Atlas Obscura is a website based in Brooklyn, New York, that reports the odd wherever it finds it, including paper money. A narrative recently reposted from it refers to some satirical note from the Panic of 1837, a seven-year-long recession, since the”best political cartoon in history.”
The story dates to 2016 when the redesign of this 20 Federal Reserve note and the replacement of Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman was being discussed. Many have blamed Jackson for the panic due to his refusal to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, his belief in gold and silver instead of paper money, and the following decrease in value of the privately issued paper money which had been a mainstay of much of the U.S. economy.
The so-called note is really a comment on those that opponents blamed for the crisis, mainly hard-money Democrats. It had been drawn by New York lithographer Napoleon Sarony and published by Henry R. Robinson, a Whig Party supporter who’s thought to be the most prolific publisher of lithographed political cartoons of the day.
Andrew Jackson, in drag, is at the left, dressed as Lady Liberty, also holding a knife which says”veto,” a reference to his veto of renewing the bank’s charter. The cracked globe alongside him signifies The planet, the most prominent Democratic Party paper of those times.
Jackson is also on the right side in the guise of an incontinent donkey. Jessica Lepler, associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire clarified,”He is pooping out gold money because that is supposedly what he wishes to happen to the money source.” Vice President Martin Van Buren, who’d succeed Jackson, is shown as a trained monkey, collecting in a top hat what the Jacksonian donkey is dropping. Van Buren, Lepler explained, was a vice president renowned for being a sycophant for his boss.
Van Buren is also the head of the dragon on the surface of the watch, with bags of money at a noodle branded”Treasury Department.” The wagon is being pulled by Loco Focos, a party faction most recognized with wanting the complete separation of the authorities from banking. They are being rectified by Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, the states’ rights and pro-slavery urge who encouraged Jackson on economic issues. The group is portrayed stampeding working class men and women in the road below them.
The dung beetle at the bottom has the surface of Missouri Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, another hard currency advocate. Its obligation reads a promise”to pay out of their United States Treasury, seven years after it is convenient, the sum of seventy-five cents.”
An identical 121/2-cent note in Good to Very Good condition was sold by Heritage Auctions in 2018 for $1,050.