Friday, April 29, 2016

Harriett Tubman Replaces Andrew Jackson

Harriett Tubman

In the introduction for "a roundtable discussion on women, people of color, and the country's newest currency," the writer contrasted Andrew Jackson with Harriett Tubman.

Jackson was a slaveholder who infamously sent thousands of Cherokee Indians to their death along the Trail of Tears. Tubman was a slave who escaped and served as a spy for the Union during the Civil War, freeing other slaves using the Underground Railroad. The enslaver has been replaced by the slave, and the United States currency library just got one tick less male. 

Alexander Hamilton
Jackson was a late substitute for Alexander Hamilton, who may or may not have been saved by the Broadway musical bearing his name. Replacing Hamilton with Tubman would have been ironic because Hamilton was one of the few men on US currency who owned no slaves and hated slavery.

If being a slaveholder would have gotten you kicked off paper money, we would be replacing many of the nation's founding fathers. Consider those patriots honored on American currency.

Andrew Jackson
George Washington, who graces the one-dollar bill, was a slave owner as was Thomas Jefferson, on the two-dollar bill, and Andrew Jackson on the twenty. On the higher denominations, Ulysses S. Grant, on the fifty, and Benjamin Franklin on the one-hundred dollar bill also owned slaves. Adding to Franklin's suitability was the fact that his newspaper ran advertisements for slave sales. James Madison, whose face once graced the discontinued $5,000 bill, owned slaves. Woodrow Wilson, who supported eugenics, was slated to appear on never issued $100,000 bill. That leaves William McKinley on the $500 and Grover Cleveland on the discontinued $1,000 bill as two other non-slave owning presidents.

Abraham Lincoln did not own slaves and eventually championed freedom and equal rights for African Americans. However, he also supported the idea that Freedmen should be retuned to new colonies in Africa.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
There are so many women deserving of the honor attached to being placed on the currency. The list featured on is impressive. I would like to have seen two sets of currency printed with women and men sharing the spotlight. I would have chosen suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Candy Stanton to replace Andrew Jackson. How about a foursome of the first ladies of Civil Rights, Harriet Tubman, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks, on the hundred? On second thought, perhaps Tubman was the best choice for her work in Civil Rights and Women's Suffrage.

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