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Weighing In On Demoting President Andrew Jackson

April 24, 2016

I have been intrigued over the past week to read varying perspectives on the decision to remove President Andrew Jackson from the $20 dollar bill.  While I am most pleased that Alexander Hamilton did not lose his place on currency–given his title role in the financial history of this nation along with being my favorite Founding Father (long before the current rage)–I must say there is a smile on my face when it comes to the replacement of Jackson.

While Jackson makes for great historical reading, and clearly brought a modern touch to politics in his day there has long been a revulsion from within concerning his male machismo.   He did not embody the type of inner core and personal traits that I find endearing.  I am most certain he would not make–if it were possible–a comfortable dinner guest in our home.

Then there is the tragic outcome for Cherokee Chief John Ross (a relative of mine on my mother’s side of the family) and his fellow members of the Indian tribe.   It was simply appalling what occurred and there is no way that Jackson should be allowed to have any honor on a bill for that reason alone.  His military tactics in the Battle of New Orleans were excessive and needlessly brutal.

His whole makeup seemed to convey anger and brute strength when a reasoned and more educated man of his time would have made far superior choices.

So it comes as no great loss to see him replaced on the bill.   As noted above I have been interested in seeing how others view the matter.  On the side of approval comes the words of Cynthia Tucker.

It’s no accident that Trump — who is among the “birthers” who insist President Barack Obama is not an American — leads the Republican presidential field while denouncing Mexican immigrants and denigrating Muslims. There is a substantial minority of white American voters who are threatened by the loss of numerical advantage, furious over the election of a black president, and resentful of the growing racial and ethnic diversity in American life.

Trump and his supporters have dominated the political narrative in this election season and ignited a civil war inside the Republican Party. They have panicked the Republican establishment. They have set off alarm bells in faraway capitals.

Yet the racially intolerant are losing the battle for primacy in the American story. They no longer dominate the nation’s culture or mythology, as the changes in the currency illustrate. 

A genuine American hero, she deserves the honor. As a young woman, she escaped the Maryland plantation that had enslaved her, and then made several trips back to assist others. Over a little more than a decade, she helped around 70 enslaved men and women find their way to freedom, traveling by night, using ingenious disguises and employing the hideouts established by the Underground Railroad.

On the opposite end of the political spectrum comes the harsh words of Pat Buchanan.

To remove his portrait from the front of the $20 bill, and replace it with Tubman’s, is affirmative action that approaches the absurd.

Whatever one’s admiration for Tubman and her cause, she is not the figure in history Jackson was.

Indeed, if the fight against slavery is the greatest cause in our history, why not honor John Brown, hanged for his raid on Harper’s Ferry to start a revolution to free the slaves, after he butchered slave owners in “Bleeding Kansas”? John Brown was the real deal.

In the dystopian novel, “1984,” Winston Smith labors in the Ministry of Truth, dropping down the “memory hole” stories that must be rewritten to re-indoctrinate the party and proles in the new history, as determined by Big Brother. Jack Lew would have fit right in there.

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