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IL GOP Chair Don Tracy’s Memo Reveals His Flawed Understanding of Our Party’s Founding

Thomas Jefferson's gravesite at Monticello. (Source: Thomas Jefferson Foundation)

By Illinois Review

In what may be a real window into embattled IL GOP Chair Don Tracy’s misunderstanding of the GOP, Tracy writes in a section of this past Friday’s Chairman’s Memo that “Republicans are the party of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr.” This flawed understanding of the issues that led to the Republican Party’s founding shines light on Tracy’s lack of appreciation for the role diversity played in the GOP’s founding.

The Republican Party’s roots trace back to the beginning of the anti-slavery movement in 1854. Abraham Lincoln, who had been a Whig, saw the viability of the Republican Party when his political rival Sen. Stephen Douglas, D, drafted the Kansas-Nebraska Act, expanding slavery into western territories.

On March 4, 1861, Lincoln would become the first Republican president, who on January 1, 1863, issued Proclamation 95, better known as the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order ending slavery.

While Martin Luther King Jr. often spoke of Lincoln in his speeches and delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., he was neither a Republican nor a Democrat. In an interview at Bennett College, King stated “I don’t think the Republican Party is a party full of the almighty God, nor is the Democratic Party. They both have weaknesses. And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.”

Diametrically opposed to Lincoln’s views were that of Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party, the predecessor to today’s Democratic Party. Jefferson, the third U.S. President, was a slave owner whose more than 600 slaves only gained their freedom after his death.

Jefferson had a relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings, with whom they had six children, four of whom reached adulthood and three of which joined “White Society” after being emancipated only after Jefferson died.

Houston news anchor Shannon LeNier claims sixth-generation descendancy to Jefferson’s fourth adult child who declined to join “White Society,” rather continuing to live out the African American heritage of his mother, Sally Hemmings. Even still to this day, those Black descendants are not permitted to be buried in Jefferson’s cemetery at Monticello.

The Republican Party is the party of diversity. The appreciation of diversity is hardwired into the GOP’s anti-slavery founding.

While it’s hard to believe that the Chair of the IL GOP would be so clueless as to claim Thomas Jefferson as a Republican, it was not that long ago that Don Tracy was running for public office as a Democrat. And perhaps he still is. We recently reported that in the height of the pandemic, Don Tracy’s family-owned business, Dot Foods, was donating thousands of dollars to Biden’s presidential campaign.

Illinois Review has called on Don Tracy to step down as IL GOP Chair. Whether he continues as Chair may be decided at the state central committee meeting this Saturday, December 10, at 10 am at the Bolingbrook Golf Club.


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