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Apology lite: Truths, doubts, and reconciliations in the Senate’s guarded apology for slavery
The United States Senate formally apologized for slavery on June 18, 2009. This followed an apology made nearly a year earlier, on July 29, 2008, by the House of Representatives. Unlike the House apology, the Senate apology contains additional limiting language, specifically stating that it cannot be used as a ground for monetary compensation. The apology is nearly nine hundred words, with a preamble which goes into some detail about the wrongness of slavery, admitting that slaves were “brutalized, humiliated, [and] dehumanized.” It then states:
(1) APOLOGY FOR THE ENSLAVEMENT AND SEGREGATION OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS.—The Congress . . . apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws . . . .
(2) DISCLAIMER.—Nothing in this resolution—
(A) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or
(B) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.