As someone who learned the names of the presidents before the alphabet (absolutely true story) there has been nothing in my life I’ve enjoyed more that studying presidential history.
I can still name the presidents in order 1 to 46 pretty fast, acknowledging I’ve seen a few bright young children who are quicker.
What I realized a long time ago is that we’ve had some presidents who did some pretty evil things.
One of them is our 7th president, Andrew Jackson.
In late 2015, I wrote on this website: “I like the idea of replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. There’s nothing in law that says he has to stay there – in fact he replaced Grover Cleveland.”
After that article, then Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced his decision to remove Jackson and add a woman’s portrait on the $20 bill.
To me, it was a decision long over due.
Sure, Jackson broke up the “establishment” control of the electoral college.
He was a popular, loud and slightly obnoxious war hero who rode into the presidency on an anti-Washington platform.
He was also the first elected president from the Democratic Party.
But before you put him on the money, you have to look objectively at his actual record.
The policies of this Washington “outsider” actually created a nasty and corrupt policy of rewarding government jobs on partisan grounds.
Called the “spoils system” this became the ultimate game of “insider” who-you-know and what-you-owe hiring.
(This classic Thomas Nast cartoon to the left shows Jackson on a pig, which is standing on fraud, bribery, and spoils eating plunder.)
Jackson also hated the very foundation of our banking system.
In fact, he hated the very paper money that he’s now on.
His mistrust of banks contributed to the Panic of 1837, one of our nations worst economic meltdowns.
How does a president who created a great depression end up on the money?
But those are not the only reasons why I’ve never cared for our 7th president, although that is certainly enough.
Jackson was also a slave holder and racist with one hell of a temper.
And he signed one of the worst pieces of legislation in American history.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 is the (unbelievably) only major legislation which passed during Jackson’s eight years as president.
It was a cold and calculated law which made promises to Native Americans that the government did not fulfill.
In fact, the Cherokees’ forced exodus due to the law became notorious as the “Trail of Tears.”
Thousands of Native Americans died.
Any president who leaves a Trail of Tears should not be on the money.
To replace Jackson, The Obama treasury department announced Harriet Tubman, the 19th century abolitionist and humanitarian, would take his place starting in 2030.
It was a good decision and long overdue.
But alas, Obama left the White House and was replaced by Donald Trump.
You guessed it.
Trump is a huge Andrew Jackson fan.
After his inauguration, Trump said Jackson was his hero.
“They say my election was most similar to his,” said Trump. “He was a great general, and a great president.”
Soon after, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the Trump administration was delaying the new Tubman $20 bill.
In response, artist Dano Wall, created a 3-D stamp that can be used to superimpose a portrait of Tubman over Andrew Jackson’s on $20 bills.
Wall sold out of the stamps in record time.
“My goal is to get 5,000 stamps out there,” said Wall. “If there are 5,000 people consistently stamping currency, we could get a significant percent of circulating $20 bills [with the Tubman] stamp, at which point it would be impossible to ignore.”
Wall began manufacturing the stamps in 2017, soon after Trump took office.
Tubman, who escaped slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, helped lead hundreds of people to freedom along the Underground Railroad.
She was an amazing America who would represent our nation moving forward so much better than Andrew Jackson.
The next president should take his portrait out of the Oval Office, and get him off the money.