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Records: McCain Family Kept Slaves

February 16, 2000 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. John McCain’s ancestors owned as many as 52 slaves on their plantation in Mississippi, campaign officials confirmed Tuesday.

``I did not know that,″ McCain said, after being shown documentation by reporters for Salon, an online magazine.

The magazine gathered documents from the Carroll County, Mississippi area, including slave schedules from 1860 that list ``W.A. McCain″ as the owner.

Campaign press spokesman Todd Harris confirmed McCain’s comments Tuesday night.

McCain, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and former prisoner of war, declared the information ``fascinating″ and a surprise because he had always pursued his family history through the military.

He said he knew, for example, that William Alexander McCain had fought in the Civil War.

``I guess when you really think about it logically, it shouldn’t be a surprise,″ McCain told the magazine. ``They had a plantation and they fought in the Civil War, so I guess it makes sense.″