The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that Harriet Tubman will be replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill by 2020. The debate over replacing current historical figures on our currency has been raging for some time now, but this particular change is appropriate because of the juxtaposition in values that these figures stood for.
Andrew Jackson was indeed an important man in the history of the United States. He was involved in the American Revolutionary War as a youth, a series of episodes that saw the death of many members of his family. He led American forces at the Battle of New Orleans against the invading British, a decisive victory for the United States that concluded the War of 1812.
However, Jackson's legacy was not without its severe stains. Jackson initiated the Indian removal policy. This movement saw the "Trail of Tears," the removal of 15,000 Cherokees from their homeland who were forced to march from east of the Mississippi River to present-day Oklahoma, killing 4,000.
Additionally, Jackson was a prominent slave owner and was noted to abuse power of the veto and military force to carry out his will during his presidency.
Harriet Tubman, on the other hand, was a renowned abolitionist and helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom with the use of the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War, she worked for the Union Army as a spy and helped free several hundred more slaves during this time.
The contrast between the types of people that both Tubman and Jackson were is evident. One stood for bigotry and tyranny, while the other stood for emancipation and liberty. Through this comparison, only Tubman comes out on top as a symbol for the American values of justice, equality and freedom that we hold today as a society.
This change is grounded in modern efforts to create a more diverse representation of American history through today's national symbols, which primarily idolize rich, white males. This is a righteous endeavor that stays true to the reality of history. Although some may argue that the Treasury is simply trying to erase legacies of people like Jackson, they must understand the bigger picture - that such figures were never as respectable as once believed.
For a time, it was argued that not Andrew Jackson but Alexander Hamilton would have his face removed from the face of the $10 bill. Only because of the potency of Hamilton, a broadway grand slam, was the former president spared his removal. Not that his legacy is as glaringly stained as Jackson's, but replacing him with Rosa Parks, another suggested face, might be worth considering. It is our hope, then, that the trend of immortalizing more underrepresented but honorable historical figures continues.