By Dom Giordano
Philadelphia Daily News (TNS)
Late last week, Google’s top trending question was depressing. The question was “Who is Harriet Tubman?” It’s hard to believe so many people would have no sense of Tubman when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew named her to replace former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill.
Almost equally predictable was that Tubman would not replace Alexander Hamilton, as had been originally speculated. The thought originally was to get a prominent woman on our currency, and Hamilton was not a former president and thus targeted. This thought was trumped, however, by the success of the hit Broadway play Hamilton. It’s helped Hamilton to be lionized in pop culture as one of the “good” Founding Fathers.
Hamilton is the counterpoint to these guys, and his big-government views were just lionized last Friday by prominent leftist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
I like Fox News Channel Greta Van Susteren’s suggestion: “Give Tubman her own bill. Like a $25 bill. Put her picture on that,
and we could all celebrate. That’s the smart and easy thing to do. But, no, some people don’t think and would gratuitously stir up conflict in the nation.”
It also interested me that were people on the left and some feminists who argued that Tubman would not want to be on our currency, because she wasn’t a capitalist. The Washington Post debunked some myths around Tubman, and noted that she was an entrepreneur who established a laundry and restaurant near Hilton Head, S.C., during the Civil War and instructed recently liberated women in providing various services to the Union for pay.
Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, wrote in the New York Post about Tubman thinking before her escape: “There’s two things I’ve got a right to, and these are Death or Liberty — one or the other I meant to have.”
Lowry echoes my thoughts when he says, “Is it possible to utter a more American sentiment? In an era of ethnic and gender bean-counting, everyone wants to keep score, but Harriet Tubman belongs to all of us.”
Maybe she even deserves a Broadway musical.
So I think we should embrace this together and use it as an opportunity to attack Andrew
Jackson. Jackson was a slave owner, but he stopped the South from leaving the Union and won the War of 1812 against the British. Let’s not make this about getting even with Jackson, but embracing an American hero.
This whole debate has made me think about whom else should we consider placing on our money? The biggest figure missing is former President Reagan. I rank Reagan along with Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt as among our most consequential presidents. How about if we target Ulysses S. Grant, who appears on the $50 bill, or Grover Cleveland, who appears on the $1,000 bill? If we place Reagan on the $1,000 bill, I could use it to get two decent seats when Hamilton comes to Philadelphia.
Also, there is a movement starting that maintains that, given President Obama’s historic status, he belongs on our currency. The debate over both presidents will be intense.
As far as Obama is concerned, a listener of mine summed up the opposition feelings last week. As we discussed Tubman on the $20 bill, he said, “Given the huge deficit President Obama has produced, in the future, he belongs on the 20 trillion-dollar bill.”