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The Tyrant we Honor Every Day
Imagine Iraq had put Saddam Hussein on their currency. Of course, this will never happen. Saddam Hussein was an extremist, a tyrant, and a general who committed war crimes. Saddam Hussein took control of his Country’s military, bypassed the courts, and the people. He threw the nonviolent, peaceful country of Kuwait into turmoil, so he could profit. To further secure his place in the hall of infamy, he committed genocide out of nothing but bigotry, hate and greed, on the nomadic Kurdish people. No one would put him or any other tyrannical dictator on a position of honor, such as having there portrait printed onto national currency.
Through grievous errors of the right wing campaign to white wash our history, and sweep violence under the rug, we have put our own American dictator, on par with, and perhaps surpassing Saddam Hussein on every level. That man, is Andrew Jackson.
The insidious camping to white wash history is to blame for this. The right wing movement to downplay Jim Crow laws, ignore the trail of tears, and Japanese internment camps. They even insist that the civil war was a war of states’ rights, that it was the “War of Northern Aggression”. It was this camping to sugar coat parts of our ugly past, which has led to the war criminal, also known as Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, to get his likeness on the twenty dollar bill. This is intolerable, to me, and the descendants of the Native American tribes he destroyed. A growing crescendo of voices have cried out for his likeness to be removed from the twenty dollar bill. My voice will now join them.
Andrew Jackson was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and a general under President Jefferson. Jackson would start his career in genocide and systematic murder early, against the Creek Nation. Jefferson had him forcefully remove them, from their homelands in Georgia and Alabama, so that cotton plantations could be built. Eye witness accounts of those on Jackson’s personal staff reported that he encouraged the systematic murder of women and children, so the Creek would always be wiped out. Estimates of the total number of Creek people killed are put around ten thousand. There well could have been more. After this war waged for greed, the Government stole an estimated twenty three million acres to sell to plantation owners.
President Jefferson had his new found land. However, his attack dog was uncontrollable. Jackson turned his wrath toward Florida. The northern part of Florida had the Seminole Tribes living as a sovereign nation. South of the Seminole, the Spaniards ruled Florida as a colony. None of this stalled Jackson’s bloody march. He wiped out the Seminole nation the same way he had mascaraed the Creek. Then, Jackson drove the Spanish out. Jackson returned, and was hailed as a war hero.
Years later, Jackson became president. It came to his attention that the state of Georgia and the Cherokee nation had settled onto a peaceful treaty to coexist, in relative peace. The racist inside Jackson could not stand for this. He raised his army, and prepared to move out. Congress protested: they had not voted on a war. Jackson paid no heed. The Supreme Court told him, that should he wage war on the Cherokee he would be in violation of the Constitution, as Georgia had already formed an agreement with the Cherokee. Jackson, in an act of blatant treason, ignored the Supreme Court, and Congress. He then proceeded to massacre the Cherokee. When he had run out of resources for his rampage, Jackson had a dilemma: What to do with all those who were still alive? His answer was simple. He would move them to reservations, thousands of miles away from their home, on the most inhospitable lands in the west. These became the reservations that many of these natives still live on. This was because of the Indian Removal act. Forty six thousand where displaced, and four thousand died on the journey.
Then Jackson committed his cruelest act. Jackson adopted a Cherokee boy, orphaned by his war. HE would then proceeded to show off the adopted child like an accessory at social events.
After Jackson's death, these crimes where not remembered. The American citizen at this time was more concerned with the land Jackson had opened up for settlement. It didn’t help that most American Citizens supported these atrocities.
Andrew Jackson was a war criminal, and a traitor. If he had lived today, this is what would have happened to him. He would have been impeached from the presidency for ignoring the Supreme Court, Congress, and the Constitution. After he was impeached, Jackson would be taken to the world courts, and charged with war crimes, namely the murder of civilians, pillaging, rape, genocide, hate crimes, and un provoked war against a sovereign nation(when he took Florida, a Spanish colony). Jackson would be jailed, and spend the rest of his life in a cage.
With all of this stacked against him, there are some in this country who still think that he should not be removed from the twenty dollar bill. While I personally disagree with them, I will still discus them.
One of these arguments is that despite this, he was a good president in other aspects. They cite the fact he single handedly save New Orleans from a French invasion. People of this thought category are willing to overlook his heinous war crimes, in favor of the good he did. They also point out that printing a new design would be incredibly costly.
Another opinion on why he shouldn’t be removed from the twenty dollar bill is because what he did to the Native Americans was necessary. They point out that the Cherokee, the Creek, the Seminole, and the Spanish colony of Florida all posed imminent danger to the American states. While the Seminole did launch raiding attacks against the US and Florida, they were not opposed to a peaceful solution. The American and Europeans did not negotiate with them. The Creek had been living in peace without attacking America. While it is true that the Cherokee had fought against the people of Georgia, they had created a treaty that satisfied both Georgia and the Cherokee. The only war that would have been justified in any sense, would be the Seminole attack. Even then, a diplomatic solution could have, been reached.
This argument completely ignores the horror of Jackson’s slaughter. They targeted small villages that had no part in the raids against America. Then, he ordered all the elderly, women, and children shot dead. After some escaped, and holed up in a cabin, he had it burned, with women, children, and elderly people still inside. They were burned alive. While the burned chards where still cooling, Jackson’s soldiers discovered a cellar containing potatoes underneath the cabin. The liquefied fat from those burned alive had seeped into the potatoes. The heat of the inferno above had cooked them nicely. Jackson and his soldiers then proceeded to eat the potatoes, saturated with the fat of those he had burned alive.
Some argue that the twenty dollar bills printed before Jackson’s face is taken off of the twenty dollar bill will make them a sought out collectable. It is true that this may happen. However, with all the twenty dollar bills with his face already in circulation, I doubt that this will happen.
Other groups argue that removing his face and calling all of the existing bills with his portrait on them would be too expensive. However, my solution to this is that we do not remove existing twenty dollar bills from circulation, we just discontinue printing them.
Some of these counter arguments bring up valid, legitimate points. None of them excuse putting a genocidal war lord in a position of honor on our currency. The fact that the United States still does not fully apologize for the racist and bigoted actions it took to remove, exterminate, and destroy the Native Americans is appalling. The fact we honor the man, who had he lived today, be compared to Saddam Hussein, is sickening to me. How could we continue to allow this to happen? Andrew Jackson was a horrible man. Many Native Americans refuse to use twenty dollar bills, because his portrait is on it.
I have already compared Jackson to Saddam Hussein. Now I will compare him to another horrible ethnic cleanser: Genghis Kahn. Kahn slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people. Men. Women. Children. Animals. He raped, pillaged and plundered. Yet, in the modern parts of Mongolia, he is revered with statues. His face is stamped onto money. He is honored as a war hero. In all the lands of his former empire, his name is spoken with disdain. For they see him as he truly was: a genocidal mad man, motivated by hate and greed. Why can’t we see Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, for who he truly is?
When Andrew Jackson is struck from the twenty dollar bill, this leaves us with a new problem. Who do we replace him with? Many Americans would select another president. However, I have another solution. Replace Jackson with Sacajawea. Sacajawea was a Native American women who helped guide Luis and Clark on their journey to the Pacific. She was a true American hero. She helped make peace between western tribes before she became a guide. Then, while traveling with Luis and Clark, she negotiate peace between those tribes, and America. All of her hard work was undone in a single stroke however, by Jackson’s Indian Removal Act. We should honor her on the twenty dollar bill.
Without her, Louis and Clark would have died on their journey. If they had died, all of our westward expansion would be delayed. How different would American history be if we couldn’t expand westward? No railroads. No Texas, no California. No room to grow. American history would be completely different. A place of honor should be given to a hero, not a tyrant. Sacajawea is an obvious choice. Putting her in that position of honor would also begin to make amends for the atrocities we committed against the Native Americans.
Think with me for a moment. Iraq would never put Saddam Hussein, a tyrant, a war lord, a genocidal mad man on their money. So, why do we put Jackson on our money? There has always been a push by the Native Americans to remove Jackson from the twenty dollar bill. No one has given them any attention. Their voices are confined to the reservations we have penned them in. Their voices don’t come from regular Americans, so we don’t listen. As we continue to idolize out past, and gloss over our flaws, the peoples we harmed are still very much alive. While no one in power will listen to them, maybe someone will listen to me. My voice will speak for them. My voice, will apologize for what my ancestors did. I refuse to let these injustices go quietly.
What will your voice do?