RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Two Virginia state senators both claim an ancestral connection to one of the nation's founding fathers.
Not Thomas Jefferson, the revered Virginian, but his arch-nemesis Alexander Hamilton, the brash New Yorker whose meteoric rise from obscurity to power was cut short in a fatal duel with Jefferson's vice president, Aaron Burr.
The story of how Sens. Chap Petersen and Donald McEachin both happen to claim kinship with Hamilton is a study in historical irony, family lore and racial pride.
The two hardly look like kinsmen. Petersen is white; McEachin is African-American.
For both lawmakers, claiming a connection to Hamilton is a matter of family pride.
In McEachin's case, the presumed ancestral link reflects a widespread and long-held belief in the African-American community that Hamilton had African blood.