One of Charlottesville, Virginia’s most famous residents no longer has a holiday named for him, after the city council voted to end its celebration.
The Charlottesville City Council voted 4-1 Monday to remove April 13, the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, as a paid holiday. The issue came to a vote because the third president of the United States was a slaveowner. The meeting’s public comment period was met with demonstrators accusing Jefferson of being both a racist and a rapist.
Jefferson, who was born and died in the city, authored both the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. He also founded the University of Virginia, which remains in Charlottesville to this day. In addition to owning slaves, those against the holiday cited his alleged children with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves.
In lieu of celebrating Jefferson’s legacy, the council voted unanimously to recognize March 3 as “Liberation and Freedom Day,” which marks the day Union cavalry under the command of Gen. Philip Sheridan marched into Charlottesville and occupied it.