Big Government, Corruption, Issues, The White House

Time to get Old Hickory off the $20 bill

Editors Note: The following is a guest post by Robert Romano senior editor of Americans for Limited Government


andrew jacksonAndrew Jackson would be the first to say to take him off the $20 bill.

Right on it, the bill says, “Federal Reserve Note,” an institution he would have despised.

As President, when the renewal of the Second Bank of the United States’ charter passed Congress, Jackson vetoed it. Jackson spent his political career making certain there would not be a central bank in this country. He even paid off the national debt.

The Jacksonians went on to become the modern Democrat Party. Those in favor of the national bank became the Whigs.

Why was Jackson so adamantly opposed to a central bank? Besides being unconstitutional in his eyes, Jackson was deeply suspicious of foreign ownership of the bank. That it would influence and subvert U.S. policy.

In 1822, foreigners held $3.1 million or 9.1 percent of the bank’s $35 million capital, according to a report of its board of directors. In 1830, according to a House report on the bank’s history prepared by Rep. George McDuffie that figure had risen to $7 million, or 20 percent of the stock. By 1832, it increased to $8.4 million, or 24 percent of the stock, “mostly of Great Britain,” Jackson noted in his veto of the bank’s recharter.

Even though foreigners were prohibited from serving on the bank’s board of directors, Jackson nonetheless keyed in on it as a threat to American sovereignty and independence.

“Should the stock of the bank principally pass into the hands of the subjects of a foreign country, and we should unfortunately become involved in a war with that country, what would be our condition?” Jackson asked, referring to the financial ruin that followed the War of 1812.

With the nation nearly bankrupted, that conflict had revealed very well what might happen when a nation finds itself at war with its creditors.

As far as foreign influence is concerned, consider, both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were opponents of the national debt earlier in their careers.

Yet, their administrations accumulated vast sums of debt to foreign countries. These experiences had changed their views and thus public policy on the national debt and central banking.

President James Madison had never supported the First Bank of the United States’ charter in 1791 as a member of the House of Representatives, along with Thomas Jefferson, who both had opposed the bank on constitutional grounds. In 1811, Madison had his vice president, George Clinton, cast the deciding vote against that bank’s renewal.

Within a year, the U.S. was again at war with Great Britain, a conflict that put the nation deeply into debt. Madison, who had famously opposed the creation of the national debt, when in power saw it rise from $45 million in 1812 to $127 million by 1816 to pay for his war.

Per the McDuffie House report, within three years “the circulating medium became so disordered, the public finances so deranged, and the public credit so impaired, that the enlightened patriot, [Alexander] Dallas, who then presided over the Treasury Department, with the sanction of Mr. Madison, and, as it is believed, every member of the cabinet, recommended to Congress the establishment of a National Bank.”

So, when Madison could not lock up loans for his war — even after its conclusion — he yielded and created another central bank in 1816.

Jackson was right, foreign “investment” in our debt and our central bank is actually influence, and can turn into subversion. Madison had been transformed, and so had the implied Constitution of the federal government. The Second Bank was ordered.

16 years later, Jackson would undo it. And it would not be for another 81 years that the Federal Reserve would be created. That was Jackson’s lasting legacy.

So, whatever. Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Who cares?

If anything, the $20 bill dishonors Jackson’s true heritage as a staunch opponent of central banking and fiat currency.

So, let’s give Old Hickory his due, and get him off the $20 bill.

  • Gato37

    While it is true that Andrew Jackson was one of our nation’s greatest opponents to central banking, I wonder how many people would know this, had his image not been on the $20 bill. Yes, to have him on the $20 fiat is somewhat of an injustice, but in my opinion our entire society has evolved to a sometimes dangerous mentality. It is easy to tear down anything so we can take the easy way out. The adult way to handle things would be to first find a better replacement of whatever it is that is to be torn down, so that we continually improve our lives and society. This should be a premise to High School graduation whereby each student would put together a 500-1000 word term paper/project to demonstrate a way of tearing down something/anything/anyone by first suggesting ways to improve/replace the existing thing, and maybe the best way to improve is simply not to replace, but the thought process should justify.

    That being said, it would behoove us to find a way to replace Andrew Jackson to a more apt and formidable fashion while simultaneously educating the populace as to what he stood for and accomplished. Such substitution would then likely gain the support of the majority who matter. Alexander Hamilton on the $10 is then appropriate since he was a central banking system supporter. Perhaps a new gold/silver backed circulating unit would be appropriate for Jackson — I suggested this to the US Treasury sometime back that a second level of currency be issued. In that instance we would have both the fiat currency as well as a gold/silver/commodity/land certificate currency that would be backed by intrinsic value and only be used for local commerce — see which currency would be better or in more demand. As to a woman on currency, why not another modernized version of the Statue of Liberty? She has been on numerous monetary items throughout history and makes much more sense than many suggestions. AdamSmith37

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