Why a woman should replace Andy Jackson on the $20

After reading the NYT article on how an Orthodox Jewish woman got out of her miserable arranged marriage, I went on to Gail Collins, a god in my non-fundamentalist pantheon.

And Gail came through with this column: A Woman’s Place Is on the $20 – NYTimes.com. Which begins, in Gail’s mordantly cheerful way, with:

You may have heard that there’s a movement afoot to kick Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with a woman. Finally, we’ve got a current event that’s not depressing.

I can add some yes! to the cause.

If you, like me, have ever traveled through Tennessee, you have communed with Andy, maybe at his grand plantation, the Hermitage, outside of Nashville. Very nice.

Funny thing, though. The web site (linked above) for “The People’s President” leaves out one important site you can visit at the Hermitage: the grave of Jackson’s personal slave (I’m not sure how to write that) who, you are informed with touching (southern) sentiment, was so loyal to that People’s President he asked to be buried near his, um, master.

I visited the Hermitage in 1990 or so. Have the curatorial staff discovered since then that when I stood at that grave I was cursing, not cheering their prez?

And this is putting aside further disses to Andy’s reputation, which Gail Collins sketches in her marvelous column when she discusses the eager debate about which woman should be on the $20:

The Native American issue looms large when it comes to replacing Jackson, who sent the Cherokee Nation on the Trail of Tears. Lately, Stone said, she and Howard have decided that when they announce their three top vote-getters and ask people to pick a winner, they’re going to add a fourth option: Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. (“People felt it would be poetic justice.”)

It was not only the Cherokee Nation who were driven out of the fertile, blissful land they had occupied for who knows how long. It was the tribes known, collectively (and with massive, ugly condescension), as the Five Civilized Tribes.  (They had schools and knew how to read and govern and wore trousers and hats and, you know, white guy stuff like that.)

You’ll notice if you click on the Five Civilized Tribes link, their museum is in Oklahoma–the only reason I can think of off the top of my head for the continuing existence of Oklahoma. The reason the museum is in Oklahoma is because Andy Jackson lied, cheated, conned, killed and drove the five tribes off their ancestral land in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, in a forced march that came to be known as the Trail of Tears, so that Jackson, i.e., the United States, could seize the valuable land for the One Uncivilized White Tribe, i.e., those “people” for whom Jackson was president.

A rotten guy, Andy Jackson, in the good ole tradition of rotten white southerners who owned “loyal” slaves. Can’t think of a better person to be erased from American currency and replaced by a woman.


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