Alexandra nails it: Old Hickory should go, not Hamilton

Alexandra P

Alexandra Petri, making Hamilton’s case with sweet reason, plus an appropriate dollop of moral indignation. Harrumph.

I’ve become something of an Alexandra Petri fan, but just over the last couple of months. Which means I missed her excellent piece back in June about why it is so very wrong to replace Alexander Hamilton on the sawbuck, and not Andrew Jackson on the twenty.

She totally nailed it, as usual:

Word leaked Wednesday night that, yes, by 2020, there will be a woman on our currency. But not, as the campaign Women on 20s suggested, on the $20. On the $10 bill — in place of Alexander Hamilton.

This is horrible.

This had better be a stealth campaign by the U.S. Treasury to gain support for removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 and replacing him with a woman. Otherwise, it’s unforgivable.

This is change I do not believe in.

What cretin decided to make Hamilton go and let Andrew Jackson stay? Andrew “Indian Removal Act” Jackson? Andrew “Literally Murdered A Guy” Jackson? Andrew “Who cares what the Supreme Court rules” Jackson? Andrew “The Coolest Thing I Did As President Was Throw A Giant Cheese-Themed Houseparty” Jackson? He gets to stay? Look, I’ve thrown giant cheese-themed parties. I don’t belong on any currency. And, unlike Jackson, I had no responsibility for the Trail of Tears….

She nails it so well, I’m going to risk the wrath of The Washington Post‘s lawyers and go to the edge of the Fair Use envelope and jes’ stretch it a might, the way ol’ Yeager used to do out there over the high desert (as they haul me off, I’ll be screaming, “Call E.J. Dionne! He’s a friend of mine! And I know Kathleen Parker! And her husband, Woody! Do you know who I AM? I once had lunch with George Will!”), because I’ve just gotta give her reasoning for why Alexander Hamilton is so deserving:

Never Hamilton! Hamilton is a hero. Hamilton built this country with his bare hands, strong nose, and winning smile. He was the illegitimate son of a British officer who immigrated from the West Indies, buoyed by sheer force of intellect, and rose to shape our entire nation. His rags-to-riches story was so compelling that if he hadn’t existed, Horatio Alger would have had to make him up. Hamilton gave us federalism and central banking and the Coast Guard! He served as our first Secretary of the Treasury. He fought in the Revolutionary War. He started a newspaper. He weathered a sex scandal! He saved us from President Aaron Burr. He successfully imagined our country as the federal, industrial democracy we have today and served as an invaluable counterweight to Thomas Jefferson’s utopian visions of a yeoman farmers’ paradise. He founded the Bank of New York! He was so good at what he did that the Coast Guard was still using a communications guidebook he had written — in 1962! He was a redhead! He should be on more currency, not less. He should be on all the currency!…

Amen to all of that.

Had I lived back in those days, I’d have been a Federalist, so it’s good to see someone sticking up for our guy. (Although, as Federalists go, I prefer John Adams.)

Since I’m so late acknowledging this fine piece, here’s a video in which she reiterates her points (and which is on the Post’s website today):

11 thoughts on “Alexandra nails it: Old Hickory should go, not Hamilton

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Ms. Petri had another nice piece today out of the debate last night, making fun of the way Hillary Clinton keeps saying that you shouldn’t vote for her just because she’s a woman, but just FYI and for the record, in case you hadn’t noticed, she IS a woman, and because of that WOULD be the first female president, if elected.

    My favorite part:

    She is a mother. She is a girly, womanly, female, feminine dame, like which there is nothing, as they sang in “South Pacific.”…

    Oh, wait — the part right after that is great, too:

    Not to rub it in, but when Outkast says “All right all right all right now LADIES” she says “Yeah!” and puts her hands in the air, because she is a lady. Who would be a female president, were she elected….

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I love that bit: “like which there is nothing…”

      Reminds me of Churchill’s apocryphal “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

  2. Mark Stewart

    Keep Hamilton, remove Andrew Jackson as he is the least deserving President on our currency. While they are at it, it would be great if Grant were also removed from the $50 bill and Jefferson from the $2 bill. Put James Madison on the $50 and kill off the $2 bill. Also terminate the penny, please.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Ah, but should we keep the $1 bill? No disrespect to Washington, but it’s kind of weird to have that still.

      But we’d need to replace it with a really nice, substantial coin — none of those cheap, gimcrack things the Mint has been putting out for my whole adult life.

      The British pound coin is a hefty, thick, satisfying object to hold. It feels real; in inspires confidence. It looks and feels like it’s WORTH a pound. The dollar coins we’ve seen the last few decades seem like those cheap doubloons they throw at Mardi Gras…

      1. Mark Stewart

        The $1 bill will be around before all change but the quarter disappears under the sofa cushion of history.

  3. Kathleen

    I have just read both articles and were I interested in being president of anything, it would be the Alexandra Petri fan club.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, I hope you’re prepared for a tough race, because you’d be running against me. Although I’ll have to admit right up front to the voters that I am not a girly, womanly, female, feminine dame, and that could cost me…

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Something went wrong with the embed code on that video. I’m going to see if I can get it to work in a comment, since it’s not working in the post:

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