If you're brilliant, industrious, and extremely lucky, you will leave your name in the annals of history. All you have to do is invent something lasting and iconic, and even if they don't realize they're doing it, people will speak your name every single day. Like the vaunted Baron Von Eggbeater, creator of -- you guessed it -- Von's grocery store. But be careful what kind of legacy you leave, or you'll be remembered forever for something you totally despise, as if you were granted a wish from one of those dickhead genies that have to twist everything around. Just look at ...
5Andrew Jackson Hated Paper Currency, But His Face Was Put On A Banknote
Anyone who's handled U.S. currency will recognize Andrew Jackson, whose harshly judgmental visage adorns all modern $20 bills. Having your face plastered on money is supposedly the greatest honor a politician can hope for. But don't tell Jackson that -- both because of what we're about to tell you, and also because he was generally an unpredictable maniac.
Those who stayed awake in American history class will remember one of the largest issues surrounding Jackson's reelection in 1832: the Bank War. While the majority of the legislative branch wanted to reauthorize the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, Jackson fought the effort every step of the way. The bank was meant to regulate public credit created by private banking and maintain a stable national currency. But Jackson disagreed with federal banking on principle, arguing that it only benefited the rich. And what he hated most about it was the idea of money made out of paper instead of something innately valuable, like gold or silver.
Museum Of American Finance
That's a whole lot of words for what amounts to "I will stab and choke every asshole banker I see, so help me God."
Jackson lost his war against paper, but never stopped warning people about it. In his farewell address, he said, "But experience has now proved the mischiefs and dangers of a paper currency, and it rests with you to determine whether the proper remedy shall be applied."
Since the U.S. started getting way from the gold standard in 1933 -- eventually abandoning it entirely in 1971 -- it's safe to say that Jackson might be a bit miffed that his name and likeness are stamped onto over eight billion pieces of this "worthless" paper. And you don't want to make Jackson miffed. You wouldn't like Jackson when he's miffed.
United States Mint
We've already got him green. Don't push it.
4Gerrymandering Was Named After Someone Who Opposed The Practice
Hulton Archive / GettyImages
"Gerrymandering" is a shady little trick that state governments use when dividing up districts to ensure that one party wins most of the seats in the House, even if most of the voters belong to the other party. Here's a diagram:
The term was invented by the editors of The Boston Gazette in 1812, in response to a new map of electoral districts in the state of Massachusetts, redrawn after the signing of a bill by the state's governor, Elbridge Gerry. The story goes that the artist, Gilbert Stuart, came into the editor's office one day and saw the map, grabbed his pencil, drew a head, claws, and wings on it, then said, "That will do for a salamander."
The rare winged, beaked, tailless, not-at-all-a-goddamn-salamander salamander.
The editor retorted, "Better say a gerrymander." Hyuck, hyuck!
Anyhoo, that's how American politics got power-fucked by a terrible pun.
Elbridge Gerry was hesitant to sign the bill into law, specifically because he thought it was completely unfair. The guy responsible for designing lopsided district maps was Patrick Henry. You know, the "Give me liberty or give me death" guy. In the nation's first congressional election, Henry would also have rather gotten a nice gift of death than let James Madison win a seat in Congress. He specifically looked up past voting results and redrew district lines based on those votes, attempting to guarantee that the election would not go in Madison's favor.
George Bagby Matthews/Thomas Sully
"If you're all out of liberty, give me pettiness. I enjoy that, too."
Despite his reputation, Gerry hated "gerrymandering." In fact, he hated party politics in general, and as governor, he opened a meeting of both Massachusetts Houses of the Legislature by saying that the time had come to "terminate an unnatural, dangerous and disgraceful spirit of party" and "that we are all Republicans, that we are all Federalists."
But most importantly, you are all judged harshly by a severely disappointed Elbridge Gerry.
The Houses responded to his call for union by, at that very meeting, writing a redistricting bill drawing boundaries which would heavily favor the Democratic-Republicans. Gerry disclosed frequently to many fellow politicians and friends how "exceedingly disagreeable" this plan was. He considered sending the bill back to the Houses with his objections, but ultimately, his country was less than three decades old and he was terrified of setting a precedent which gave someone in his position such power over laws. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, he signed the bill.
The Boston Gazette honored his difficult decision by coining a term which forever associated his name with the shitty practice he hated. Despite Federalists winning almost 51 percent of the vote in subsequent elections, 29 of 40 Massachusetts Senate seats went to Democratic-Republicans. One of the only D-Rs to lose their seat in that election? Elbridge Gerry.