OUR POSITION ON THE PROPOSED $20
By now, you certainly have heard the news. On April 20, United States Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew announced plans for the redesign of the $5, $10 and $20 bills. The front of the new $20 bill will feature American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, while President Andrew Jackson will move to the back of the bill and accompany an image of the White House.
As can be expected, Secretary Lew’s announcement has drawn national attention and spirited conversation, both pro and con. Many supporters of Andrew Jackson and of his home, The Hermitage, have asked for our opinion of Treasury’s decision.
We absolutely support efforts to diversify representation on U.S. currency and recognize the array of individuals who shaped the course of our nation’s history. Both Harriet Tubman and Jackson, along with many other iconic figures, deserve to be commemorated and remembered. It should not be a Jackson versus Tubman contest. We need to expand the circle of individuals who are commemorated on currency as a way of telling the inspiring, complicated and messy history of our nation. As keepers of Andrew Jackson’s story, we are dedicated to reminding us all why there was an Age of Jackson, who he was and why he was revered by so many. One story should not be at the expense of another. Therein lies our disappointment.
Andrew Jackson was an iconic American who was considered in his time as the second George Washington and whose own saga, from Revolutionary War orphan to war hero to president, became a metaphor for the emerging American identity. He was truly a self-made man who transformed our republic from a democracy in name to a democracy indeed. He inspired other presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, and was revered by both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, among others. And yes, he also owned slaves, signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and pressed for its implementation. All of these stories are on display at The Hermitage.
Since the announcement, we have received many calls, emails and Tweets from individuals asking what they can do about the proposed change. In the spirit of Jacksonian democracy where the voice of every citizen matters, we suggest that expressing your opinion to your elected officials and Secretary Lew is appropriate.
We value your continued support of this institution and its mission as we continue to preserve, educate and inspire.
Andrew Jackson and The Hermitage are at the heart of America’s story. I urge you to visit his home in Nashville and learn the complete story of Jackson’s life and legacy, both pro and con.
Howard J. Kittell
President & CEO
Andrew Jackson Foundation