Like a lightning rod out of the sky on a sunny summer day, we were not expecting to hear that Harriet Tubman may have been confirmed to replace former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, but it happened. And we are stoked because we are well-versed in Jackson’s past policies and values, and he wasn’t the best choice to begin with… But that’s another story.
According to Politico, one of their unnamed sources indicated that the U.S. Treasury decided to add Tubman to the $20 bill:
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Wednesday will announce plans to both keep Alexander Hamilton on the front of the $10 bill and to knock Andrew Jackson off the front of the $20 in favor of Harriet Tubman, sources tell POLITICO.
Lew is expected to roll out a set of changes that also include putting leaders of the women’s suffrage movement on the back of the $10 bill, and incorporating civil rights era leaders and other important moments in American history into the $5 bill. Also, Jackson isn’t getting completely booted off the $20 bill. He’s likely to remain on the back.
You know what? That’s fine he can stay on the back. But if you know your history, you’ll know why even having him on the front of the $20 bill was not really a good look to begin with. Here’s why (via Slate)
Jackson was the only president who worked as a slave trader, and he accumulated much of his fortune that way. In fact, Jackson later pursued his “Indian Removal” policies specifically so that the stolen lands could be used to expand cotton farming and slavery.
Even in historical context, our seventh president falls short. His racist policies were controversial even in his own time. After the Indian Removal Act only narrowly passed Congress, an 1832 Supreme Court ruling declared it unconstitutional. (Jackson ignored that decision.) In 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a passionate letter calling Jackson’s policies “… a crime that really deprives us as well as the Cherokees of a country, for how could we call the conspiracy that should crush these poor Indians our government, or the land that was cursed by their parting and dying imprecations our country any more?”
It is really a great day of reckoning for a number of people, including history buffs like us.