Point, Counterpoint: Harriet Tubman on the Twenty Dollar Bill? Our Columnists Weigh in!

Jimmy "Labs" Labriola, Enforcer

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Jimmy “Labs” Labriola, never one to shrink from giving his opinion, leads things off:

Within the last few years in office, the Obama Administration decided to put Harriet Tubman, who had an important role in the Underground Railroad. As an escaped slave herself, Tubman went back into slave ridden areas with others to help slaves escape. Making 19 trips, Tubman got 300 slaves out of the hands of their slavers. Obviously a good candidate for an award, but not for her face on any currency. All of those on bills, and even coins have made a significant difference in the country. Washington and his obvious contributions, Lincoln, who fought against a seceding country and for the rights of slaves. Hamilton who established the National Bank, as well as many other great accomplishments. And stopping at Jackson, on the disputed 20 dollar bill. Jackson was a distinguished General who held the important port of New Orleans during the Battle of New Orleans that took part in the War of 1812. As well as his military experience, Jackson secured the Florida territory for the country. Despite his achievements, Jackson is only remembered for his connection with the Trail of Tears, which was not the worst idea, but the way it was carried out made it a true tragedy resulting in the death of many Natives, which I can easily agree was a terrible event caused by Jackson. His connection with that event is likely the main reason his spot on the 20 dollar bill is even in question. Jackson’s actions may well be a good reason to remove him from the 20 dollar bill, but a more suitable person should fill the empty space. The face of John Marshall, a distinguished justice that shaped the Judicial Branch, or Sandra Day O’Connor, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and made great and important  rulings based on extensive research. The bill can change, but in all honesty I feel that Tubman is not the best replacement option.

“Jackson’s actions may well be a good reason to remove him from the 20 dollar bill, but a more suitable person should fill the empty space.””

— Labriola

And now Hayden Pontes and Maeve Costigan weigh in:

In April of 2016, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that they would be removing Andrew Jackson from the 20 dollar bill and that he would be replaced by Harriet Tubman. The current President, Donald Trump, was open with his disdain for this idea suggesting we put her on the rarely printed 2 dollar bill, or find another way to honor her. He suggests that we, “see if we can maybe come up with another denomination.” On the other bills we have, George Washington on the $1 bill, fitting as he’s the first president and in his terms in office has set countless precedents that have been upheld for hundreds of years. On the $10 bill is the first Secretary Treasury, Alexander Hamilton founder of the National Bank, and the creator of America’s first war-debt plan. Finally on the $20 dollar bill, we have Andrew Jackson, a ‘man of the people’. Andrew Jackson’s presidency consisted of the Nullification Crisis, Specie Circular executive order in 1836, which requires government land to be paid for in gold, and the panic of 1837, paired with a lasting economic depression that had to be handled by his predecessors. He also implemented the “spoils” system, allowing political supporters to be put into federal positions regardless of qualification, and his attacks on national banks. By executive order Jackson moved about 20% of the nations money to private banks that politically supported him. Harriet Tubman, his potential replacement, has more pleasant connotations with her name. She freed hundreds of slaves, fought for women’s suffrage, worked as a spy for the union in the Civil War, and was one of the first women ever in US history to lead an armed raid into enemy territory. After the war she struggled financially, but she still donated a portion of her land to become a home for elderly African Americans. Andrew Jackson did however have some successes, he dealt with the nullification crisis, the claim that states could ignore federal law, smoothly, he was the first president ever from the frontier, the first and only president to ever pay off an entire national debt within his presidency and he appointed 6 federal judges, more than any other president. While his shortcomings don’t negate his successes, his successes certainly don’t negate his shortcomings. Compared to Jackson Tubman, for the large part contributed more to the America we live in today; while she was liberating oppressed populations Jackson was oppressing them, she was actively making long-term changes to America and dedicated her entire life to seeing them through. 

Compared to Jackson Tubman, for the large part contributed more to the America we live in today; while she was liberating oppressed populations Jackson was oppressing them”

— Pontes

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Point, Counterpoint: Harriet Tubman on the Twenty Dollar Bill? Our Columnists Weigh in!