Old Hickory and Old Money

A Case of City Mouse and Country Mouse

Villains. Our history has more of them than our comic books. Why? Question the narrative and you begin to unravel a well-packaged web of lies sold to you by a propaganda machine hell-bent on keeping us all under a barely disguised totalitarian boot. Question the narrative and what you end up with is a mess, not a gleaming and undeniable truth. It’s complex and frustrating, but it’s not what they told us in history class. It’s not what they told us on big screens or small. It’s not what they told us in our newspapers and magazines. We were lied to, and that is the first and most important truth to which we must cling. The rest of the intricate mess will unravel in time if we stop believing the lies.

I’ve just seen a few minutes of the evening news. It seems they’re still throwing around the idea of removing Jackson from the twenty dollar bill and replacing him with Harriet Tubman. Anyone who knows the history of the banks knows why, and it has nothing to do with honoring Tubman. No, that’s just empty appeasement. Jackson didn’t want a central bank, so why would they want him on their currency? It was nothing but a smug slap in Jackson’s weathered face and a smug reminder to those who’d fight the bank today ~ you’ll lose.

Of course, the shady history of the banking cartel was never mentioned by the perky newscaster. Instead, it was the trite but effective Jackson was cruel to the Cherokee and Tubman rescued slaves! As if that’s all we remember. Some of us remember more, so much more. Old Hickory didn’t just fight the Cherokee ~ which must be judged in context ~ he also fought the Bank of the United States, the forerunner to the Federal Reserve, in the person of Nicholas Biddle in a confrontation fit for any tall tale. Jackson was a roughened man from the frontier, a simple but stern fellow from the country, while Biddle was what Jackson’s neighbors’ would call one of them fancy city folk, wealthy and refined. They first clashed in 1832, a re-election year. The bank’s charter was good for four more years, but Biddle shrewdly petitioned for early renewal thinking Jackson wouldn’t stir the pot too much during an election year; he was wrong. Jackson vetoed his appeal for renewal and all hell broke loose.

Biddle used his pull with Congress (pull meaning he was giving them pay-offs) to offset the President and they ate up his offerings like pigs at a trough. While Biddle pulled government strings, Jackson pulled the heartstrings of the citizens. He won the election and promptly saw to it that all new federal deposits went to state banks, not the central bank. No, the central bank was used to pay expenses. Jackson wanted to empty Biddle’s accounts, of course, but the shrewd banker countered by contracting the money supply and ceasing all loans. Economic hardship ensued and Jackson was blamed, for a time.

The fancy fellow from the city was just too full of himself, however, and was overheard one too many times boasting of how he’d broken the economy and the President as well. Public opinion turned. Jackson was cut from a different cloth, more like the citizens. As this played out in front of the nation, the governor of Pennsylvania, where Biddle was from, publicly denounced the bank and its director. That was it. A committee was formed to investigate both Biddle and the bank but he flatly refused to cooperate. Congress was at a loss; if they pressed on he could blackmail all of them.

No matter, at this point Jackson had succeeded in paying off the national debt and had even stacked up a surplus which he then gave back to the states. That’s when the bullets started flying, though Jackson was spared thanks to a misfire. It was 1835 and the would-be assassin was found not guilty due to insanity, only to be later witnessed bragging about the wealthy and powerful Europeans who were protecting him thus confirming Jackson’s complaint that the bank was unduly influenced by foreign interests. Clearly, Jackson had won. By 1836, the charter for the Bank of the United States expired and Biddle was finally arrested and charged with fraud.*

Yes, it’s a hell of a story, and only part of the legacy of Old Hickory. He also expanded the power of the federal government and the executive office to points from which they have unfortunately never returned. He did this by sheer force of character, and that is the kind of soul it takes to fight the entrenched banking cartel. We need another such soul, one with iron sides. Like Old Hickory, this warrior will have a tainted past and an unmatched ego, but what else can slay monsters?

*For a thorough but manageable account of Jackson and the Bank of the United States, see G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve.



Rachel Summers