Allyne Caan / April 21, 2016

Jackson’s Trail of Tears

Gun-toting Republican to replace slaveholding Democrat on $20 bill.

Who would have thought that after more than a year of debate, speculation, and politically correct public demand, America would learn that a God-loving, gun-toting Republican woman would earn a spot on our nation’s currency? Of course, don’t say this too loudly lest the Obama Treasury Department realize what it just did and change its mind.

But it’s true. Harriet Tubman — whom History.com notes was sustained by two things: “the pistol at her side and her faith in God” — will grace a newly designed $20 bill, to be unveiled in 2030. There’s no question that Tubman’s heroic work leading slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad merits her image on our currency. But who’s getting the boot to make way for the Moses of her people? None other than our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, a Democrat.

Before any tears are shed for the military hero-turned commander in chief, consider that our greenbacks almost lost a patron saint, Alexander Hamilton, instead of someone who would have been appalled to find his face plastered to a federal bank note in the first place. Indeed, last year it seemed likely that Hamilton — who, aside from helping to write The Federalist Papers, stabilized America’s finances, basically founded Wall Street and strongly advocated for a central bank — would be the latest casualty of the demand that a woman get her money’s worth.

(On a side note, Martha Washington was on our currency in the 1800s, so Tubman won’t be the first woman to grace it.)

Instead, public pressure — no doubt bolstered by the success of Broadway’s “Hamilton” (after all, how can you watch our Founding Fathers rap on stage and not become a bit emotional?) — led to the decision to keep Hamilton and oust Jackson instead. Many will say “good riddance,” given that the slaveholding Jackson ignored the Constitution and Supreme Court to force the removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma by way of the Trail of Tears. Worse, he killed thousands of peaceable Native Americans and had a condescending attitude of using government to “civilize” those he didn’t kill.

Regardless, Jackson would likely be the first to demand his own removal from our national currency. For starters, in 1832, he vetoed the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States — a precursor to today’s Federal Reserve, which issues the very money Jackson’s mug now graces. His reason? The bank basically picked winners and losers — rewarding some at the expense of everyone else. In his veto message, Jackson explained that the central bank “enjoys an exclusive privilege of banking under the authority of the General Government, a monopoly of its favor and support. … Every monopoly and all exclusive privileges are granted at the expense of the public, which ought to receive a fair equivalent. The many millions which this act proposes to bestow on the stockholders of the existing bank must come directly or indirectly out of the earnings of the American people.”

Among Jackson’s main reasons for vetoing the central bank renewal was that it was not compatible with the Constitution or “consistent with the rights of the States or the liberties of the people.”

As political analyst Robert Tracinski argues, “Jackson was not primarily for the people and against the elites on Wall Street. He was for the people and against the elites in Washington, D.C.”

This perceived fight for the little guy became the building block of the once-noble Democrat Party. Unfortunately, today’s Democrats have forgotten what it takes to truly fight for the common man; namely, less government control.

So as America prepares to bid farewell to Jackson on the $20 bill, it’s not an altogether sad moment. The Treasury Department may be honoring him exactly as he would have liked.

And as for Tubman, how could we object to a brave, pistol-wielding abolitionist who said, “I always tole God, I’m gwine to hole stiddy on to you, an’ you’ve got to see me trou.”

In God We Trust, and pass the ammunition, indeed.

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