Native Americans — we called them Indians growing up before political correctness disguised as sensitivity intervened — surely are celebrating.
They have reason to. Eventually, the visage of America’s seventh president — Andrew Jackson — will be removed from the front of the $20 bill to be replaced by abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
Jackson is so hated by Native Americans that many now refuse to carry a $20 bill. You really cannot blame them.
Jackson made his fame first as a noted Indian fighter, leading forces that took Indian land despite treaties and morality that suggested otherwise.
He was so prolific at it that he eventually gained control of the American army in what was then called “the west,” modern-day Kentucky, Tennessee and the lower South.
His apologists — and they are legion — never tire of reminding critics like me that Jackson once adopted an orphan Indian infant boy after one battle and raised him at his Tennessee mansion.
The boy was made an orphan when Jackson’s troops killed his parents. The boy never really acclimated to upper-middle class white society and died of tuberculosis in his late teens.
But Jackson’s real fame came when he won the unnecessary Battle of New Orleans after the War of 1812 officially was over. Immediately his fawning fans began to push him toward the White House where he finally settled in 1829.
Jackson’s political enemies said he was a man of passions and prejudices, not a man of principles or plans. He hated big banks, so naturally he killed the Bank of America, delaying a needed national banking system for nearly a century until Woodrow Wilson created the Federal Reserve System.
His aversion to federally funded support for internal improvements — what we call infrastructure — foiled Kentuckian Henry Clay’s plans to create a national economy that would meld the two sections, north and south, into a vibrant, diverse national economy that would free the South from a one-resource economy and rid the country of slavery.
Jackson vetoed all measures to do that.
Following prevailing white sentiment, Jackson then supported a measure to force all Indians east of the Mississippi to move west of that dividing river. The “Trail of Tears” followed.
Symbols are supposed to reflect our prevailing values in our own time. That’s why so many outdated ones still cause controversy.
What many mistakenly identify as the Confederate flag — it’s really the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, not the national Confederate flag — is not now a unifying symbol and neither is Jefferson Davis’ statue in the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda.
Surely secession and slavery are no longer prevailing sentiments as they once were. And neither is Jackson’s racism and support of genocide.
Harriet Tubman risked her life countless times to rescue people from slavery. Now there’s a symbol any of us would be proud to carry in our wallet. I know I will.
Barry Peel, a retired TV reporter, is a commentator on Hometown Radio Network in Danville.