Liberals and progressives are celebrating the Treasury’s decision to replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 21, 2016
In addition to denouncing him as a “slaver, ethnic cleanser, and tyrant,” Dylan Matthews at Vox excoriates Jackson for his “small-government fetishism and crank monetary policy views” that supposedly “stunted the attempts of better leaders like John Quincy Adams to invest in American infrastructure, and led to the Panic of 1837, a financial crisis that touched off a recession lasting seven years.”
In fact, the Panic of 1837 was created by the institution Jackson eliminated—the Second Bank of the United States. In the 1830s, within the period of twelve months, the federal government’s central bank expanded the money supply from forty to seventy million dollars.
“This enormous expansion, entirely uncalled for by any peculiar circumstance in the business condition of the country, was followed by the invariable consequences of an inflation of the currency,” writes William Leggett.
The influx of paper or fiat currency led to massive speculation, particularly on land, and inflation increased after federal deposits were withdrawn based on the assumption the government was selling land for state bank notes of questionable value. The subsequent recession lasted five years.
Matthews and big government liberals also ignore the fact infrastructure spending prior to Jackson and the elimination of the centralized national bank was largely a speculative enterprise without much purpose. Business speculators “dug canals where no commerce asked for the means of transportation, they opened roads where no travelers desired to penetrate and they built cities where there were none to inhabit,” writes Leggett.
Jackson understood what granting an exclusive monopoly over money would do to the economy. The financial class, he declared, collude to establish “artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society—the farmers, merchants, and laborers—who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government.”
“I can perceive none of those modifications of the Bank charter which are necessary, in my opinion, to make it compatible with justice, with sound policy, or with the Constitution of our country,” Jackson said on July 10, 1832.
According to the apologists for centralized banking, those of us who “complain of the injustice of their government” are conspiracy nuts and supporters of a “slaver, ethnic cleanser, and tyrant.”
It is true Jackson kept hundreds of slaves on his Hermitage plantation and imposed severe terms on the Creek and other Indians. It is also true he fought against the spoils system, advocated for the elimination of the electoral college, and called for term limits to fight against government corruption.