Published on Friday, December 2, 2016 by Shannon Keyser
While many features differ from country to country, there are a few things that every country has in common. One of those is currency. Despite all of the flaws and problems that money can cause, it is necessary to keep a country running smoothly. Since money is such an instrumental part of a well-functioning nation, it would make sense that the country would want their currency to portray something important to them. One of the most common forms of doing this is putting a historically important person on their money. This is the reason why Andrew Jackson, one of the most controversial presidents ever, is being moved to the back of the $20 bill. The civil rights activist Harriet Tubman will replace Jackson on the front of the bill.
While this might seem like a good thing, I can’t help but feel that Harriet Tubman is not the best choice for the front of the $20 bill. Though she was historically important, it feels like this choice was made out of a thirst for political correctness instead of her actual actions. What do I mean by this? To start with women were considered for the $20 bill, dismissing half of the eligible population for the position. Then they chose Harriet Tubman, an African American woman. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with choosing her, I get the impression that she was chosen simply because of her race and gender and less because of her actions and contributions to the US, which were significant.
I am not saying that Harriet Tubman is not important. She was one of the biggest leaders in the Underground Railroad and served as a Union spy during the Civil War. However, I feel like in people’s haste to find certain kinds of historical figures, they overlook others.
So if I don’t think that Harriet Tubman should be on the $20 bill, then who should be on the bill? My solution is James Madison. This important historical figure has almost been forgotten in the shadows of history. Chances are the majority of people don’t know what he did, but they should. Without him, the United States may not have been able to become the successful world power it is today.
James Madison was a founding father of the United States and was the author of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Though the Constitution did have some flaws fixed by the Bill of Rights and other amendments, it has actually worked. Perhaps it is hard to appreciate the difficulty of creating laws for a country until it must be done. Keep in mind that he had to come up with the concept of branches of government and figure out how to distribute the power so no one group would be in total control. Though there were other democracies before the United States, the US is arguably the oldest, most powerful form of democracy. Madison also had to think of every possible scenario that could happen and develop a balanced solution to all of them. The fact that Madison was able to create the Constitution and it go through only 27 amendments throughout the nation’s entire history is impressive to say the least.
Secondly, he was the fourth president of the United States. Being elected president is not an easy thing, both in gaining and serving the position. However, when Madison was president, Britain tried to take America back over again, resulting in the War of 1812. This war is sometimes skimmed over and left in the shadows of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and World Wars, but it is important none-the-less. If Madison had not led us to victory, we would have become part of Great Britain again, changing our history dramatically. No war is easy to fight. Like in all other wars, decisions must be made that will often result in sacrifices, but as Commander-in-Chief, Madison was able to lead this fledgling nation to victory against a country with one of the strongest militaries in the world.
Finally, as touched on earlier, not many people know much about James Madison. Compared with some of the other founding fathers and presidents, he has been somewhat lost in the midst of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, just to name a few. What better way to honor and give publicity to a person than placing him on currency? In elementary school, I remember how we learned who was on our currency and why they were on there. It wasn’t until late elementary school that I realized that it was James Madison who wrote the Constitution. If we put him on our currency, people will learn more about him and thus more about American history that has been overlooked.
Though Harriet Tubman may be a good person to someday put on our currency, we should also remember the overlooked founders of our nation. Even though we don’t have enough currency to put everyone influential, James Madison has proven he is qualified to be on the $20 bill.