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JUNE 9 - JUNE 17, 2015

Grandinetti Wants Tubman on $20,
Sponsors Council Resolution Here

By Mike Hudson

JUNE 9, 2015

Andrew Jackson did a lot for this country.
Not true. Harriet Tubman did not free 1000 slaves. Historians peg the number at 19 - most of them family members. Much of her so-called "history" has been rejected by all serious historians as myth and for those not afraid of being politically incorrect - "exaggeration" or more bluntly BS.

As a boy, he served in the Revolutionary War. He later became an attorney, helped found the state of Tennessee and served as a U.S. Congressman and Senator. As a military commander, he beat the bloody British in the town of New Orleans during the War of 1812 before heading to Florida to defeat the Spanish garrison and make Florida a part of the United States. He was elected President of the United States in 1824 and, much later, Charlton Heston played him in a major motion picture.

His name was Andrew Jackson and, for all that, all he got was his picture on the $20 bill. Now Niagara Falls City Councilwoman Kristin Grandinetti is trying to even take that away.

She thinks that Harriet Tubman’s picture should be on the $20 bill. A big deal has been made about Tubman here in Niagara Falls because she may have passed through what is now the city’s North End on a train once.

Compared to Jackson, little of Tubman’s life is documented. Nearly everything that is known about her is based on a short book written by Sarah Hopkins Bradford, an author of children’s books, when Tubman was an elderly woman. Whether her age, a brain injury she suffered as a child or deliberate embellishment is to blame, the book – “Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman” – is riddled with factual inaccuracies.

The book was written to raise money for Tubman’s support, as Social Security hadn’t gone into effect yet. It did succeed in making her famous.

After escaping from slavery on a Maryland plantation, Tubman returned to lead family members and friends north in the years prior to the Civil War. She used to tell people she led 300 former slaves to freedom but most historians today believe the actual number was much closer to 19 and even the most sympathetic won’t go any higher than 70.

And that was pretty much her lifetime accomplishment.

The impetus to replace Jackson on the twenty began a couple months ago when a woman named Barbara Ortiz Howard noticed and apparently became upset about the fact that no women were depicted on American paper currency. An informal online poll was taken and Tubman came out on top with 34 percent of the vote.

She beat out Wilma Mankiller, a chief of the Cherokee Nation of Indians, and Eleanor Roosevelt, who put up with the philandering of her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose image graces the American ten-cent piece.

Here at the Niagara Falls Reporter, we did our own informal poll and the newsroom had Marilyn Monroe finishing first with Elizabeth Taylor coming in a close second.

As a historical figure, Tubman is a footnote, even among her contemporaries. Certainly, Lizzie Borden, who was acquitted of killing her parents in 1892 even though most people then and now believe she did it, has been the subject of far more scholarship, academic and popular.

Grandinetti should be more worried about the grinding poverty, high crime, declining property values and continuing exodus of educated, hardworking people the city labors under, the issues she was elected to address.





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