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Andrew Jackson has appeared on the $20 bill for the last 90 years.

Kick Andrew Jackson Off the $20 Bill!

Jillian Keenan
3/7/14

My public high school wasn’t the best, but we did have an amazing history teacher. Mr. L, as we called him, brought our country’s story to life. So when he taught us about the Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears, Andrew Jackson’s campaigns to force at least 46,000 Cherokees, Choctaws, Muscogee-Creeks, Chickasaws, and Seminoles off their ancestral lands, my classmates and I were stricken.

It was unfathomable that thousands of Native American men, women, and children were forced to march West, sometimes freezing to death or starving because U.S. soldiers wouldn’t let them bring extra food or blankets. It was hard to hear that the Choctaw Nation lost up to a third of its population on the death march. It was disorienting to learn that what amounted to ethnic cleansing had come at the insistence of an American president.

But then it was lunchtime, and we pulled out our wallets in the cafeteria. Andrew Jackson was there, staring out from every $20 bill. We had been carrying around portraits of a mass murderer all along, and had no idea.

Andrew Jackson engineered a genocide. He shouldn’t be on our currency.

Symbols matter. Many people, for example, are inspired by the symbolic implications of Jackson’s path to the presidency: He was born two weeks after his father’s death to a widowed immigrant mother and, despite his poverty and lack of education, reached the highest office in the land. That’s a powerful story. So is the more precise telling of how Jackson climbed the American socioeconomic ladder. 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?"

Ironically, the biggest supporter of any campaign to remove Jackson from the $20 bill might be Jackson himself. He was a fierce opponent of paper money and the central banking system, and would probably be horrified to see his face on our national currency. Leaving him on the bill as a form of mockery could be the best insult. But complicated historical slights don’t translate: His face on our money implies an honor that Jackson’s legacy doesn’t deserve. Worse, it obscures the horrors of his presidency.

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Troy Hendrickson
Troy Hendrickson
Submitted by Troy Hendrickson on
Jesus said render unto Caesar. I have given up all hope that this country will ever repent of it's sins, nor atone for them. Let them have their money, your peoples survival ultimately depends on rejecting all which the white men offer.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
So, who would be better? Every single President on Mt. Rushmore is guilty of the same thing (although perhaps to a lesser degree than Jackson). Why does it even have to be a President? Why not Geronimo, or Crazy Horse, or Chief Joseph? Why not George Washington Carver? Why not Anne Hutchinson or Joy Harjo for that matter? Why must we continue to idolize rich, White men in a country that is supposedly a melting pot?

bullbear's picture
bullbear
Submitted by bullbear on
In my opinion, no human image should be affixed to the U.S. dollar bills or coins. Not even U.S. government buildings should be no there such as the Lincoln or Washington memorial. The government was on the right track with placing the eagle and buffalo on them. There are plenty of different birds, fish and four-legged animals to choose from. Who knows? Maybe people would have greater regard for them and their well-being. BTW/ when are we going to do away with the penny that costs more to produce than its value?

CHarris360's picture
CHarris360
Submitted by CHarris360 on
Here's an image of my suggestion for a new $20 bill. I think it is beautiful! And honoring someone who really deserves it! Tatanka-Iyotanka, AKA Sitting Bull! http://www.flickr.com/photos/rancier/13067485864/

newworldman's picture
newworldman
Submitted by newworldman on
Forget any changes in this Euro-society. A political talking head on a recent Charlie Rose show made the comment that, besides the Native-American thing, he considered Andrew Jackson to have been the best president in history..."but," he added, "considering what he did to the Native Americans, that's like saying, 'but besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?'" These people do not care what Jackson did to the Native Americans. The wealth that they themselves have today is due directly to the theft of the land and resources from the Native Americans which was orchestrated by sociopathic monsters like Jackson. As was demonstrated by the debate of the Don Juan Onate sculpture in San Antonio, the Euro-Americans are all too willing to overlook the genocidal tendencies of their Eur-American "heroes" while venerating them. They are hopeless. Delusional and hopeless.

pidlezen's picture
pidlezen
Submitted by pidlezen on
better kick Jefferson off too... and Lincoln, and... Under Jefferson, more Indian removal treaties were signed than under Jackson. To paint Jackson this way is too 1 dimensional. He also haD Indian allies (Creeks) IN THE Indian wars AND EVEN TOOK AN ORPHAN Creek BOY TO LIVE AT HIS HOME, THE hERMITAGE. I've read his presidential letters.....If you want to remove presidents from money for mistreatment... got a lot of them to erase the REAL story is a lot more complex, including Cherokees who sold out their own tribe.... and even with notice, the many, many who refused to prepare to leave. The removal was terribly wrong, but this articles simplified telling of it does not tell the story
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