Executive committee members of the South Carolina Democratic Party have decided to remove the names of former presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from the party’s annual fundraising dinner.
The party’s Executive Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to rename the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Both presidents were Southern plantation owners who owned slaves.
“Though Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson did play integral roles in the institutional development of the Democratic Party, our Executive Committee members—being careful not to judge historical figures solely by modern standards and thus taking full account of the range of views on the issue of slavery and treatment of Native Americans in American society during that era—decided that our annual dinner should be a reflection of the modern Democratic Party,” party chairman Jaime Harrison said in an email to party followers.
September 30 will be the final dinner to have the name, which dates back to the early 20th Century. The name is not unique to South Carolina — most state Democratic parties used it at some point. However, the Palmetto State’s event is one of the better-known nationwide due to national political figures who often use it to take advantage of the state’s early presidential primaries.
Jefferson was not a Democrat in the modern sense of the word, although he was the first president from its early predecessor Democratic-Republican Party. Jackson, who was born along the North Carolina-South Carolina border, is considered to be the first man elected from the “modern” Democratic Party in 1828. However, Jackson is controversial among contemporary Democrats for his support of the Indian Removal Act that forcibly relocated Cherokee and Creek tribes to present-day Oklahoma.
“As we take this step, let us redouble our efforts to elect candidates and enact policies that embody the truth proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence and updated the Seneca Falls Convention; all men are created equal,” Harrison concluded in his email.
The party’s executive committee will discuss a new name in the coming weeks.