Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A new face for money

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President Andrew Jackson may not be the face of the $20 bill, as there is a campaign that is trying to replace him with an accomplished woman.

Many Americans, including President Barack Obama, expressed support for this push – I mean, why not support removing a president with genocidal tendencies, clear disregard for the Constitution and hatred for paper money?

As a United States history buff, I acknowledge there are some pretty cool, unprecedented things that Andrew Jackson did to suggest he was a strong president. He was the first president who used the campaign tactic of appearing as relatable, painting his opponents as out of touch and elitist.

Jackson also preserved the union when he took a strong position against John C. Calhoun’s crusade for states’ rights, which was dangerously straddling the line of support for southern states’ secessions from the country.

Ironically, though, Jackson was probably the most vocally opposed president to paper currency. Jackson thought paper money was not real currency, which was legitimate because it was depreciating in value since banks distributed paper currency most.

Even for all that Jackson did well, forcing the removal of Cherokee Native Americans from their Georgia homes is not something that should be excused. The Supreme Court declared this removal unconstitutional, but he responded by going through with the plan regardless. The result was the displacement and death of thousands of Cherokees.

After learning about Jackson in high school history classes, I thought it was a joke that he was on the $20 bill. He would never want to be on paper currency in the first place, and the Trail of Tears is not exactly a proud moment in America’s past.

So this campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has me pretty excited.

I acknowledge this is a small, symbolic victory. Would I be more excited if Congress passed a law mandating that female workers be paid equally to male workers? Of course I would be. Would I be more excited if in 2016 a female candidate won the presidency? You can guess my answer to the question.

But the fact that no women’s faces appear on paper currency shows how underrepresented women really are. So while this victory may be purely symbolic, it at least calls attention to the accomplishments of some amazing American women.

Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt are among the 15 women who may appear on the currency, and I wish I learned more about these women in history classes.

But maybe featuring a woman on the $20 bill will encourage us to consider women’s history as a substantial part of American history.

I found that it is extremely difficult to pick a favorite woman for the new face of the bill. Though there were a few women I had never heard of, the website has a brief description of what each woman has accomplished, making the task a bit easier.

There are the women who ignited the movement for women’s suffrage, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. There’s Betty Friedan, a feminist icon who publicized the disillusionment of American housewives in the sixties in her book, “The Feminine Mystique.” Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to be elected to Congress and first black candidate in a majority political party is also a contender. The list is complete with abolitionists, suffragists, challengers of normative views of sexuality, and women who played roles in war and politics.

I will be content with whoever is chosen from this list of extremely distinguished American women. There is really no wrong choice.

Someday (hopefully in 2020 as the campaign aims for), young girls will see the face of a national female leader on the face of the $20 bill. I hope our daughters ask questions about her and learn to regard her as a positive role model – that is something that we should all be encouraged by.

You can read about these influential women and vote for your favorites on womenon20s.org.

Brianna Zimmerman is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

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