In 1928 the Treasury Department issued the first $20 bill featuring Andrew Jackson, replacing Grover Cleveland. After almost a century, Jackson needs to step aside — and this time, the bill should feature John Ross, a Cherokee leader and Old Hickory’s opponent in a fight to control Indian land.
Jackson infamously won that fight, but used methods that stained his country’s honor. Ross lost, but only after resisting for over 20 years. Placing Ross on the $20 bill would bring a measure of symbolic justice to a seminal episode of American history.
This is hardly the first proposal to change the $20 bill. Calls to replace Jackson, a slave owner, with an American Indian or an African-American are common; this year a brilliant campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill has gained traction. We should be adding diverse figures to our money. But we should do this without losing sight of the incredible era the $20 bill now represents: America’s formative years between the Revolution and the Civil War.