If Andrew Jackson gets the hook, look to the Carolinas for a fresh face


I know some of you are sore about this, but we really should go along with it.

There’s a movement to yank Andrew Jackson’s mug off the $20 bill and replace it with a portrait of a woman.

Even though he’s one of ours, we should get behind the idea. There’s been enough fighting over Jackson already.

Both Carolinas claim him as a native. All we really know is that he was born March 15, 1767, three weeks after the death of his father, somewhere in the Waxhaws – but nobody knows on which side of the border.

Jackson was a hot-tempered beanpole of a statesman, 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds. You can love him or loathe him – there are reasons for either.

He rose from poverty to serve in the Revolution and the War of 1812. He whipped the Brits in the Battle of New Orleans (a month after the armistice was signed).

He was opposed to secession and was the last president to pay off the national debt.

He owned slaves and led troops against the Indians. He ordered the Cherokees’ removal to the West, the Trail of Tears. In a duel, he killed a man who insulted his wife.

So if you want to criticize Jackson, you’ll have a lot to work with. But you don’t need to – Jackson himself battled big banking and favored coinage over paper money. He’d be the last to kick if you replaced his scowling face on a Federal Reserve note.

But if we’re going to give up a native son on the $20, we want to replace him with a native daughter. Seems fair.

Like their politics or not, Nikki Haley or Bev Perdue ought to be considered as the first female governors in the Carolinas.

Mary McLeod Bethune should be on the list. Born in Sumter County, S.C., to former slaves, she championed education and started in 1904 what became Bethune-Cookman University.

I like Dolley Madison, born in 1768 near Greensboro, N.C., because she’s got Washington connections and a fearless back story. She’s central to the legend of saving George Washington’s portrait when the British were sacking the capital.

A century without a woman on a bill is long enough. Women have been rather important in developing this continent.

Which brings us to our last candidate – a woman of mystery, prominence and a Carolina pedigree. She is the first American born of European parents, and her name lives on at North Carolina’s Outer Banks – Virginia Dare.

The finalists

The group pushing to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with a woman has narrowed its field of candidates to four finalists.

The group called Women on 20s has been pushing for the change, saying women in general deserve the recognition and that Jackson in particular is a controversial choice.

The group has winnowed the finalists from an original list of 100, in part through 256,000 votes cast by the public over roughly five weeks.

Making the change would be surprisingly easy. It does not take an act of Congress; the Treasury secretary can choose who appears on paper currency.

The four:

▪ Eleanor Roosevelt

▪ Harriet Tubman

▪ Rosa Parks

▪ Wilma Mankiller