Ben Carson Thinks Harriet Tubman Shouldn't Be On The $20 Bill, Because Andrew Jackson Was Just SO Great
Confused neurosurgeon Ben Carson is showing up on news programs again for some reason. In an interview with Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto on Wednesday, he shared his opinion regarding the news that Harriet Tubman will be replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Because we're being awfully mean to former President Jackson, Carson thinks Tubman should perhaps be on the $2 bill instead.
"I think Andrew Jackson was ... a tremendous president. Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually balanced the federal budget where we had no national debt. In honor of that, we kick him off the money?" lamented Carson. He was quick to explain that his objection to Tubman replacing Jackson on the currency is not due to any disrespect toward the famed abolitionist:
I love Harriet Tubman. I love what she did. But we can find another way to honor her. Maybe a $2 bill?
Carson's suggestion that Tubman be relegated to the rarest bill in circulation is upsetting, but perhaps it was just an on-the-spot gaffe. A more salient area for analysis is Carson's claim that Jackson was a "tremendous" president. Carson's right about Jackson's historical position as the only president to balance the budget and leave the country debt-free. NPR reported that the national debt was $58 million when Jackson took office, and after six years of his presidency, it was gone. He accomplished this mainly by selling a bunch of land the U.S. government owned in the West and by blocking pretty much every spending bill brought to him.
It's kind of hard, for me at least, to think about Jackson selling all that land without remembering one of the most famous pieces of his legacy: his persistent work, both as a military commander and as president, to remove Native Americans from their lands. PBS reported that Jackson spent his military career battling Native Americans across Georgia, Alabama, and Florida for their land and negotiating nine treaties that relocated eastern tribes to the west.
As president, Jackson instituted the Indian Removal Act, which gave him the authority to develop treaties to relocate tribes west; if they resisted, they were forced out. This is what happened to the Cherokee in Georgia, about 16,000 of whom refused to leave their land, according to PBS. Jackson's troops forced them out of their homes and sent them on a march west known as the Trail of Tears, during which approximately 4,000 Cherokee died.
Andrew Jackson balanced the budget. He also terrorized Native Americans. Harriet Tubman's efforts to relocate people are far more worthy of honoring than Jackson's.