Connecticut Democrats are dumping Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson from their annual fundraising dinner in response to the ongoing Confederate flag controversy. State Democratic party leaders voted unanimously to scrub the two famous Americans’ names due to the fact that they owned slaves.
At the most recent Jefferson Jackson Bailey June dinner, Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel P. Malloy advocated for changing the name, and said according to the Connecticut Post, “So I have a better name. How about the Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, human rights, LGBT rights dinner? How about that for a name?”
The event’s name was also getting pressure to change from the NAACP. Scott X. Esdaile who is the head of the Connecticut chapter said according to the Connecticut Post, “I would applaud the current leaders in Connecticut in making the symbolic first step and striving to right the wrongs of the past.”
On Wednesday, party leaders finally opted to make the change, dropping Jefferson and Jackson from the dinner’s name while keeping the reference to John Bailey, who was a state party leader in the mid-twentieth century.
“As members of the Democratic Party, we are proud of our history as the party of inclusion. Democrats have led the way on civil rights, LGBT equality and equal rights for women,” the Democratic committee resolution said according to the Hartford Courant. “It is only fitting that the name of the party’s most visible annual event reflects our dedication to diversity and forward-looking vision.”
Both Jackson and Jefferson have been historically connected to the origins of the Democrat Party. At one time, both men were seen as champions of the American people who exemplified self-government and individual liberty. However, there are now progressives who challenge the idea that these men had anything to do with the modern incarnation of America’s left-wing party and claim there is a stronger case to be made that they should really be identified with Republicans.
Though both men owned slaves, Jefferson and Jackson are often associated with the principles and ideas that lead to the “peculiar” institution’s extinction in the United States. The Declaration of Independence and Jefferson’s general principles were used as a line of attack against those who supported human bondage.
Abraham Lincoln wrote for a Jefferson birthday celebration in Boston in 1859:
All honor to Jefferson–to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.
Additionally, Jackson stood for the Union in the Nullification crisis in the 1830s, famously toasting at a Jefferson birthday dinner, “Our Federal Union: it must be preserved.” The Union war effort lead to the eradication of the Confederacy and the immediate extinction of slavery in the United States during the 1860s.