Two Tough Birds–Only One Bill

There is so much news coming at us, I feel like I need the radar system of a Patriot Missile Battery to pick up all the incoming. Whatever will happen to cable news if we go back to normal…? As you faithful followers know, this is a very eclectic column. You never know what will appear. Oftentimes that’s because neither do I until I sit down to write it. There are weeks I make lists of topics and keep crossing off and adding as Sunday comes closer and closer. Not infrequently something catches my eye or happens to me not long before I take my seat.

I’ll give you an example. Last Saturday morning I was reading the paper. I found a fairly small, seemingly insignificant article that actually spoke to what is becoming a roiling social discussion. As I prepared to do some research to fill out what I already knew and think through the “moral of the story” I wanted to transmit, I got caught up in finishing a promise I had made to myself. That promise, or the frustration in trying to complete it, resulted in last week’s column pushing the original for last week up to today.

I must tell you, I love the title. And I thought of it all by myself. In a nutshell, the article is, in general, the decision of whether or not to change the face of the twenty dollar bill. In specific it is if there is something behind the just-announced six-year delay (that’s year, not month) is designing the new plate, which according to the rapidly breeding, Washington, DC species called the anonymous source has been announced by the Secretary of the Treasury. In one corner we have the reigning champion former General and former President Andrew Jackson best known for merciless policies against native Americans and legendary battle, now legendary country and western song, The Battle of New Orleans. In the other corner, we have a little, old feisty black woman named Harriet Tubman. Most of her work was done underground, so to speak.

In between is the story, which follows. As I was taught in guide school for my license in Washington, DC, the Jackson inaugural party was “something else.” In short, his woodsmen friends from Tennesee and veterans from various battles fought under him like New Orleans, had a grand ole time. The whiskey consumption was nigh on spectacular so were the people swinging from chandeliers, flying through windows, and crunching furniture as they landed atop it from a good ole right cross to the jaw. The end, which came during the wee hours, left the “People’s House” looking like the aftermath of a fraternity party or an Air B&B house rented for joyous partying.

The solons of government were revolted–and angry. They were more revolted and even angrier when the President sent a “reparations” bill to them repair the place. Jackson probably hung over and in pain was in none-to-good a mood. It got worse when Congress turned it’s nose up at the request. Jackson vowed his revenge and came time to plan and place the Department of the Treasury building he placed it directly in the sightline that was to run unimpeded from the White House to the Capitol Building where it now forever sits blocking the view architect Charlie Piere L’Enfant had worked so hard to create in his plans for the capital.

So that’s a little insight into the man who graces the twenty-dollar bill. He was also a racist. His replacement will be Harriet Tubman, she the chief “engineer” of the Underground Railroad. A life-risking job. She a spy for the North during the war– a life-risking job. She who after the war set up an organization to help the wounded, the impoverished, the homeless amongst her fellow African-Americans after the war, a job done by a person who in heart and soul knew right from wrong.

Let’s play the balance game. On the one hand, we have a nasty, racist, drunk, chaos causing General who was less than special as President of the United States. On the other hand, we have a small, black civilian woman who was either risking her life for others or raising and spending money to help others, money from which she gained nothing for herself. Who would you have represent the United States of America every time a person near to us or far from us takes out a twenty-dollar bill. On the merits of it, that would be Ms. Tubman,  hands down–at least from my perspective.


This essay is Bill Gralnick’s call to you all to text, email, write, or call your Congressional representatives and have them tell Mr. Manuchin that a six-year delay is unacceptable.

For more thoughts on more subjects see Bill’s writings on his website: http//

And remember his mantra, “Read: It’s good for both of us”


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