Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Rerun: 5 Jacksons make one Benjamin

I'll betcha twenty bucks you don't know what's made of 75% paper and 25% cotton and has been around since 1861.

If you answered, "Regis Philbin," I'm sorry.  The correct answer is "The United States Twenty Dollar Bill," and now you owe me one.

A US twenty bears a flattering portrait of our seventh U.S. President (1829–37), Andrew Jackson, and he's been there since replacing Grover Cleveland on the front side of the bill since 1928. This is why Little Richard and I call a 20 a "Jackson," and why our granddads had to stop calling them "Clevelands," which led to the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  The photo at left shows Mr Little Richard asking for more 20s.

This is a sawbuck

Some of us still call a twenty-dollar bill a "double sawbuck" because a ten-dollar bill is often nicknamed a "sawbuck" because the Roman numeral for ten (X) looks like a sawbuck.  This usage was out of style at about the same time everyone realized no one knew what a sawbuck was. 

What's funny about Andrew Jackson being on the $20 is that when he was president, he was vehemently opposed to both the National Bank (the Revolutionary Era Bank of North America) and to paper money.  The main goal of his administration was to dismantle the National Bank. And he decried the use of paper money in his farewell address. (As a nation, we began using paper money during the Civil War, when metals used for coins were in short supply.)

So naturally, we put this man, who hated paper money, on paper money. 

Now we are engaged in a debate about taking his image off the double sawbucks, and surely Old Hickory would approve.  There's a push to replace him with a great woman in our history, and if there is a shortage of twenty dollar bills in many pockets, we have no shortage of worthy women.  Click on the link and make your choice! 

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