Target: Neal Wolin, Acting Secretary of U.S. Department of the Treasury
Goal: Replace Andrew Jackson with a more humane historical figure on the front of twenty dollar bills.
Billions of U.S. twenty dollar bills are in circulation, all depicting the face of a man who is a stark reminder of America’s violent and racist past. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, supported removing Native American Indians off their land and sending them to reservations in the unsettled west. Their journey was treacherous and for many deadly. With America’s embarrassing history of racism, violence and oppression, it seems it might be time to acknowledge more of our humane leaders. One way to do this would be to ask Neal Wolin to remove the face of a man who is responsible for the ethnic cleansing of several Native American tribes, and replace it with someone who has helped people rather than oppress them.
The combination of finding gold on some of the land occupied by Native Americans with white settlers wanting as much land as possible to exploit and profit off of is what led Andrew Jackson to sign the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The act ignored the rights laid out in treaties between the United States and Native American Indians and forced natives off their land. The signing of the Indian Removal Act began the Trail of Tears, when thousands of Native Americans were forced to leave their homelands in the south and travel, sometimes by foot, to what is now Oklahoma. White settlers never thought America would expand that far west, and so they felt the natives would be far enough out of their way. Probably high on power, U.S. soldiers wouldn’t permit the natives to take extra clothing, food or blankets for their long trip. Consequently, the trip killed thousands of Native Americans by exposing them to freezing weather, malnutrition, starvation, pneumonia and several other diseases.
It stands to reason that the historical oppression of Native American Indians set the tone for the present day oppression they are still experiencing. Present day Native American Indians suffer emotional and psychological trauma, inadequate and below standard housing, lack of food and heat, alcoholism and drug addiction (most likely due to hopeless imposed living conditions), and high rates of poverty-related diseases. They lease large parts of their reservation land to white ranchers and are only paid a fraction of their value. And instead of being offered resources to help them gain autonomy, they are given small welfare payments or poor quality, mass-produced commodity food items with little to no nutritional value.
Dear Neal Wolin,
Every time someone in America uses an ATM, they’re greeted with bills bearing the face of a man who used his power to kill thousands of Native Americans and forced many thousands more to leave their homes. Andrew Jackson is certainly not someone Americans need to be reminded of every day.
America’s history is full of leaders who fought hard and peacefully to help make this a country that is truly free for people of all ethnic backgrounds. Andrew Jackson isn’t one of them. With America’s historical (and current) reputation for being racist, violent and oppressive, it would certainly help our image if we replaced the face of a man responsible for the deaths of thousands of Native Americans, with one of someone who truly fought for freedom. We urge you to replace the face of Andrew Jackson on twenty dollar bills with the face of a more humane leader.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: latimesblogs.latimes.com