Thursday, April 21, 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Fare Thee Well, Old Hickory

No, the new $20 bill will NOT be a Bozo Buck

It looks like Andy Jackson is moving to the back of the buck.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced Wednesday a redesign of the nation's $5, $10 and $20 bills. On the $20, President Andrew Jackson is being moved to the backside of the bill while Harriet Tubman will replace him on the front.

For those who don't their history, Tubman was born a slave in 1822. But she escaped to her freedom and went on to become an abolitionist, a spy for the Union during the Civil War and a major player in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to non-slave states.

Most the folks I talked to Wednesday were glad to see Jackson go.  After all, he was a slaveholder and dedicated advocate of removing Indians from their homelands in the southeastern U.S. The Trail of Tears? That was his. He signed the Indian Removal Act which forced many Southern tribes to Indian Territory (now known as Oklahoma.)

And I agree, Tubman's a better choice. But still, somewhere inside me I hear the voice of Johnny Horton and feel some bittersweet nostalgia for Old Hickoy.

Here's what I'm talking about:

I've known this song since I was a little kid. But I didn't realize until recently that it's a descendant of a song, written in 1821 by one Samuel Woodworth.

It's called "The Hunters of Kentucky," though it's also known as "The Battle of New Orleans" "Jackson and Kentucky" and "Half Horse or Half Alligator." Jackson himself used the song as his campaign theme both times he ran for president (1824 and 1828.)

Here's a version by a singer named Tom Roush.

While searching for Andrew Jackson songs last night (somehow I thought there would be more) I found a group from Arizona called the Andrew Jackson Jihad. They're pretty cool, but they're demoting Andrew Jackson too. A couple of months ago they shortened their name to simply AJJ. "Interesting historical figure as he was, he was an odious person and our fascination with him has grown stale," the band said.

Old Hickory can't get a break these days.

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