The U.S. Treasury recently decided to replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman. NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep wrote a book about Jackson. He says he sees parallels between the former president and the leading candidates for the job in 2016.
Interview Highlights: Steve Inskeep…
…On the parallels between Jackson and Donald Trump:
“I think you have to say it carefully because they’re not similar in a lot of ways. It’s not that they have the same issues or the same ideas; it’s that Donald Trump has this tone: ‘I’m going to fight for you, my supporters. I’m going to fight for the people I perceive as my people. I’m going to do whatever I have to do. I don’t care what tactics I use and I don’t care who gets hurt.’ That was the tone Andrew Jackson had with his supporters.
"Now there are also huge differences. Though Jackson’s portrayed as an outsider, he was a particular kind of insider and spent decades in government before he ran for president. He didn’t show up one day and say, ‘I’m qualified for this job.’”
…On what Jackson shares with Bernie Sanders:
“[Jackson] actually crusaded against, fought against and destroyed the Bank of the United States, which was the central bank of its time. He said moneyed eastern elites had gotten too cozy with this institution, were profiting by it, and that was endangering democracy....
"With that said, there’s huge differences there [between Jackson and Sanders] as well. The most significant was Jackson did not believe in a strong governmental intervention in the economy in any way. He had a very different view about government than someone like Sanders would today.”
…On being in Jackson's home state of Tennessee when the Treasury decision came down:
“People, at least in the area where I was, applauded, which surprised me a little bit because there are a lot of people who revere Andrew Jackson in Tennessee, were raised to revere Andrew Jackson. I think there’s still a lot of support for him, but it’s a little quiet right now."
…On how Jackson delayed the Civil War:
“He was dubious of federal power until he became the federal power. It’s an accomplishment of his that when South Carolina began spinning out of the orbit of the union in many ways, he dragged them back. In fact, he said, ‘I will raise an army of hundreds of thousands of men and crush you if you do not come back. In the end, they worked out a compromise, South Carolina stayed, and the Civil War was put off for another thirty years.”
Steve Inskeep co-hosts NPR’s Morning Edition and is the author of ‘Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab.’