The Mass Murderer on Your $20
March 2, 2015 12:36 AM   Subscribe

He was the worst kind of populist, and believed in a shortsighted, cheap, selfish populism. The kind of populist who sneers at wussy bleeding-heart Americans like Ralph Waldo Emerson and their moralizing against Indian removal when there’s cheap land to be had. The kind who rages at the expertise of elitist eggheads like Nicholas Biddle and Henry Clay putting regulations in the way of easy profits. The kind who’s absolutely OK with Southern postmasters ripping up abolitionist pamphlets in the mail.
If the Reagan people want to put Ronald Reagan on the $20 bill and boot Andrew Jackson off, I’m all for it.
posted by MartinWisse (175 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about neither of them since they were both awful? I feel like there's a lot excluded if our apparent choice is between a president who was effectively a genocidaire and one who was either amoral or a complete stooge to help usher in 30 years of unrestrained economic plunder and plutocracy.
posted by clockzero at 12:41 AM on March 2, 2015 [77 favorites]


The author makes a good point about that: The biggest reason I’d like it if Reagan ended up replacing Jackson is that we’d have to talk about both men’s legacies, instead of just taking them for granted.
posted by gingerest at 12:58 AM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


> The biggest reason I’d like it if Reagan ended up replacing Jackson is that we’d have to talk about both men’s legacies, ....

This would not happen.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:05 AM on March 2, 2015 [99 favorites]


The author makes a good point about that: The biggest reason I’d like it if Reagan ended up replacing Jackson is that we’d have to talk about both men’s legacies, instead of just taking them for granted.

Yeah, but the right wing in this country will ignore that discussion entirely, and cult of Reagan will grow louder and more powerful with his canonization.
posted by hellslinger at 1:06 AM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


If this happens, we get to start calling twenty dollar bills "Ronnies."
posted by dogwalker at 1:13 AM on March 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


MLK on the $20. Cmon
posted by hellojed at 1:17 AM on March 2, 2015 [125 favorites]


Also Jimmy Carter needs to go on the quarter. The only time I use quarters its for laundry and I'm usually up to my neck in malaise.
posted by hellojed at 1:24 AM on March 2, 2015 [33 favorites]


MLK on the $20. Cmon

There probably are places I'd like to see favorite figures who work as symbols for something more than venality less than on currency, but I'm not sure I've made a comprehensive list.

Reagan or Jackson's image on the $20 actually seems apropos to me.
posted by weston at 1:31 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nimoy.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:33 AM on March 2, 2015 [24 favorites]


Would it cause a reanalysis of his presidency? Or another chapter on the canonization of Saint Ronald to add to the revisionist hagiography?
posted by adept256 at 1:34 AM on March 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


The Mass Murderer

Jackson or Reagan?

As millions eulogize Reagan this week, the tragedy lies in what he might have done. Today, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 40 million people are living with HIV worldwide. An estimated 5 million people were newly infected and 3 million people died of AIDS in 2003 alone.

Those avoidable deaths are the legacy from Reagan's deliberate inaction. An essay more ignorant of history would be difficult.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:35 AM on March 2, 2015 [44 favorites]


I second MLK.
posted by adept256 at 1:36 AM on March 2, 2015


I'm sympathetic to the idea of replacing Jackson by a woman.
posted by finka at 1:43 AM on March 2, 2015 [20 favorites]


Queen Elizabeth II looks great on a $20 and is not directly responsible for the deaths of large numbers of innocent people.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:12 AM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I wish US money didn't rely so heavily on governmental figures. I would enjoy money featuring Mark Twain, Groucho Marx, Dorothy Parker, Thelonious Monk, et al.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:25 AM on March 2, 2015 [50 favorites]


Queen Elizabeth II looks great on a $20 and is not directly responsible for the deaths of large numbers of innocent people.

"..yet," she purrs, as she readies her bandolier of throwing stars.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:26 AM on March 2, 2015 [55 favorites]


my vote is for Curtis LeMay
let's let our light shine, for once
posted by thelonius at 2:28 AM on March 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


Walter Cronkite
posted by i_have_a_computer at 2:47 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nimoy's already on Canadian fives.
posted by peppermind at 2:53 AM on March 2, 2015 [33 favorites]


F.D.R. I could accept that far easier than the driver of the clown car we now deal with daily.
posted by scottymac at 2:55 AM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


William Henry Harrison. The dude was President for 31 days. His only official act was calling Congress into a special session... set to begin two months after he died, it turns out.

At least he did no harm. I could really go for something benign these days.
posted by argonauta at 3:07 AM on March 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


also, the Reagan administration was directly involved in training and supporting (through the CIA and other government organizations) the forces that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Central America in the 80's, in particular in Guatemala Reagan restored funding to the Guatemalan military and had close training ties with said military while it was conducting a genocidal campaign against the Maya.

it's surprising that the author of the linked article didn't mention this, but then growing up in DC with the perennial protests against the Reagan administrations policy in central america, the author probably doesn't want to sound like a dirty hippy...
posted by ennui.bz at 3:15 AM on March 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


Pee Wee Herman
posted by fungible at 3:20 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


> "William Henry Harrison ... At least he did no harm."

So you're just going to ignore the fact that he was a strident pro-slavery advocate who lobbied Congress to change the laws to permit slavery in the Indiana Territory? And the fact that he was notorious for crafting unfair and illegal "treaties" with Native Americans that among other things caused the Sauk to go to war against the U.S.?

Dying in office wasn't, like, his only activity EVER.
posted by kyrademon at 3:21 AM on March 2, 2015 [26 favorites]


Nimoy's already on Canadian fives.
posted by peppermind at 2:53 AM on March 2 [1 favorite +] [!] [quote]


“Spocking fives” -- what a great phrase. (Set phrasers to spock!)
posted by chavenet at 3:31 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know I've posted this before but it's so apropos and good...

Choctaw rapper Red Eagle: "High Above the Clouds."

Relevant verse starts at 1:56:

Yeah I read your books
So I know my enemy
Never have your founding fathers ever been a friend to me
Removal, murder, lies, slavery
I am not American
You can't erase our memories
Murder on your dollars,
racists on your cents
Everybody asking me,
"where did the natives went?"
I tell them just like this
Pull your wallet out real quick
Look upon your twenty
Andrew Jackson was a bitch
Yeah, huh, that right there is funny
Guess that's what they meaning when they say 'blood money'

(At which point RE and his crew light $20 bills on fire in the video, which is powerful throughout).
posted by spitbull at 3:54 AM on March 2, 2015 [19 favorites]


Yeah, but Reagan totally broke the Soviet Union by supporting the Taliban. How can anyone argue that wasn't a masterstroke!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:01 AM on March 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


Franklin Delano Roosevelt - why not the greatest president of the 20th Century?
posted by tommyD at 4:14 AM on March 2, 2015 [36 favorites]


I'd rather see Leonard Nimoy on the $20.
posted by Renoroc at 4:20 AM on March 2, 2015


If this happens, we get to start calling twenty dollar bills "Ronnies."

No, then we should follow the Canadian lead and start calling them "Loonies". But Andy isn't going anywhere, even if you remove his visage. Much of US culture and politics is still heavily Jacksonian...
posted by jim in austin at 4:21 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Franklin Delano Roosevelt - why not the greatest president of the 20th Century?

Only if we can have him smoking, with his trademark foot-long cigarette holder.
posted by jfuller at 4:24 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sorry, Crazy-Preacher-Beard Walt Whitman: still not your year, no matter how much you loved America.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:31 AM on March 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


"Put this guy's face on the bill because he's not as bad as the other guy" is not only a weak endorsement of the proposal, it's an opening for a lot of people to point out that maybe, no, he probably was at least as bad. And also a figure in living memory so, unlike Jackson, there are a few million people who remember what they didn't like about Reagan's term in office.
posted by ardgedee at 4:33 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I guess you have to take Lincoln off the $5 too.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:36 AM on March 2, 2015


Franklin Delano Roosevelt - why not the greatest president of the 20th Century?

What? Just as Congress stands on the cusp of finally eliminating the last vestiges of the New Deal, you want to memorialize its creator? /s

Honestly, if we're going to put an actor on the $20, make it Henry Fonda. He played much better Presidents than Reagan ever did.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:46 AM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Chandler Bing.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 4:46 AM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Isn't this space that should be sold for advertising?

So Ronald, but McDonald.
posted by Segundus at 4:49 AM on March 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


The greatest leader the United States has ever had belongs on the $20. Emperor Joshua Norton.
posted by delfin at 4:54 AM on March 2, 2015 [36 favorites]


The obvious answer is Bill Clinton. "One Clinton, same as in town."
posted by stevis23 at 5:00 AM on March 2, 2015 [27 favorites]


As suggested by Snow Crash, if we put Reagan on a dollar bill we can call them "Gippers".
posted by neckro23 at 5:03 AM on March 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


Thirding MLK.

And though I already knew pretty much everything the article had to say about the odious Andrew Jackson, I'm glad this message is getting out there, more and more, here and there. Get that criminal asshole OFF the money, for sure.

But Reagan? No, no… bad, bad idea.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:05 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nah, leave Jackson on the $20 and put Reagan on the $100 - that man could spend. Andrew Johnson for the $50, Aaron Burr for the $10, Jefferson Davis for the $5, and let's round it out with Harding for the $2 and Nixon for the buck. And still a whole slew of miscreants and malcompetants (Buchanan, Agnew, Calhoun, Cheney, the aforementioned W. H. Harrison) for the small change.
posted by hangashore at 5:06 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Millard Fillmore on the $20.
posted by sammyo at 5:12 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


How about you take the time to consider maybe not putting yet another rich white guy on your money?

Just a thought.

And really? Reagan was better in some truly non-achronistic manner?

Tell me more about this populist leader who doesn't pander to the lowest values one can have. Because I'm all fucking ears.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:12 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Slight correction to the Red Eagle rap above -- it's

"murder on your dollars/RAPISTS (not racists) on your cents"

Either works though.
posted by spitbull at 5:16 AM on March 2, 2015


How about neither of them since they were both awful? I feel like there's a lot excluded if our apparent choice is between a president who was effectively a genocidaire and one who was either amoral or a complete stooge to help usher in 30 years of unrestrained economic plunder and plutocracy.

Reagan was personally responsible for bringing the world close to nuclear annihilation several times.

As for Harrison: yeah, he has his own mass murders at Tippicanoe to answer for.

Better choices: Wilson, FDR, JFK, even Herbert Hoover, who may have messed up the financial crisis but did great things for hungry people in Europe immediately after WWI.
posted by jb at 5:20 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bill Cosby?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:20 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Millard Fillmore on the $20.

Good one. And Tyler too!
posted by hangashore at 5:23 AM on March 2, 2015


Elvis.
posted by jonmc at 5:25 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Can we get Arthur Chu and Sarah Vowell together in a recording studio ?
posted by BrashTech at 5:29 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Whatever is necessary to allow our grandchildren to talk about "spocking thelonii".
posted by busted_crayons at 5:38 AM on March 2, 2015


Why not go the whole hog in pandering to the conservatives and put Buddy Christ on the bill?
posted by Alnedra at 5:40 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was in high school and college during the Reagan years, and it blows my mind that anyone could think of him as a "good" president. He was a cynical bastard who chuckled annoyingly at anyone who legitimately tried to make our country a better place. James Watt? Really? F*** you ronnie boy.

Just one more reason to not carry cash. Ironic though that poor people who deal more in cash will be the ones having to look at that smug grin all the time.
posted by freecellwizard at 5:47 AM on March 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


Andrew Jackson: short-tempered, violent racist with a uniform who'd kill you if you looked at him sideways. Is there anything more American than that?
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 5:48 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it too late to suggest Eugene Debbs?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:50 AM on March 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


PT Barnum.
posted by maxsparber at 5:54 AM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


PT Barnum.

I would have figured you for a Mose the Fireboy voter, maxsparber.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:57 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


How about an artist, a musician, or a scientist? How about a Native American or a woman? How about a non-politician? Or maybe not even a person.

I just don't need another president.
posted by cccorlew at 6:00 AM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


In the Total Recall reboot from a couple years ago, when Quaid opens his safe deposit box, Obama's portrait is on the United Federation of Britain's 50 note.
posted by adept256 at 6:01 AM on March 2, 2015


Ronald Reagan? The actor?
posted by dr_dank at 6:02 AM on March 2, 2015 [40 favorites]


Thomas Paine? Both the right and the left claim that guy.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 6:15 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


If we put our current President on the $20 bill, whenever you paid for something with it, the recipient could say, "Thanks, Obama!"
posted by xingcat at 6:17 AM on March 2, 2015 [23 favorites]


I prefer a stealth president - Theodore Roosevelt. The right would be jerking off into twenties because he was a Republican, the left could be satisfied with having a progressive on the bill.
posted by Ber at 6:18 AM on March 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


I vote for Eleanor Roosevelt.
posted by koucha at 6:25 AM on March 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


I prefer a stealth president - Theodore Roosevelt. The right would be jerking off into twenties because he was a Republican, the left could be satisfied with having a progressive on the bill.

Great option. Iconic. Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Already on Mt. Rushmore.

Best part, if you're against Teddy you look like a total schmuck because he's so damn likable and jolly.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:27 AM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I certainly don't want Reagan on my $20 bills. Just... no.
posted by Auden at 6:28 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I vote for Roosevelt Franklin.
posted by delfin at 6:28 AM on March 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


Teddy Roosevelt also treated Native Americans like shit, so no big improvement in my book vs. Jackson.
posted by spitbull at 6:36 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


if you're against Teddy you look like a total schmuck because he's so damn likable and jolly.

Bully!

But could we have him with some pigeons on his head and his trusty Indian sidekick?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:37 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I cast a quiet vote for Silent Cal...
posted by jim in austin at 6:40 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]




Also Jimmy Carter needs to go on the quarter. The only time I use quarters its for laundry and I'm usually up to my neck in malaise.

I am all for this because calling quarters "jimmies" sounds delightful
posted by jason_steakums at 6:45 AM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I cast a quiet vote for Silent Cal...

"Oh, man, I lost a Calvin today!"
"How can you tell?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:51 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


10 Natives Who Should Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

5 Natives Who Should Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

5 More Natives Who Should Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill

My two favorites:
Wilma Mankiller, who was born in 1945 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, was the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation in modern times. Her leadership on social and financial issues made her tribe a national role model. She served as principal chief of the Cherokee from 1985 to 1995, and during that time tripled the tribe’s enrollment, doubled employment, and built new housing, health centers, and children’s programs in northeast Oklahoma. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 by President Bill Clinton and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. [from the second link]

Vine Deloria Jr., born near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1933, was an activist, writer, and lawyer, who grew up speaking Dakota and Lakota Sioux. In 1964, he became the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, and often appeared before Congress to testify in Native civil rights cases. He published his first book, Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto in 1969. In it he argues for a return to tribal autonomy, opposes the government’s termination policy, and attacks the position of anthropologists, government officials and missionaries who dealt with Natives. According to Newsweek, the book “resolutely destroys the stereotypes and myths that white society has built up about the Indian.” The book became a national bestseller and as American National Biography Online says, “established the author as the nation’s most eloquent and provocative activist for Native American rights.” [from the third link]
posted by jaguar at 6:54 AM on March 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


Millard Fillmore on the $20.

Mallard Fillmore on the $3.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:56 AM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I vote for Roosevelt Franklin.

A fine choice-- he's the leader we need. From the link: "He taught concepts like family, pride, respect, geography and not drinking poison."
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:59 AM on March 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


I want to suggest a battery-powered $20 bill with built-in speakers. Every time you pull one out of your wallet, it just starts screaming at you. Each bill screams at a slightly different pitch, so when you're counting out big wads of cash it sounds really awesome.

The economy will get a huge boost from transactions becoming more fun and exciting. "That'll be one screamer," merchants will say.

"Why not make it two?" customers will reply.

To ensure their proper use, the screamers would hold just enough residual charge to ignite the bill when batteries are removed.

The proposal, however, is not as simple as it may seem. Although Andrew Jackson needs to be replaced, the choice of his successor will be a delicate issue. Of course, the obvious candidate is a random hooded guy wearing the Ghostface mask from the movie Scream.

But we live in a hard reality of Washington gridlock. Legislative approval for the screaming twenty requires bipartisan support. A realistic plan would put Dennis Kucinich's face on the bill and revert the entire country to the gold standard. This is an acceptable compromise, because bipartisanship is always good.
posted by compartment at 7:04 AM on March 2, 2015 [16 favorites]


Ferris F Fremont on the $20.
posted by Philipschall at 7:11 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Harriet Tubman.
posted by RakDaddy at 7:17 AM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Harriet Tubman or GTFO. She could have beaten up Jackson and Ronnie with one arm tied behind her back.
posted by emjaybee at 7:17 AM on March 2, 2015


Replace Jackson with Johnny.

Also acceptable: Elvis. Riding a utahraptor. And bashing Darth Vader with his guitar.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:18 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or maybe not even a person.

This is my favourite suggestion. Just print the damn denomination and whatever anti-counterfeit stuff is necessary on a professional white background and ditch all the sentimental bullshit. Sentimentality about this sort of thing is how we get fascism.
posted by busted_crayons at 7:19 AM on March 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


How about a boot stomping on a human face, forever?
posted by Foosnark at 7:20 AM on March 2, 2015 [17 favorites]


Why not Malcolm X on the new $20?
posted by oceanjesse at 7:20 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am all for this because calling quarters "jimmies" sounds delightful

No, Carter would have to go on a banknote- metallic coins can't rustle.
posted by zamboni at 7:21 AM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Only if we can have him smoking, with his trademark foot-long cigarette holder.

FDR was so goddamn cool I can't believe it.
posted by Gin and Comics at 7:25 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Rule 1: we have enough white dudes already. Start there. Also, since we put Franklin on the 100, we aren't limited to presidents, so why use them at all?

Rule 2: We don't need the same people on more than one bit of currency (so Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington either go completely or get reduced to one item). Though maybe we should just get rid of the damn penny already.

Rule 3: Replacing assholes with those they exploited is a great idea. So replace Jackson with a Native American. Replace Jefferson with an African-American (Tubman being the obvious one). Grant (the 50) was just not that great in general, let's boot him on that principal and put, oh, Cesar Chavez on there.

I don't know much about Hamilton, maybe he can stay.
posted by emjaybee at 7:26 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why not Malcolm X on the new $20?

I like this idea, too, for the obvious reasons plus that there's an entire demographic who'd be all shocked and outraged about this and, more importantly, more willing to part with their Malcolms than they were with their AJs.
posted by busted_crayons at 7:28 AM on March 2, 2015


Go find a picture of Frederick Douglass and tell me that dude wasn't born to be on money.
posted by theodolite at 7:28 AM on March 2, 2015 [50 favorites]


Get rid of the penny and put Lincoln on the $20!
It even sort-of rhymes.
posted by librosegretti at 7:31 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, if you are like me and get a little confused about who is on what, a handy reference here. I didn't even know there were $100,000 bills, much less that Woodrow Wilson was on them.
posted by emjaybee at 7:31 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why not Malcolm X on the new $20

You could really confuse folks by putting him on the $10.
posted by zamboni at 7:44 AM on March 2, 2015 [12 favorites]


> Also, since we put Franklin on the 100, we aren't limited to presidents, so why use them at all?

As Firesign Theater once pointed out, Benjamin Franklin is the only president of the United States who was never president of the United States.
posted by davelog at 7:44 AM on March 2, 2015 [17 favorites]


We have about six bills that have somewhat common circulation (1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100)
Choose six professions that represent the best of America: statesman, artist, author, scientist, inventor, and activist.
Get a spread of about four from 1795 to 1900 and two from 1900 to 1970. Try not to double up too much on a specific era (like Civil War).
Ensure at least two are women.
Ensure at least two are people of color.

I think this can be done.

(I'd use my statesman/white man slot on Lincoln as the only president left on there. Leave him on the five.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:46 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


As Firesign Theater once pointed out, Benjamin Franklin is the only president of the United States who was never president of the United States.

Well, yeah, him and Hamilton and Chase. Not counting dollar coins, of course.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:49 AM on March 2, 2015


> How about a boot stomping on a human face, forever?

Yeah, but whose face? All the same questions and suggestions as above, all over again. (But that would be two threads for the price of one.)
posted by jfuller at 7:51 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also Jimmy Carter needs to go on the quarter.

I'm thinking with a garland of barley and hops to celebrate his signing of the homebrew legalization law.

But only a paper bill would fit his more recent quote, "America has no functioning democracy at this time."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:56 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, since we put Franklin on the 100, we aren't limited to presidents, so why use them at all?

Franklin earned his exception.

Personally, I think we need to start making banknotes different sizes, both as an anti-counterfeiting measure and because it makes them easier to handle for the sight-impaired and in machines.

And then we should make the value of the bill proportionate to the size of the president printed on it.

No, not how big we print their image, their actual size. Put William Howard Taft on the $100 and work down from there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:59 AM on March 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


Despite being male and white, I think Neil Armstrong deserves the honor.
posted by mrhappy at 7:59 AM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


List of People appearing on US Banknotes

Running Antelope, 1896
. . . The next $5 silver certificate was issued with what the government thought would be a far less controversial symbol — a Sioux Indian chief. However, workers at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing substituted the headdress of a rival tribe, the Pawnee, on the final image. This switch precipitated not only a political scandal but caused additional ill will between the Sioux and Pawnee peoples.
-- Symbols on American Money
Images on Early Federal Reserve Notes

Martha Washington, 1886, 1891, 1896
Martha Washington's Note
The first Martha Washington $1 Silver Certificates were released in the fall of 1886.

"The adoption of the vignette of Martha Washington for the one dollar Silver Certificate was an innovation."
-- The Indiana Weekly Messenger

"The People have had for a long time with them the dollars of our daddies [a popular term for older silver dollars], but the government has at last furnished item with the dollar of our mummy. The new issue of one dollar bill is very pretty; the most striking thing about it is the portrait of Mrs. Martha Washington, and as this is the first bill issued by our government bearing a female portrait the boys are all stuck on it."
-- The Atlanta Constitution

The Series 1896 $1 Educational Series note that replaced the [original ]"Martha" was supposed to be the most artistic paper money ever put in circulation. But the original rendition of Martha Washington on the Series 1886 and Series 1891 $1 Silver Certificates kept people talking for years. To this day she is the only real-life woman whose portrait has starred on a U.S. paper money.
posted by Herodios at 8:02 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


We are the mediocre presidents
You won't find our faces on dollars or on cents
There's Taylor, there's Tyler, there's Fillmore, and there's Hayes
There's William Henry Harrison
"I died in thirty days!"

posted by dephlogisticated at 8:14 AM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thurgood Marshall, Thurgood Marshall, Thurgood Marshall. Come on.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:30 AM on March 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


If they were to have Reagan on the $20 they should include his chimpanzee costar from Bedtime for Bonzo.
posted by Green With You at 8:35 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Reagan - but only his butt.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:49 AM on March 2, 2015


Why not just Bonzo by himself?
posted by blucevalo at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've made these suggestions previously on the blue:

$5 - Clyde Stubblefield, the inventor of The Funky Drummer beat,

$16 - Dennis Ritchie. We would label them as $0x10 bills, to make them easier for computers to manipulate. Heck, they spend more time with our money than we do.

$1 - The Lab Rat, the foundation of our multi-billion dollar medical industries.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:54 AM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


The way we love money in this country, Paul Revere for $20!
posted by Oyéah at 8:58 AM on March 2, 2015


.
posted by Oyéah at 9:02 AM on March 2, 2015


Divine!
posted by sexyrobot at 9:03 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe offer to put the Kochs on it, in exchange for them going away and leaving us alone.
posted by rifflesby at 9:05 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wholeheartedly second Wilma Mankiller. Yeeeessssss.
posted by peep at 9:06 AM on March 2, 2015


Man, I'd totally be up for Taft, except for that damn income tax thing. What about Grover Cleveland? Honest, reliable, and one of the first to say "Fuck the spoils system, I'm not firing/hiring people just because of how they vote" thus greatly stabilizing the system. He also campaigned against imperialism, and took back land from the railroad barons! What's not to like?
posted by corb at 9:11 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wilson,

....who was also really racist (yes, even by the standards of his day) and who actually re-segregated the federal government and systematically drove existing African-Americans out of government. Woodrow Wilson seems to have been a pretty nasty human being, all things considered. I'd rather have Jackson, and I hate Jackson.

That said, vote yes for FDR! I'm always astonished at how little FDR appears in American popular culture, given what an influential president he was and how ridiculously popular he was during his four (!) terms. I suppose it's the taint of socialism overlaying him, but damn, we are well overdue for an FDR renaissance. (I am also in support of non-presidents, but seriously if we are going to talk about dead white presidents please let's talk about FDR instead of Washington Lincoln and Kennedy for the nth time.)
posted by sciatrix at 9:18 AM on March 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


What about Grover Cleveland?

He was on the $20 before and was kicked off for Jackson.
posted by jaguar at 9:24 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


FDR was also an American Badass.
posted by dhens at 9:25 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


He was on the $20 before and was kicked off for Jackson.

And isn't it about time we remedied that injustice? ;)
posted by corb at 9:27 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


we will put pics of those who continue to further the founding myth narratives of our nation. Look in the right places and discover our gene ideal history and presumed exceptionality. And racist history, bright here fro European sources that tried to colonize thse believed inferior world wide
posted by Postroad at 9:31 AM on March 2, 2015


Cleveland fought against women's suffrage, so I don't like that.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:33 AM on March 2, 2015


And as much as we tend to mythologize T.R., the man did flat out lie about the sinking of the Maine (which was almost certainly the result of the horrid design he himself got the navy to adopt, and for which there's, like, zero evidence of Spain's involvement) in order to get the U.S. into an unjust and unprovoked war which, again, was so that he could elevate himself as Sec. of the Navy. And the record in the Philippines that comes out of that is less than heroic.

Of course, all of that ended up working out great for Roosevelt and America, but it's still hard to cheer for. More like Ozymandius at the end of Watchmen than anything.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:37 AM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's all too human-centric. I want other species on the money, maybe animals on the coins and plants on the paper. Chicken, pig, cow, horse, cod, bee, bat, wheat, corn, rice, soy, cocoa, cotton, tea, pines, plankton, etc. I don't know what Grover Cleveland ever did for you, but I'm pretty sure you owe your life to some of those other species.

Or if it has to be primates, start with our ancestors. I want to get paid in cash, all Homo Erectus bills thanks. Or use our current primate cousins: chimpanzee, orangutan, gorilla, etc.
posted by pracowity at 9:43 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I want to suggest a battery-powered $20 bill with built-in speakers. Every time you pull one out of your wallet, it just starts screaming at you...Legislative approval for the screaming twenty requires bipartisan support.

Surely they should roar?
posted by clockzero at 9:49 AM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Count me in as one of those who remembers the Reagan Era all too clearly. If I have to see that horrifying smirking evil bastard on every $20 I pull out of my wallet - granted, that's not a lot of twenties, thanks in large part to his trickling legacy of economic doom - I will go insane. Seeing him regularly would push me right over the edge. I broke a TV in the 80s during a state of the union: it was only possible to watch if his face was tuned to bright, bright green like his lizard heart and the color never came back right again. I just hope someone's making sure the stakes and pentagrams keeping him underground haven't worked their way loose.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:51 AM on March 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


The joke when Reagan was running for Governor of California was Ronald Reagan for Governor? No, Jimmy Stewart for Governor. Reagan for his best friend.

It would be a better world.
posted by Naberius at 9:53 AM on March 2, 2015


> How about a boot stomping on a human face, forever?

Yeah, but whose face?


We want to avoid any offense, so...

More seriously, my vote is for Harriet Tubman. I was thinking the other day that it's weird that there hasn't been a feature film about Tubman. Has there? According to Wikipedia there was a 1979 TV miniseries but that's about it. She was such a badass that a really amazing film could be made about her. If nothing else it's near perfect Oscar bait.
posted by brundlefly at 9:58 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


No love for John Adams? He's not appeared on much of anything to speak of.
posted by gudrun at 10:04 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Replace everyone with national parks. Old faithful on the 1, Mt McKinley on the 5, delicate arch on the 10, Grand Canyon on the 20, General Sherman on the 50 and the everglades on the 100.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:05 AM on March 2, 2015 [19 favorites]


Roosevelt would probably have enjoyed that more than seeing himself on the 20.
posted by brundlefly at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


It should probably be something that causes people to keep one or two around, leading to more currency being taken out of circulation. First thought, Elmo.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:08 AM on March 2, 2015


Tippecanoe was not a mass murder. That battle was essentially Tecumseh's brother fucking up the confederacy Tecumseh was building.

And if I had to pick someone more or less contemporaneous with Jackson, I'd pick Quincy Adams. That man does not get enough love.

Otherwise, MLK or Susan B Anthony (again.)

Or Dolly Madison, so I could go the the grocery store and trade some Dolly Madisons for some Dolly Madisons (if they ever resume production.)
posted by CincyBlues at 10:14 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Control-F "corporate avenger": 0 of 0.

20 Dollar Bill by Corporate Avengers: lyrics

(Come to Corporate Avengers for '20 dollar bill', stay for 'the bible is bullshit').
posted by el io at 10:25 AM on March 2, 2015


And then we put Ed Meese on the five, right?
posted by Robin Kestrel at 10:27 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


How about we honor non-statesmen with our money (like so many other countries do)? Emily Dickinson! Walt Whitman!
posted by Bromius at 10:28 AM on March 2, 2015


Dolley Madison.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:29 AM on March 2, 2015


I'm glad to see any story written about how odious it is to have Andrew Jackson on the $20. I don't think his genocidal culpability is well understood. At least I got to be nearly 40 years old before I really got it.

I'm in favor of putting American scientists on our currency. As a bonus it would make it easier to have some women and people of color than the politicians we have now. Alternately we should just put Ben Franklin on every banknote.
posted by Nelson at 10:29 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


That motherfucking union-busting, lil bitch doesn't deserve ANY accolades.

Old hickory sucks...yeah...maybe. But rather than replacing him with just anybody, how about with someone that people would say "yeah...that's who deserves to be remembered on the $20".

sheeet.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:32 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I always rip Jackson's face off my $20s.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


A snowman, since pretty soon we won't be able to actually build them any more. A whole series of winter-themed banknotes - snowflakes and ice skaters and squirrels wearing earmuffs.
posted by newdaddy at 10:38 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Morph all the Presidents into a single face and put that on the $20.
posted by mazola at 10:55 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Looking at the portraits of Frederick Douglass got me re-reading his history and his writings again - The fact that his portrait is PERFECT is only one of so many good reasons to have him replace Jackson. Bringing him into the awareness of the citizenry would be incredible, especially when racial relations have re-entered the political discussion with a fury.
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:03 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


You are not kidding about Frederick Douglass. This portrait would make for some bad-ass currency.
posted by Nelson at 11:15 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Meh, six of one...
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:20 AM on March 2, 2015


Though maybe we should just get rid of the damn penny already.

A-fucking-men. The Kiwis did it a long time ago.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:31 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Alternately we should just put Ben Franklin on every banknote.

$100 - Ben Franklin
$50 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt
$20 - Aretha Franklin
$10 - Roosevelt Franklin
$5 - Rosalind Franklin (yeah, English, I know, just go with it)
$2 - Franklin Pierce (meh)
$1 - Harriet Tubman (because she's badass, whynot)
posted by hangashore at 11:35 AM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


As long as we're enumerating the racist policies and positions of the various presidents who have been mentioned as alternatives, it's worth remembering that FDR presided over the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
posted by Copronymus at 11:37 AM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


If it doesn't have to be a president, I vote for Grandmaster Flash. If it has to be a president, then Eric B.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 11:55 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


it's worth remembering that FDR presided over the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II

Yet another reason to opt for Eleanor:
"'A Japanese is always a Japanese' is an easily accepted phrase and it has taken hold quite naturally on the West Coast because of some reasonable or unreasonable fear back of it, but it leads nowhere and solves nothing. Japanese-Americans may be no more Japanese than a German-American is German...All of these people, including the Japanese-Americans, have men who are fighting today for the preservation of the democratic way of life and the ideas around which our nation was built."
[from a 1943 magazine article penned by Eleanor Roosevelt, herself]
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:01 PM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Uncle Floyd.
posted by jonmc at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


bugs bunny
posted by pyramid termite at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


$100 - Ben Franklin
$50 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt
$20 - Aretha Franklin
$10 - Roosevelt Franklin
$5 - Rosalind Franklin (yeah, English, I know, just go with it)
$2 - Franklin Pierce (meh)
$1 - Harriet Tubman (because she's badass, whynot)


Needs more Bonnie Franklin.
posted by mazola at 1:16 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


And Franklin Bluth.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:18 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Replace everyone with national parks. Old faithful on the 1, Mt McKinley on the 5, delicate arch on the 10, Grand Canyon on the 20, General Sherman on the 50 and the everglades on the 100.

If turning our money into pictures of national parks meant that we were less likely to sell out our national parks for money, I might get behind this.

But I have my doubts.

If the relationship between the flag and the first amendment is any indication, once we elevate something to a symbol we seem quite capable of defending the symbol while selling out what it stands for.
posted by weston at 1:19 PM on March 2, 2015


Needs more Bonnie Franklin.

We can't do all the Franklins at once. We need to take it one day at a time.
posted by delfin at 1:28 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


bugs bunny

Or, hell, Alfred E. Newman.
posted by rifflesby at 1:54 PM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I cast a quiet vote for Silent Cal...

Judge Cal.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:18 PM on March 2, 2015


How about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
posted by aryma at 3:41 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I believe you mean Notorious RBG.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:53 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


How about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

In all honesty, if they wanted to phantom-honor Reagan in a way that myself and others might find palatable, Sandra Day O'Connor isn't an awful choice. (Obviously RBG would be preferable, or Thurgood Marshall as I'm going to keep saying, but still. Also RBG is still alive. That tends to cause some problems with these things.)
posted by Navelgazer at 4:08 PM on March 2, 2015


Squeaky Fromme...
posted by AJaffe at 5:18 PM on March 2, 2015


Muddy Waters!

He invented electricity!
posted by Chitownfats at 5:24 PM on March 2, 2015


The doge.

Actually, dogecoins. On money. That's pretty meta.
posted by busted_crayons at 9:44 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Everyone forgets Richard Independence.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:32 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Prof. Harold Hill
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:28 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I vote John Muir.
posted by foobaz at 3:44 AM on March 3, 2015


if turning our money into pictures of national parks
The Quarters are already on the job.
posted by soelo at 7:42 AM on March 3, 2015


Perhaps, like the Europeans, we could honor some of the great bridges of our country.
posted by zompist at 9:28 PM on March 3, 2015


Perhaps, like the Europeans, we could honor some of the great bridges of our country.

And quick, you know, before they collapse.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 AM on March 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Cats. I've got some great pictures.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:29 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Perhaps, like the Europeans, we could honor some of the great bridges of our country.

That weren't real, but are now.
posted by maxsparber at 10:03 AM on March 4, 2015


I'm shocked—shocked—that no one has mentioned Chester A. Arthur yet.
posted by goatdog at 7:13 PM on March 4, 2015


Clinton.

George or Bill.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:18 PM on March 8, 2015


A-fucking-men. The Kiwis did it a long time ago.

Yes, and then they screwed over all the consumers by introducing a messed up form of "swedish rounding" where a bill for $0.54 turns into $0.60.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:09 AM on March 9, 2015


Clinton.

George or Bill.



Free your OB-verse . . . and your RE-verse will follow.
posted by Herodios at 10:23 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, and then they screwed over all the consumers by introducing a messed up form of "swedish rounding" where a bill for $0.54 turns into $0.60.

I find the lack of dealing with pennies more than makes up for the few cents extra you pay. YMMV.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:33 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Women on 20s
posted by salix at 2:57 PM on March 9, 2015


jaguar: "What about Grover Cleveland?

He was on the $20 before and was kicked off for Jackson.
"

So, if we put him back, he'd be serving two non-consecutive terms!
posted by Chrysostom at 9:27 PM on March 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


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