Ugh. Get off my money!
Here is the most sensible idea I’ve heard in a long time: kick Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with someone who has actually changed America for the better. Preferably a woman.
That’s the idea behind the Women on 20s campaign, a nonprofit pushing to get a woman on the $20 bill. So far, 60,000 people have voted in the nonprofit’s final poll of hypothetical choices for the twenty: Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Wilma Mankiller are all top choices. “Though all these women and many more deserve to be honored, the winner will be a symbol of what we hope are greater things to come,” Women on 20s Director Susan Ades Stone told ABC News.
There are many women in American history who are vastly more worthy role models for Americans than the man whose greatest legacy is the Indian Removal Act—the legal justification for the Trail of Tears, which led directly to the deaths of 4,000 Cherokee people. Andrew Jackson has his supporters, of course, but his life and politics shouldn’t represent American values: In addition to forcibly removing thousands Native Americans from their homes, Jackson also proudly owned slaves and got rich off their labor.
Booting Jackson off the $20 would definitely be an uphill battle. But last summer, Obama expressed mild support for putting a woman on currency after a young girl wrote to him about the idea. “She gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff, which I thought was a pretty good idea,” said the president. Yep. Sounds good to me, too.
Harriet Tubman would be a much better fit on the $20 — image by Women on 20s
Why is Andrew Jackson on the twenty, anyway? That’s a mystery. I’m not exaggerating—historians actually do not know why the Treasury Department put Andrew Jackson on the bill in 1928. The Treasury didn’t keep any records documenting the reasons behind the choice and the choice seems rather arbitrary, given that Jackson didn’t even want the country to use paper money. A historical museum devoted to preserving and teaching Jackson’s legacy told The Washington Post that the museum “did a lot of research” on the question but came up with nothing. I can’t think of a good reason to keep him there, either.
Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media’s online editor. H/t to Nickey Robo for telling me about this campaign.