Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Joyce Appleby on the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

Joyce Appleby in The New York Times:


To the Editor:

Re “Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Will Be Renamed” (news article, Aug. 9):

The Iowa Democratic Party’s vote to change the name of the popular Jefferson-Jackson dinner to distance itself from the slaveholding of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson is actually a ploy to dissociate itself from American history.

George Washington held slaves. Shall we take him off the dollar bill? Should the Jefferson and Washington monuments in the District of Columbia be taken down?

The Capitol was built by slave labor. Can we distance ourselves from that? And what of all the places named after slaveholding founders?

Better to study our past in order to learn how and why we ended slavery than to engage in some kind of historical amnesia.

JOYCE APPLEBY
Taos, N.M.
The writer is professor emerita of history at U.C.L.A.