Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) claimed Tuesday that the United States "didn't inherit slavery from anybody," but rather "created" the institution itself.
In a speech from the Senate floor, Hillary Clinton's 2016 running mate called for the destruction of the "structures of racism" intentionally created and sustained by U.S. lawmakers over the last few centuries.
"The United States didn't inherit slavery from anybody. We created it. It got created by the Virginia General Assembly and the legislatures of other states," Kaine said. "It got created by the court systems in colonial America that enforced fugitive slave laws."
The Virginia senator's remarks drew immediate criticism, with some pointing out that slavery existed all over the world, as well as in the Americas, since the dawn of human civilization.
Kaine later attempted to clarify his remarks.
"There was no law mandating slavery on our shores when African slaves came ashore in 1619," Kaine said. "Did slavery already exist in the world? Of course. But not in the laws of colonial America at the time."
Historians have documented that almost a century before English settlers introduced slavery to the colonies, the Spanish had already imported black slaves into what would become the southern colonies.
Worldwide, slavery is seen in the history of nearly all cultures and predates written records.