Tag Archives: Old Hickory

Stay true to plans to put Tubman on the $20 bill

Hold on a second, Steve Mnuchin. Many of us thought the switch from Andrew Jackson to Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill was a done deal.

The U.S. secretary of the Treasury now says he’s thinking about it.


Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew got it done before he left office. He moved to take former President Jackson off the bill and replace it with Harriet Tubman, the heroic abolitionist who fought to end slavery in this country. It was hailed at the time of the announcement as historic for a couple of key reasons.

First, Tubman would be the first woman whose face would adorn U.S. currency. Second, and this arguably is the big one, she is the first African-American.

President Barack Obama signed off on the change. Many Americans cheered the change. Now it appears to be open for discussion.

“The No. 1 issue why we change the currency is to stop counterfeiting. So the issues of what we change will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes. I’ve received classified briefings on that. And that’s what I’m focused on for the most part,” Mnuchin said.

Is it just me or does that sound like he’s possibly tip-toeing around some secret issue?

I do hope Mnuchin isn’t backing away merely because this was an Obama administration initiative, or that the current president is seeking to curry favor with his “base,” which seems to detest anything associated with the name “Barack Obama.”

Tubman’s heroic efforts to end slavery should be honored. Meanwhile, Old Hickory owned slaves. Hmmm. One sought to end enslavement; the other was, well … you know.

Donald Trump offered his usual platitude during the 2016 campaign about Tubman. According to CNBC:

 I think Harrriet Tubman is fantastic.” He added: “I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill.”

While Trump complimented Tubman, he said at the time that he didn’t agree with replacing Jackson on the denomination. “I don’t like seeing it. Yes, I think it’s pure political correctness. Been on the bill [Jackson] for many, many years. And, you know, really represented somebody that really was very important to this country.

If you can figure out what candidate Trump was saying, then you’re far smarter than I am — which likely isn’t saying much.

Back to my original point: Don’t derail this change in the currency, Mr. Secretary. You can figure out the counterfeiting/security angle while staying true to your predecessor’s pledge to  honor a true American hero.

This old soldier just ‘faded away’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — General of the Army Douglas MacArthur once declared famously in a speech to Congress that “Old soldiers never die. They just … fade away.”

Another five-star Army general, Dwight Eisenhower, had his military rank restored after he left the presidency in 1961 and he preferred to be called “Gen. Eisenhower” in the years since he left the White House.

Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, is buried next to his wife, Rachel, in her beloved garden at The Hermitage, the former president’s home.

I was struck when I heard a docent at the site say that the Old Hickory much preferred his military rank over the commander in chief rank he held for eight years, from 1829 until 1837. Jackson was apparently prouder of his general’s rank than he was of president of the United States of America.

He was, after all, the “hero” of the Battle of New Orleans. His rag-tag forces were greatly outnumbered and outgunned by the British, but managed to score a victory over the Brits.

Jackson was thrust into the news in recent weeks, when one of his successors as president — Donald J. Trump — sought to suggest that Trump could have prevented the Civil War. Interesting, in that Jackson died 16 years before the nation’s bloodiest conflict even started.

Indeed, though, Jackson’s history as president is a good bit more checkered than his military history. He promoted the Manifest Destiny policy that called for the settlement — or the conquering — of the Old West. The “Trail of Tears” occurred on his watch as president. He was known as a “unionist,” and believed that federal policy should oversee states’ policy allowing slave ownership  — which is a curious contradiction, in that he owned slaves.

Whatever …

He is buried at The Hermitage under a tombstone that calls him “General Andrew Jackson.”

Old Hickory certainly did share the military ethos of two quite prominent successors. They were immensely proud of their service to their nation at war.


Tubman is a suitable symbol on the $20 bill


Move over, Old Hickory.

Harriet Tubman is going to become the well-deserved face on one U.S. currency bill.

It’s not that former President Andrew Jackson wasn’t a consequential man during his two terms in the White House. He does, however, have a checkered history. Yes he was a war hero.

However, the Trail of Tears got its name for good reason. Jackson was responsible for driving Native Americans from their land, causing the deaths of countless numbers of Cherokee citizens. Is that a legacy to make one proud? No.


Tubman’s contribution is quite different. She was a leader in the Underground Railroad that helped lead enslaved Americans to freedom. She was a tireless fighter for African-Americans’ rights at a time when such advocacy put its champions — such as Tubman — at enormous risk of death.

Old Hickory will be continue to have his face on the back of the $20 bill. Tubman, though, is going to be on he front side.

In a related matter, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also announced that one of his predecessors, Andrew Hamilton, will remain on the $10 bill. Good call there.

As for the $5 bill, do not even think about replacing Honest Abe Lincoln with anyone else. My goodness, the 16th president’s face is carved into Mount Rushmore.