State and local Democrat organizations across the country have traditionally held annual “Jefferson-Jackson” fundraising dinners, named after two historical heroes associated with the early years of the party. Jefferson and Jackson, however, both owned slaves, and engaged in other troubling activities involving race. And so Democrats, in an intellectually immature fit of moral pique, are now jettisoning their own history by dropping the Jefferson-Jackson name from their annual dinners. In just the last few months, local Democrat organizations have now taken this step in several states.
Democratic parties around the country have long titled their annual dinners “Jefferson-Jackson,” but there has been a recent move away from that name. According to an article in The Atlantic and other news reports, at least four states — New Hampshire, Connecticut, Missouri and Georgia — have changed the name of their dinners. Party leaders in South Carolina, Iowa and Tennessee are also considering changes.
In addition to the four states listed above, Florida and Maine have also dropped the Jefferson-Jackson label from their annual meetings. The pending change in Tennessee is particularly significant since Tennessee is Andrew Jackson’s home state.
Every political movement needs heroes, but if Democrats are now unwilling to honor anyone tainted by racial discrimination, then most of the history of their party will offer up few worthy names. That’s because virtually every prominent Democrat in America until about 1960 supported either slavery or racial segregation. Consider just a partial list of the historical lowlights.
- 1865 sees the founding of the KKK, an organization described by eminent historian Eric Foner as “a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party.”
- 1868. Republicans in Congress pass the 14th Amendment, granting full citizenship to blacks. No Democrats vote in favor.
- 1915. Democrat President Woodrow Wilson, an out-and-out white supremacist, praises the film Birth of a Nation and holds a private screening in the White House. The film is a glorification of the KKK.
- 1922. An anti-lynching law proposed by Republican Rep. Leonidas Dyer of St. Louis, and endorsed by Republican President Warren Harding, passes the House but can’t overcome a Democrat filibuster in the Senate. In 1938, left-liberal icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt sides with Southern Democrats in opposing a similar bill. A 1947 anti-lynching bill is again blocked by Democrats in Congress, including future president Lyndon Baines Johnson.
- 1924. At the Democrat national convention in New York, a resolution condemning the KKK is proposed, but voted down by the delegates. One young delegate is so appalled by the vote that he quits the party and becomes a Republican. Sixteen years later that man, Wendell Willkie, becomes the Republican nominee for President of the United States.
- 1937. FDR appoints Hugo Black, a former KKK member, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Black’s legal resume includes serving as defense attorney for a Klansman accused of murdering a Catholic priest. After obtaining an acquittal, Black becomes a hero to the Klan.
- 1963. Bull Connor, a city Commissioner in Birmingham, orders the use of fire hoses and attack dogs against civil rights protestors. Connor was not just a Democrat; he was a member of the Democratic National Committee.
- 1981-1989. Senate Democrats elect and support as their leader Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia. As a young man, Byrd was not just a member of the KKK, but attained the rank of Exalted Cyclops and founded and recruited his own local KKK chapter.
But hey, that stuff occurred a long time ago, so maybe Democrats can find some suitable heroes among their more recent presidents and near-presidents, like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore.
In this respect, Democrats just need to look past the rumors that Carter’s father was a Klansman, and the fact that during his presidency his mother, Lillian Carter, was caught ‘watching’ a Klan rally in Georgia. Dems surely can also overlook the fact that Al Gore’s father voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and that Bill Clinton’s mentor, Senator William Fulbright, was a segregationist who voted against the Civil Rights Act.
Well, maybe there’s a reason why Florida Democrats chose not to rename their annual dinner for anyone. The function is now known as Leadership Blue Weekend.
Democrats–they promise to lead us all to a blue weekend.