The Andrew Jackson Foundation’s View of the Proposed New $20 Bill

Below is the email sent from the Andrew Jackson Foundation regarding the removal of Jackson from the front of the $20.

My view is that this has been handled poorly. It is important to understand people as being from their time. Values change. Were Jackson alive today would he want to own slaves? Of course not. Would he authorize the removal of Indians? Hardly. Instead, Jackson is now considered a “bad” person by many who refuse to understand the fact that times and people change.

Instead of making a production about changing the $20, and running down Jackson in the process, why not make a policy that all bills and coins are updated on a rotating schedule. Say the $1 through $20 each get changed every eight years with a new bill issued every two years; one new bill every two years and the design stays current for eight years. Don’t like that, then how about every twelve years with a new bill every three years. The $50 and $100, that aren’t used that often, could be changed less frequently, say every ten years.

Cost should not be a concern here. Collectors will snap these up and the mint turn a profit there. Bills have to be reprinted constantly anyhow. Yes, I understand there are costs with the design competition and engraving plates but who cares. The Fed has to stay ahead of counterfeiters so this could be a good way to do it.

We’ve headed down this path so let’s go full throttle. There are hundreds of “worthy” individuals and events. We should never run out of options for new bills. The major issue is to keep this out of politicians hands. Nor should design choices be made in an attempt to not hurt feelings. Just as Thurgood Marshall’s seat on the Supreme Court should never have been looked at as the “African-American seat”, bill denominations should not be played that way either. When it is time to replace Harriet Tubman, the bill should not automatically be filled with another black woman. If we are going to claim to be non-racist and non-sexist the bill must be open to all, including white men.

In the mean time, fans of Alexander Hamilton can thank Hamilton: An American Musical for his renewed popularity and most likely saving him on the $10 bill. Ron Chernow must be loving life at this point. It’s an authors dream.

Read more about the issue here. Below is the email received from the Andrew Jackson Foundation.

OUR POSITION ON THE PROPOSED $20

Dear Friends,

By now, you certainly have heard the news. On April 20, United States Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew announced plans for the redesign of the $5, $10, and $20 bills. The front of the new $20 bill will feature American abolitionist Harriet Tubman instead of President Andrew Jackson, who moves to the back of the bill and joins an image of the White House.

As can be expected, Secretary Lew’s announcement has drawn national attention and spirited conversation, both pro and con. Many supporters of Andrew Jackson and of his home, The Hermitage, have asked for our opinion of Treasury’s action.

We support efforts to diversify the representation on U.S. currency to include women and other groups not currently featured. But as keepers of Andrew Jackson’s story, we are also dedicated to reminding us all why there was an Age of Jackson, who he was, and why he was revered by so many. Therein lies our disappointment.

The announcement from Secretary Lew is a reversal of the Treasury Department’s previous position. We look forward to further discussion with Treasury. As noted last summer, by Treasury officials, Jackson too has his supporters, and no historical figure is without complication. We ask that if you would like to voice your opinion, do so by contacting Secretary Lew.

Andrew Jackson was an iconic American who was considered in his time as the second George Washington and whose own story, from Revolutionary War orphan to war hero to president, became a metaphor for the emerging American identity. He was truly a self-made man who transformed our republic from a democracy in name to a democracy indeed. He inspired other presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and was revered by both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton among others. He also owned slaves, and signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. All of these stories are on display at The Hermitage.

We value your continued support of this institution and its mission as we continue to preserve, educate, and inspire.

Andrew Jackson and The Hermitage are at the heart of America’s story. I urge you to visit his home in Nashville, Tennessee, and learn the complete story of Jackson’s life and legacy, both pro and con.

Sincerely,

Howard J. Kittell
President & CEO
Andrew Jackson Foundation

19th Annual Tybee Island Tour of Homes May 14

The 19th Annual Tybee Island Tour of Homes to be held May 14

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. – Tybee Island will host the 19th annual Tybee Island Tour of Homes May 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $35 each and lunch is included in the price of the ticket.

Guests can begin at the home of their choice and will be given a map, along with a list of homes, located on the back of the ticket. Tickets for this event can be purchased online or picked up at Chu’s Department Store, Saints and Shamrocks, or Seaside Sisters. Lunch will be served at Tybee Island Maritime Academy charter school and money raised from the tour will go to benefit the school.

For more information about the Tybee Island Tour of Homes visit tybeetourofhomes.com. For media information, contact Hannah Burnsed, Visit Tybee communications coordinator, at HBurnsed@VisitTybee.com or 912.704.8108.

New Smyrna Beach: Postcard History

I want to provide a couple of updates on my forthcoming book from Arcadia Publishing.

First is that the release date for the book has been set. It will be available September 26, 2016.

Secondly, the book is now available on Amazon for preorder. You can see the details by clicking here. Once published, I will have signed copies available for sale.

To see a PDF of the cover please feel free to click the following link:                    A Postcard History of New Smyrna Beach

Florida Historical Quarterly Volume 94 Number 3

Florida Historical Quarterly Winter 2016 Volume 94 Number 3

Special Issue
500 Years of Florida History—The Nineteenth Century: 1800 to 1870

The Historiography of Nineteenth-Century Florida—James G. Cusick
Interpreting Florida, Its Nineteenth-Century Literary Heritage—Maurice O’Sullivan
Abiaka, or Sam Jones, in Context: The Mikasuki Ethnogenesis through the Third Seminole War—Patsy West
“The Indians are Scattering I Fear”: Mobility and Power in the Second Seminole War—Christine A. Rizzi
Runaway Slave Advertisements in Antebellum Florida: A Retrospective—Matthew J. Clavin
A Flower at Elmira: The Prisoner of War Diary of Wilbur Wightman Gramling—Robert Saunders, Jr.
Another Invisible Man: Alexander H. Darnes, M.D.—Charles A. Tingley

Also included are ten book reviews.

Subscription information is available here.

New Release-Riding for the Lone Star: Frontier Cavalry and the Texas Way of War 1822-1865

Riding for the Lone Star
Riding for the Lone Star

Jennings, Nathan A. Riding for the Lone Star: Frontier Cavalry and the Texas Way of War, 1822-1865 (American Military Studies) Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2016. 464 pages, b/w photos, 5 maps, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 978574416350, $32.95.

The idea of Texas was forged in the crucible of frontier warfare between 1822 and 1865, when Anglo-Americans adapted to mounted combat north of the Rio Grande. This cavalry-centric arena, which had long been the domain of Plains Indians and the Spanish Empire, compelled an adaptive martial tradition that shaped early Lone Star society. Beginning with initial tactical innovation in Spanish Tejas and culminating with massive mobilization for the Civil War, Texas society developed a distinctive way of war defined by armed horsemanship, volunteer militancy, and short-term mobilization as it grappled with both tribal and international opponents.

Drawing upon military reports, participants’ memoirs, and government documents, cavalry officer Nathan A. Jennings analyzes the evolution of Texan militarism from tribal clashes of colonial Tejas, territorial wars of the Texas Republic, the Mexican-American War, border conflicts of antebellum Texas, and the cataclysmic Civil War. In each conflict Texan volunteers answered the call to arms with marked enthusiasm for mounted combat. Riding for the Lone Star explores this societal passion—with emphasis on the historic rise of the Texas Rangers—through unflinching examination of territorial competition with Comanches, Mexicans, and Unionists. Even as statesmen Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston emerged as influential strategic leaders, captains like Edward Burleson, John Coffee Hays, and John Salmon Ford attained fame for tactical success.

“Jennings makes a strong argument for Texas having its own ‘Way of War.’ Readers will find a new perspective to view Texas and military matters.”—Joseph G. Dawson III, editor of The Texas Military Experience and author of Doniphan’s Epic March: The 1st Missouri Volunteers in the Mexican War (Modern War Studies (Hardcover))

Thank you to the University of North Texas Press for sending a complimentary review copy.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination Date

In December 2015 my wife and I visited Memphis and we were able to tour the National Civil Rights Museum, housed at the Lorraine Motel, where King was gunned down on April 4, 1968.

The exterior of the Lorraine Motel, home of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.
The exterior of the Lorraine Motel, home of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.

Just a few thoughts and then I will share some of the exterior photos I took. The admission charge of $15, while seemingly high, isn’t that unreasonable. This is not a state or federally operated museum. According to their website, the state owns the property and the museum is operated by a 501 (c)(3) not for profit organization. This is where I take issue with the naming of the museum. The name implies a governmental endorsement but that does not appear to be the case. In addition, with the modern emphasis on Civil Rights for all people, the naming of the museum should more reflect the goal of the museum, which is the education of visitors about the Civil Rights struggles for African-Americans.

As a final aside, we found the employees and volunteers to be standoffish and unhelpful. They were more interested in getting a tour group through rather than assisting those of us, and there were several, who were paying. The security checkpoint seemed overdone and the employee working it came off as dictatorial and rude. Those working in the gift shop were more interested in talking and socializing with each other and we left without making a purchase. As a museum junkie, that is something that seldom, if ever, happens.

On to the positives, and the museum itself is a positive. This is a wonderful place. The exhibits are well done, interesting, and this is overall truly a gem of a museum; a true must see for those interested in American history. One can not tour this facility without feeling a deep respect for what these men and women, young and old, black and white, went through in order to achieve what seems like such a basic thing to us today.

Must visit attractions include the Montgomery Bus Boycott exhibit, including a sculpture of Rosa Parks seated on a bus. We Are Prepared to Die: The Freedom Rides 1961 is a truly moving experience, bringing to life the horrors that were perpetrated upon those looking to secure the most basic of rights and freedoms. The Freedom Rides encountered violence on a scale I find unimaginable, having not lived through this era.

Looking across to the building where James Earl Ray fired his shot from.
Looking across to the building where James Earl Ray fired his shot from.

The true highlight of the visit however are seeing Dr. King’s room and the area from which James Earl Ray fired the shot that killed Dr. King. The room Dr. King was staying at was a basic room, nothing fancy. Room 306 is set up as it was the fateful date when Dr. King stepped out onto the balcony, thus meeting an assassin’s bullet. A visit to the Legacy Building is a must do as well. This allows you to see where Ray was staying and the vantage point he had when he fired his shot. In addition, there is a very interesting display covering the conspiracy theories associated with King’s killing. It is unfathomable that it took two months before Ray was captured in England after attempting to use a fake passport.

This is a well done museum that is worth a visit by anybody interested in American history. It covers an important subject, one which we should never forget. Some training of staff in basic customer service skills would go a long way toward making this a more enjoyable destination.

Entrance to the National Civil Rights Museum.
Entrance to the National Civil Rights Museum.
A close up of the outside of the Lorraine Motel and Room 306.
A close up of the outside of the Lorraine Motel and Room 306.
Showing the view of King's room.
Showing the exterior view of King’s room. Kings room overlooked the parking lot as shown.

Book Review: Baseball in Pensacola

Cover image for the book.
Cover image for the book.

Brown, Scott. Baseball in Pensacola: America’s Pastime & the City of Five Flags (Sports History). Charleston:  Arcadia Publishing. 2013. ISBN 9781609497828, $21.99. 255 pages, b/w photos, index.

Baseball in Florida is big business, in more ways than one. First off, Floridians take the game seriously. Just go to any Little League game and see the pressures that parents and the players put on themselves and you’ll see that from a young age the players take the game seriously. Secondly, baseball is a huge financial driver in the state. Whether it be spring training or class A or AA baseball, pro ball is important to the communities who host teams. Finally, for fans of these pro teams, they make a huge emotional investment in their following. Just ask fans how they feel when a team leaves their city.

Author Scott Brown describes the history of baseball in the city of Pensacola, a city that due to it’s geographic remoteness is often not discussed when the subject of Florida baseball comes around. Brown takes baseball and breaks it into seven time frames. Based upon the history of the sport in the city this seems to work. In other cities, with a stronger tie to Major League Baseball, or professional baseball in general, this might not have been the best idea.

For me, one of the more interesting parts of the book was the story of baseball during World War II. Ted Williams was one of just several stars who were serving time in the military and played for the Naval Air Station team. Also the  interesting, and moving, story of locally born Toronto Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek, is a worthy read. There are plenty of other fascinating stories as well, including histories of now defunct semi-pro leagues, the building of a new ball park, and the creation of coaches as local heroes.

For me, the main problem was there was too much coverage given to “Johnny Johnson from Pensacola Junior College was drafted by the Cleveland Indians” type stories. Unfortunately, I can’t say I found myself caring. Usually these were left at short sentences with little, to no, follow up. This would lead me to believe these young men washed out quickly in the minors, like the majority do. For some, of course, they made it further, and these men received additional discussion. I suppose these stories, when taken as a whole, show just how many players are drafted from the area and that Pensacola has been a hot-bed of draftable talent.

The book wraps up with a brief coverage of the then new, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, a Cincinnati Reds AA Southern League team. Unfortunately, the team was just starting as the book was being concluded so we don’t find out much about the team. Considering the quality stadium, strong fan support, and the Reds having an A level team in Daytona Beach, it would appear that professional baseball has a strong future in Pensacola.

As with most Arcadia titles there are plenty of photos. The photos here range from classics from the early days to modern publicity shots. The quality is solid and overall they are a great addition to the text. My issue is one I often have with Arcadia titles, there are no end notes nor is there a bibliography. Having published with Arcadia I understand the space and word count restraints authors are under, however, in a book this size, this seems to be a glaring editorial oversight.

I feel this is a book that really proves the Arcadia strategy of localized books. For me, not living in Pensacola, it didn’t work so well. I can clearly see however that if I lived in the area this would probably have been a home run. Author Scott Brown has a strong resume and is president of the Mordecai Brown Legacy Foundation. His research appears to be solid and the book was easy to read.

For residents of the Pensacola area and those who can’t get enough baseball history you should pick this one up.