Hamilton: The war on symbols
There’s lots of talk about removing symbols that offend one activist group or another. Just to name a few symbols: Confederate Flags, Christian Crosses, the Ten Commandments, Swastikas, Hanukkah Menorahs, Christmas Manger Scenes, and Wedding cakes.
Well, folks who grew up in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) have many good reasons to be offended by President Andrew Jackson; so, while we are banishing symbols, let’s remove Andrew Jackson from the face of the $20 bill. Here’s why:
In 1816, Gen. Andrew Jackson led the efforts to exterminate the Seminole Indians of Florida. Memo to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP): The Seminoles were a mix of Native Americans and African-Americans. Reverends Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Wright, pay attention.
Most of the Seminoles were killed in battle during the course of three Seminole Indian Wars that raged intermittently between 1816 and 1858. The few Seminoles who were not killed outright by U.S. troops led by Gen. Jackson were placed in concentration camps in central Florida.
Memo to the British: On Dec. 24, 1814, you signed The Treaty of Ghent, signifying your defeat by the United States in the War of 1812. But, to add insult to injury, two weeks after you had already surrendered, Gen. Jackson, at the Battle of New Orleans, put your Royal Army to ignominious flight: “Yeah, they ran through the briars. And they ran through the brambles. And they ran through the bushes, where the rabbit couldn’t go. They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ‘em, on down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico…” One suspects many Britons would be jolly-well pleased to see Jackson banished from the American $20 bill.
In 1830, President Andrew Jackson pushed the Indian Removal Act through Congress. Members of the Five Civilized Tribes, the: Cherokees, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and the few remaining Seminoles were forced by President Jackson onto the infamous Trail of Tears to Indian Territory, which is modern-day Oklahoma. Along the Trail of Tears over 4,000 Cherokees perished. During Jackson’s eight years as president, over 45,000 Native Americans were forced to give up their lands to white settlers and walk more than 2,200 miles to Oklahoma.
Along the Trail of Tears, the Native Americans were sometimes packed into hastily constructed concentration camps where many died of communicable diseases. The exposure, diseases, and starvation experienced by the Native Americans along the Trail of Tears puts one in mind of 1915 when the Turks marched 1.5 million Armenians to death or 1942 when the Japanese conducted the Bataan Death March that killed almost 10,000 Filipinos and 650 Americans. Memo to the American Indian Movement (AIM): Andrew Jackson was not your friend.
Now, in place of President Jackson on the $20 dollar bill, imagine a photograph of Caitlin Jenner. In one stroke, our currency would be rid of Jackson, the racist, genocidal, Indian-killer, Anglophobe and, at the same time, honor a person who would please the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender (LGBT) Coalition and five members of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Memo to Andrew Jackson supporters: President Jackson would not be banished entirely. As co-founder of the Democratic Party, he will still be celebrated at the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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