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It’s ClemenTime to take Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill

graphic by Jena English
graphic by Jena English

And though I like to tell people that I know everything there is to know about the history of our country, my knowledge is filled with gaps thanks to the passing of time. However, there are some things I’ll never forget such as: TVA stands for Tennessee Valley Authority, John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry may have been a turning point in American history (I would argue yes), Jack Kerouac was a beatnik, The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote and Andrew Jackson was a BAD guy.

And this bad guy is the one who currently sits on our $20 bill—the one who should be removed immediately and replaced with a woman. See, Andrew Jackson was actually the worst. To begin with, he implemented the “gag rule,” which was a law to prevent sending anti-slavery literature through the mail. That’s a federal crime and a direct violation of our First Amendment, as well as horribly racist. Additionally, Andrew Jackson was a slaveholder, as well as responsible for the Trail of Tears: the relocation of Native American tribes that led to thousands of deaths along the way.

There are many presidents who do not deserve to be honored on our paper currency and Andrew Jackson tops the list. Jackson didn’t even support paper currency, preferring coins instead, and he definitely didn’t support a national banking system. Therefore, not only is it upsetting that the twenty portrays such a bad guy, but he wasn’t even a fan of paper money in the first place.

And now this leads me to the second part of my argument. There is not a single woman on any of the current U.S. dollars. Not a one. It is true that several women are featured on one dollar coins, but I think it’s ridiculous that Jackson gets to keep his spot on the $20 bill when there are so many American women who deserve such an honor. It’s true that no women have served as presidents, which is a whole other problem, but neither did Alexander Hamilton who currently sits on the ten. Hamilton, however, did something beneficial in setting up the central banking system. Seeing as the restrictions for who appears on our money does not limit it to only presidents, the $20 bill should feature someone who actually did something for this country, especially if that person is a woman like Harriet Tubman, Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks or Susan B. Anthony to name a few. Those women are real role models and amazing individuals. I still remember learning about Harriet Tubman in second grade and being so inspired. Reading about how hard her childhood was and what she proceeded to do is truly mind-blowing and there are few people who I have as much respect for. All of those women were so tough and courageous and determined to stand for what was right, that it seems only natural that the United States should honor their contributions to this country. Women have value too and it’s about time our currency begins to recognize that.

When I was little I read in Jon Stewart’s book, Earth, that on the two dollar bill there were a bunch of presidents hanging out and having a party. It even said one of them was passed out on the couch. I believed this for years. It appeared to me that, as far as who was featured on our bills, only men were given the privilege and felt pretty superior about it. And, to my elementary school mind where “no girls allowed” was a rather common phrase, it made sense that the two dollar bill was just another place where no girls were allowed. I hope that in the not-so-distant-future Jackson will be taken off the twenty and replaced by a woman who deserves it. And maybe then the next generation of little girls will not believe that being featured on dollar bills is an exclusive all-male club.