The more I learn about Tubman, the more she demonstrates that she’s the absolute perfect face for the $20 bill. She was an authentic American hero.
Apparently there’s an HBO movie coming up based on a recent biography of Tubman. It’s got the material to be a hell of an actioner:
She carried a small pistol on her rescue missions, mostly for protection from slave-catchers, but also to discourage frightened runaways from turning back and risking the safety of the rest of the group. According to one story, she knocked out her own tooth with that pistol to stave off an infection that might have derailed a rescue mission….
When leading her charges, she would alter the tempo of certain songs, “Go Down Moses” and “Bound for the Promised Land,” or mimic the hoot of an owl, to signal whether it was safe or too dangerous to reveal their hiding places. She also used coded letters. In December 1854, for instance, she had a letter sent to Jacob Jackson, a literate, free black farmer and veterinarian, instructing him to tell her brothers that they needed to be ready to “step aboard” the “Ol’ Ship of Zion.” In other words, she was coming to rescue them.
I got a little chill reading that last bit.
On the other hand, I don’t villainize Andrew Jackson. He was a man of his time. He did terrible things, but he also extended the franchise in ways that, perversely and in the long run, ended up benefitting the descendants of the American blacks and American Indians that were the subjects of his war crimes and atrocities. If we call him a monster or dismiss him as “the American Hitler,” we deny ourselves.