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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Next Up? That Andrew Jackson Statue Downtown

File:Andrew Jackson statue County Courthouse KC Missouri.jpg

Think about this.

Last weekend, writer, reporter Steve Kraske, of the Kansas City Star and KCUR, the local NPR station, penned an article in the Saturday paper calling for the renaming of the J.C. Nichols fountain on our own Country Club Plaza because, well, the fact is, Mr. Nichols was a blatant, very public racist.

And sure, there are and will be plenty in the city who think it's crazy and/or unnecessary and/or just out and out stupid.

But the fact is, the City Council is meeting today and talking about doing just that.

On another local blog today I saw a comment and it made me realize what's next.

Yeah, that Andrew Jackson statue downtown? The one in front of the County Courthouse?

It will be next up for evaluation.

You want racist? It just doesn't get any more racist than US President Andrew Jackson.

And it's not just that he was racist, though that's bad enough. He's been listed as one of the nation's worst presidents for years and for a range of reasons. Here are links to just three articles, of many, many that are available, spelling out how awful he was.

Here is just a bit for which he's known.

When Jackson was inaugurated, he held a party in the White House to which anyone was invited. People trashed the place, even snipping bits out of the curtains as souvenirs. This story confirmed all the worst fears of Jackson’s critics. His predecessor, John Quincy Adams, who Jackson had defeated in a horrifically bad-tempered election, was so horrified by Jackson’s triumph that he refused to attend the inauguration – the last outgoing president in history to have boycotted his successor’s big day. Men like Adams – who came from a Massachusetts family that had fought for Independence and feared for the survival of the republic (particularly his father, John Adams) – saw Jackson as a profane, unprincipled demagogue; a would-be tyrant in the Napoleonic mode; a man with no respect for the checks and balances of the Constitution or the rule of law.

The first president to have risen from lowly origins, Jackson became famous as the general who had defeated the British at the battle of New Orleans in 1815. Previously known for buying a slave plantation in Tennessee (in 1803) and for taking part in a high-profile duel (with Charles Dickinson in 1806), after the battle of New Orleans he went on to win more fame fighting the Seminole Indians.

In office, Jackson was an aggressive wielder of the president’s hitherto unused veto power. He stopped Congress from spending money on new roads or canals, and he prevented the re-charter of the Bank of the United States, which had attempted to regulate the money supply and served as a lender of last resort. And whatever political challenge he faced, his language was hyperbolic. “You are a den of vipers and thieves,” he wrote to the directors of the Bank of the US, “I intend to rout you out, and by the eternal God, I will rout you out”. When he left office, the country was plunged into the deepest recession anyone could remember.

So, yes, Steve Kraske's idea and proposal struck a lot of people unawares but with all the removal of statues of racists first in New Orleans, then in St. Louis and the national conversations its inspired, I would absolutely look for this one to come up, too, shortly.

Like it, agree with it or no.

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