The notion of replacing Andrew Jackson’s picture on the $20 bill with that of Harriet Tubman has gained the apparent support of Hillary Clinton, prompting The Guardian to ask politicians in the former president’s home state what they thought of the idea. An excerpt from the resulting report:
Perhaps the strongest defense of the seventh president came from Jim Cooper, a longtime Democratic congressman from the Volunteer State. He told the Guardian in a statement: “I agree that men should no longer monopolize the images on US paper money. All the men pictured, with the possible exception of Washington, were deeply flawed.”
However, Cooper added: “But to drop Jackson, one of the most popular presidents in history and the founder of the Democratic party, would be a mistake. As a Tennessean, I would drop Grant from the $50, not Jackson from the $20.”
…Steve Cohen, the only other Democratic congressman from Tennessee, was somewhat more open to change. He thought both Tubman and Jackson were great Americans and should be recognized. Cohen said he has “never been one to replace one person’s recognition and honor with another”.
Cohen suggested Tubman “could be on the $20 bill with Andrew Jackson on another bill”.
The four-term congressman noted that he would like to see more American women and minorities recognized in general. “I’ve suggested we have 150 statutes [in Statuary Hall], not 100, to show changes in society,” he said. The Tennessee Democrat also opined that Clinton’s anti-Jackson move wouldn’t make much of a political difference in his home state, which Bill Clinton carried in 1992 and 1996 but which has gone solidly Republican since then.
“If Hillary Clinton could bring Andrew Jackson back to life and have him give a speech at the inauguration, I don’t think it would be enough for her to carry Tennessee,” he said.
The Tennessee Democrat most guarded about the issue was Mary Mancini, the state party chair. When the Guardian reached her by telephone on Monday, she said “that’s a good question” and immediately put the phone on hold for several minutes. When she returned to the call, she simply said: “It’s a good conversation that we should have about equality, about who is presented on our money and how we can be more representative of the population as a whole.”
Mancini declined to express further opinions about the currency question while noting that “Andrew Jackson was not a perfect person” and pointing out that “just because he is the founder of the Democratic party doesn’t mean we back everything that he did”. Instead, she simply thought it was “a conversation that needs to be had”.
…Among Republicans, a spokesman for presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, who hails from the same region of South Carolina where Jackson was born, said the three-term senator “doesn’t think there should be any changes to the $20 bill”. Further, Tennessee senator Bob Corker simply shrugged and seemed indifferent when asked. “I don’t have a lot to say,” he told the Guardian. “Andrew Jackson certainly has a major place in Tennessee history, but I don’t make determinations as to who is on dollar bills.”