Which American Lady Should Be on the $20 Instead of Andrew Jackson?

Illustration for article titled Which American Lady Should Be on the $20 Instead of Andrew Jackson?

There's an online movement underway to remove our genocidal 7th Prez, Andrew Jackson, from his place of honor on the $20 bill. One advocacy group believes a woman deserves the spot on the $20, since the only lady currently in circulation is Sacagawea on the $1 coin, and all Americans hate dollar coins.


Women on 20s is pushing hard to make the $20 a reality for a few reasons. 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave American women the right to vote, and all those aligning numbers are satisfying. Then there's the reality that Andrew Jackson is perhaps the one featured currency face people wouldn't mind swapping up.

While old-school Presidents and revered figures like Benjamin Franklin tend to be sacred in America, Jackson's legacy looks harsh under the light of modernity. His policies and actions towards Native Americans marked some of the more shameful passages in our early history. In addition, there's the fact that Jackson, who famously hated paper currency, would have loathed the idea of being printed on it. If we have to have him on money, let's have it be a coin. He would have wanted it that way. It's time to give the dude the boot.

Women on 20s' candidates are all strong, inspiring women who were vitally important to the history of America. They include Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alice Paul, and Shirley Chisholm amongst other luminaries (check out the full list). However, my own pick to grace the $20 isn't here. Is yours?

Through a sequence of events that started with a visit to the Mark Twain House, I recently became obsessed with the spiritualist movement that gripped America in the late 19th century. During and after the Civil War, spiritualism exploded — hardly a surprising reaction to a war that in modern terms would mean the equivalent of 6 million dead Americans. Almost everyone in America at the time had lost a friend, a husband, a brother. Everyone had their dead, and elaborate mourning rituals and attempts to contact the other side became a part of daily life. Mary Todd Lincoln held a seance at the White House.

Enter one of my favorite American ladies, Victoria Woodhull. As I learned in Barbara Goldsmith's gorgeous book Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull, Woodhull grew up poor in a grifting family, but firmly believed in her own communion with the spirits. She went on to become many things: a leader in the women's suffrage movement, the first to successfully get Congress to receive a faction of ladies to consider their grievances; along with her sister Tennie, the first female stockbroker in New York City. In 1872, she became the first woman to run for President of the United States.

Illustration for article titled Which American Lady Should Be on the $20 Instead of Andrew Jackson?

Beautiful, bold and uncompromising, Woodhull's nontraditional attitudes towards marriage earned her the moniker "Mrs. Satan" from the press. I adore her, and I can't imagine anyone better to replace Jackson's scraggly mug.

I'll probably get some push-back over placing Mrs. Satan, who talked to spirit-guides including Demosthenes and Napoleon, on our $20. So who's your pick?


Images: Wikimedia Commons



As a Canadian, I never got why Americans hate dollar coins. One time I was in the US and got dollar coins as change from a vending machine. When I tried to use the dollar coins to pay for something at a kiosk less than 50ft away, they acted like I was trying to pay with Monopoly Money and asked if I had dollar bills instead. Can someone explain what's wrong with dollar coins?