Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why I Almost Failed U.S. History

Near the end of college — second semester of senior year, the home stretch — I signed up for U.S. History: 1620–1865. I needed the social science credits and I thought, come on, I'm from Boston... I learned all of this in the second grade. This will be a piece of cake!

And it was easy... up until John Adams or so. After that — well, how much do you know about the early 1800s? Yeah, that's what I thought. So I had to start "reading the material" and "attending class" and whatnot. I learned some stuff. 

My professor was in love with our 7th president, Andrew Jackson. Some people think he's awesome: he was a POW in the Revolutionary War at like age 13, he was a bigshot military hero in the War of 1812; some say he stood for democracy and the common man. Whatever. Andrew Jackson was a first-class dick. There, I said it. 

This guy championed Indian removal, most notably forcing 15,000 Cherokee Indians clear across the country to Oklahoma on what became known as the Trail of Tears (4,000+ died). The Supreme Court ordered the whole thing wrongful and illegal, and you know what? He ignored the decision altogether, publicly taunting the Chief Justice (not to mention our entire system of checks and balances), and forced them out anyway.  

(What a dick, right?)

And here he is on our $20 bill. Which by now I'd wager is the most commonly used bill in circulation. I mean, that's prime real estate — most ATMs don't even dispense anything else. George Washington, hero of our nation's war for independence and first great leader, is stuck on the buck. Can't even get a cup of coffee with George. Abraham Lincoln, the man who ended U.S. slavery and saved the union, at least gets the five, which is still my favorite bill. But his penny is certainly in danger of extinction or irrelevance. 

This brings us to today's Top Five Thursday list. 

Top Five Nominees to Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

1. Harriet Tubman. (Note from the future: Good grief, President Obama announced this like a decade ago and we're still waiting, largely because that Andrew Jackson-loving Trump — also a Grade A racist dickhead, of course he admired AJ — put a halt to it.

2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Possibly the greatest role model in U.S. history. Just looking at his sincere, kind, serious face, and remembering his legacy makes me a better person. Better than looking at stupid Andrew Jackson and his wild warrior mane every day.

3. An artist, please! How about Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, John Steinbeck, Louis Armstrong, Walter Cronkite, Maya Angelou (note from the future: glad to see this is actually happening, at least on a quarter!) Bob Dylan, Walt Disney...? Although paying with Disney dollars might feel a little fake. Except in Disney World, obviously. 

4. An amazing woman like Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, or Susan B. Anthony? At the very least, let's finally normalize using Sue B. Anthony dollars, I love coins. 

5. Lyndon Johnson or FDR. If we must stick with presidents, these guys had their flaws but were pretty instrumental in establishing a lot of the best things we take for granted in America. (Note from the future: or at least, stuff we used to take for granted, before the rise of Trumpism.) I'd seven ettle for Teddy Roosevelt. Or how about John Adams or John Quincy Adams, the only ones among the first dozen presidents not to own slaves? (JQA was wildly underrated, I've come to realize.)

Oh, as for the title of this post: Our final exam was an essay question about the professor's sweetheart, Andrew Jackson. I laid into him. My answer was scathing, vile... probably full of profanity, too. I got a D, but whatever, I was graduating whether that dick Andrew Jackson liked it or not. 

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