On April 20, Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew “announced the most sweeping and historically symbolic makeover of American currency in a century.” He is, among other things, “proposing to replace the slaveholding Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist….” This past Friday I read an article in which Pat Buchanan protests against this substitution. To begin with, he cites the fact that “In Samuel Eliot Morison’s ‘The Oxford History of the American People’ there is a single sentence about Harriet Tubman: ‘An illiterate field hand, (Tubman) not only escaped herself but returned repeatedly and guided more than 300 slaves to freedom.’”
Buchanan contrasts this with the fact that Morison “devoted most of five chapters to the greatest soldier-statesman in American history, save Washington, that pivotal figure between the founding Fathers and the Civil war—Andrew Jackson.” I think Mr. Buchanan may be right about the historic significance of Andrew Jackson’s tenure in the White House (though along with many he tacitly undervalues the significance of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military and Presidential career.) But in the way he contrasts Tubman with Jackson, he falls into the obvious snare the Obama faction has prepared, a snare calculated to justify the false notion that all opposition to the proposed substitution must be motivated by contempt for enslaved blacks, and their descendants.
As if anxious to make their intended snare even more effective, Mr. Buchanan offers nothing to mitigate the prejudiced view of Jackson that seems to justify the substitution he opposes. He cites the fact that he was a slaveholder, also “responsible for the Cherokees’ “Trail of Tears.” He likens Jackson to “Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe” who “were slaveholders before him….; and to Truman and Churchill, whose bombings of Hiroshima and Dresden, in the midst of war, he equates with the forcible eviction of peaceful Cherokee tribes, under color of law, but in evident violation of the principles of natural justice. Buchanan uses these comparisons to justify the conclusion that “great men are rarely good men”.
However, the more reasonable conclusion would be that great men are also human beings. As such they are driven by self-interested passions against the effect of which “neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control.” (cf. Federalist #10) They are just as likely as other people to violate the precepts of natural justice. In this respect, their greatness is, in the first instance, simply a matter of the greater material power they have to abuse.
Mr. Buchanan’s protest would have been more effective if he had started with this characteristic of “greatness” in the context of America’s public affairs. There was no doubt that Harriet Tubman was, by all accounts, a good person, with more than her share of courage. But her courage was needed precisely because she did not wield great material power. She relied on the power of her trust in God, with whom she frequently consulted in fervent prayer. Moreover, she proved her faith by her extraordinary willingness to follow His instructions.
In the eyes of “purblind worldlings” Harriet Tubman’s faith does not equate to “greatness.” But she lived in view of God rather than the world. She saw herself as the instrument of His greatness, not her own. She cared rather for His glory than the world’s praise. Tubman, I’d venture to say, couldn’t care less for the esteem Obama’s God-hating administration offers, because it comes from death cultists whose holy of holies is worshipped with the slaughter of lives even more innocent than the lives of the enslaved people she risked her life to liberate. Like the Democrats who advocated for the expansion of slavery in the 19th Century, the Obama faction’s true motive is greed, fed by the love of luxury and power. What they obtained in that era by degrading people in slavery, they obtain today by degrading all humanity with slaughter, from the moment of conception.
In their proposal to honor her, God makes mock of their utter deceitfulness. He knows that her spirit stands today with those who bear witness to His truth outside the abortuaries that are their houses of worship. He hears the prayers of those who truly share her faith; who trust in God that their courageous witness to His truth can liberate our nascent posterity from the evil realm of spiritual death, inflicted against the sacred precepts of the natural law by which He commands the preservation of innocent humanity.
I oppose their Satanic abuse of her memory, but not because Andrew Jackson made a greater contribution to America than she did. I oppose it because putting her face on something often mistaken as the idol of greed, for which she and her brethren were abused as animals, is an insult, not an honor. I oppose it because she is due is more than all the honors Obama’ faithless workers of iniquity could ever conceive. Indeed, their abuse of her memory insults her work, her faith, the worship that her life raised up unto her Lord and Her Savior—the true Liberator, not only of the slaves she helped to free, but of the nation she helped to inspire to war against slavery itself.
Obama and the Democrats are also anxious to stop the nation from remembering that Jackson exemplifies their Party’s long commitment to slavery, and the subsequent regime of racist discrimination that perpetuated its abuse of Black Americans. I do not wonder that Mr. Buchanan fails to understand that Harriet Tubman’s true greatness puts her beyond the esteem or subtle defamation of both Obama’s minions and those who oppose them. Mr. Buchanan is, after all, one of the Trumpeters, who rely on Donald Trump’s specious promise to restore America to the very greatness, careless of God-endowed right and justice, that Pat Buchanan nonetheless extolls in Andrew Jackson.
Given its source, and its expedient partisan intention, I say all Americans of conscience should oppose the defamatory “honor” Obama’s God-defying death cultists propose to bestow on Harriet Tubman. As for Andrew Jackson, I say leave him where the Providence of God has placed him in our history. I contend that the whole project to erase this nation’s memory of the fundamental moral issues at stake in the war for the Union serves a tyrannical project. That project aims ultimately to enslave the whole of mankind to the whims of an elitist few.
But Andrew Jackson’s political career and Presidency represent something else. They display the intention of Providence for the destiny of the American people. In that intention people altogether human, and therefore prone to be sinners and workers of iniquity, prove that they may be tools in the hands of God, despite their own sinful, selfish passions.
For all his faults, Andrew Jackson helped to promote the nation’s loyalty to the Union, premised on principles of God-endowed right and decent liberty. To be sure, in Jackson’s day, the American people was not yet ready to practice those principles toward all humanity. But he both exemplified and championed the courage, grit and elemental decency of the “commoners” the rest of the world still esteemed unfit to govern themselves. And unlike today’s elitist faction powers, Jackson never let go of the vision of decent self-government America’s Founders cherished as our national vocation.
During the American Civil War, those common people divided against themselves, sloshing through fields muddied by their own blood. On one side and the other they fought in the name of liberty. One side misconceived it as licentious freedom. The other, more properly for Americans, conceived it as the commitment to practice God delimited right. In the end, as Lincoln thought, God’s judgment determined the outcome. But as the era of war subsided, Daniel Webster’s slogan rang down from Jackson’s time to capture the common sense that was to help Americans unite again, as a people — “Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable.”
Do we wish to honor Harriet Tubman’s memory? Then let us all make sure the liberty she strove for is once again upheld. It is not the liberty to enslave and denigrate humanity, or kill its nascent future in the womb. It is the liberty to follow our God-encoded willingness to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly together toward the common good He has prescribed for all.
Such liberty is balm to soothe the self-division of our all too human soul. It is, at least in prospect, “the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free”: the liberty that divides our soul from sin, but reunites it in the life that springs from God’s forgiveness. Provided, of course, that we do not forget, or cease to strive, toward God’s perfection. That goal may always elude our grasp; but it need never outlast the hope that rises, whenever like Harriet Tubman, “In God We Trust.”
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.