.