Not Another ‘Corrupt Bargain’: Andrew Jackson Gets the Boot Again by Washington
“The corruptions and intrigues of Washington … defeated the will of the people.”
That might come close to Andrew Jackson’s sentiment if he could comment on his image is being removed from the $20 bill. Those were at least his words after losing the presidential election of 1824 to John Quincy Adams.
This time he was vanquished by Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist and early leader of the Underground Railroad, who will replace him as the first woman on paper currency.
Jackson supporters today could accurately say it was a decision out of Washington, to be more precise the Treasury Department. But no one “defeated the will of the people.” Quite to the contrary actually. Tubman won a poll conducted by the online group “Women on 20s.”
So in this currency case, there is no evidence of a “Corrupt Bargain,” which Jackson and his backers alleged after Speaker Henry Clay moved the House of Representatives to back Adams for president.
As currency elections go, Jackson was booted. But the power of incumbency worked for Alexander Hamilton – who managed to stave off an attempt to remove him from the $10 bill.
Both Jackson and Hamilton are a significant part of my book “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections“, which details the two elections decided in the House of Representatives.
Jackson won the popular vote and a plurality of electoral votes in a four-man contest of 1824, but didn’t win a majority. Jackson used his loss in the House and the “Corrupt Bargain” mantra to mount a comeback in 1828, where he won and became famous for shutting down the national bank, and infamous for the Trail of Tears and establishing the spoils system. Tainted by Suspicion also explores how America would be different if Jackson had emerged the winner of the 1824 election.
After an Electoral College tie in 1800, it fell upon Hamilton to convince the lame duck Federalist-controlled House to support his long-time nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, over Aaron Burr. The book also explores how America would have dramatically changed if Burr had become president.
For now, the people have spoken – or at least the the Treasury Department has. So, in the spirit of 2016, maybe it’s time for a victory party for Tubman and Hamilton.
(This post was initially published on Stairway Press blog.)