Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Old Hickory's troubled past
Here's how I'd like to change the twenty-dollar bill: get Andrew Jackson off it. He was a thug elected, in part, because of his fame as an "Indian killer." A brief checklist of his handiwork (courtesy of the Choctaw.com):
> Ordered the removal of all Indians to west of the Mississippi, the first example of concentration camps and genocide;
> Burned many Creek Indian villages in a six month massacre, 1813 – 1814;
> Destroyed "Negro Fort" and its inhabitants, a community of free Blacks on the Apalachicola River in Spanish Florida that served as a haven for runaway slaves;
> Executed Arbuthnot and Armbrister, two British traders at St. Marks, Florida. Although there was no evidence, Jackson believed they were plotting with the native Indians;
> Executed Creek Indian Chief Francis the Prophet at St. Marks, Florida even though he was no threat to anyone;
> Started the First Seminole War during his invasion of Florida.
Old Hickory's given a pass on these actions because of the different times. Fair enough. If we held all presidents to the standards of modern morality, we'd have trouble finding anyone before Lincoln who wasn't responsible for crimes against humanity. But there's bad and then there's Old Hickory. His actions are tantamount to an attempted genocide on Native Americans. Although American history is a rap sheet of crimes committed against the continent's native people, none was as egregious as Jackson. For many people in the country, Jackson's an embarrassment or a monster. Surely there's a president more worthy of our veneration than Jackson.
(It's not like I'm asking anyone to repudiate Jackson; though even the Soviets did so with Stalin.)