Harriet Tubman To Replace President Andrew Jackson On The $20 Bill


Photo Credit: Women on 20s

On Wednesday, April 20, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, on the $20 bill. The former slave and abolitionist is the first African-American, and the first woman in over a century, to be featured on the face of U.S. currency. The last female represented on U.S. notes was Martha Washington, who appeared on the $1 silver certificate from 1886 to 1957, when the certificates were discontinued.

Tubman, who was selected by popular vote, faced fierce competition from powerful women like Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt. However, it was the African-American fighter for equality that appealed to the public the most. Born a slave in 1820 in Maryland, Tubman managed to escape while in her 20's. She then dedicated her life to helping others achieve their freedom through the Underground Railroad, a system of safe houses and abolitionists. Jackson will not disappear entirely from the bill: he will appear on the back, next to the image of the White House.

Suffragists marching in New York City in 1913. (Photo Credit: George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress)

Lew also announced design changes for the $5 and $10 USD bills. While Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton will continue to grace the front of the respective notes, the backs will feature women and civil rights leaders. The new $10 bill will have Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Susan B. Anthony — All leaders of the 1903 suffrage movement that fought for the right of women to vote in public elections and to stand for electoral office.

The $5 bill will showcase historical moments related to the Lincoln Memorial. These include events like African American classical singer Marian Anderson’s 1939 performance there after she was forbidden to sing at the segregated Constitution Hall and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famous 1963 “I have a dream” speech.

This is the most significant overhaul of the U.S. currency since 1929. However, that was certainly not Lew's intention when he asked the public to help select a woman to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 USD bill in June 2015. The denomination was due for a redesign due to counterfeiting threats, and the Treasury Secretary believed it would be a "feel good" gesture to ask American citizens for input.

Civil rights march on Washington DC on Aug, 28, 1963 (Photograph by Warren K. Leffler. Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

Almost immediately following his announcement, the online group Women on 20s began a campaign to put a woman on the $20 currency note. They believed that Jackson did not deserve to be on the bill due to his tarnished legacy that includes forcible relocations of American Indians, supportive stance towards slavery, and opposition to a national banking system and use of paper money. But another women’s group called Girls’ Lounge opposed this. They wanted a woman on the $10 bill because they knew it was next in line for a redesign.

Ultimately, the $20 bill was chosen to feature Tubman, partly due to the growing support from the public and partly because of the popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for drama. “The show has certainly caught people’s imagination, and I think it’s a great thing,” Lew said. “What we’ve been doing on the currency and what they’ve been doing on the show were really quite complementary.” Hamilton's positive legacy as one of the nation's founding father and the brainchild behind America's financial system also played a role in Lew's decision.

The final designs of the new bills will be revealed to the public in 2020, the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. The new currency, starting with the $10 bill, will enter into circulation later that decade.

Resources: Washingtonpost.com, USA today.com,treasury.gov,modernmony.treasury.gov

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  • ajg16
    ajg16Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 7:30 pm
    • ajg16
      ajg16Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 7:30 pm
      I can't wait until next year to see the designs. Hope there will be an article about it.
      • bookstory13
        bookstory13Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 10:04 am
        We talked about this in History class. While many view Jackson as a hero who conquered the British in the final battle of the War of 1812, he owned several slaves and disobeyed orders. He was ordered to invade and not to attack when we were gaining Florida into the US, and Jackson invaded and captured Spanish people living there. Jackson wrote to the free black men of Georgia to help stand for their country, but at the same time he bought more and more slaves. I support Tubman in this matter. She helped many slaves escape to freedom through the Underground. Also, there are enough men on bills. Only one woman was featured, Martha Washington, on a bill, and that was only for a short while! In conclusion, I say that Harriet Tubman should replace Andrew Jackson on the $20.00 dollar bill.
        • bookstory13
          bookstory13Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 10:34 am
          Also forgot to add something: Andrew Jackson continued to send in the request to Congress to enforce the Indian Removal Act - Jackson willingly removed most of the Native Americans from the East and forced them West. They were forced out of their homes, had no choice in the matter, were not allowed to bring anything, and were moved thousands of miles! Many of them got sick with fever and died. This is another reason why I think we should replace Jackson on the 20 dollar bill.
        • HmMonday, February 11, 2019 at 8:57 am
          For Alexander Hamilton, I don't think he should be replaced. He had led the people to the American Revolutionary War, that helped our lives tremendously. Also, he was our first ever Secretary of Treasury, and he is one of our founding fathers. I think it would be a bit disrespectful if you take him off of it.
          • cool girlWednesday, November 28, 2018 at 8:37 am
            Amazing women empowerment is the way to go!
            • moTuesday, March 27, 2018 at 7:41 am
              little confusing, but great message. It could have been more about harriet tubman though.
              • bob_mThursday, March 22, 2018 at 12:44 pm
                I have no objection to Tubman on the 20 - but there are so many that deserve a shot. Why can't our currency have an honorary bill - (A 25 or maybe use the 2). This bill would have a person placed on it every 5 years or so. John Adams, or James Madison - or even Harry Truman all deserve to be on our currency.
                • NicoleTuesday, March 13, 2018 at 5:29 am
                  I loved this message
                  • LOLWednesday, March 7, 2018 at 4:20 pm
                    He was a president, she wasn't! Make adifferent bill! Whos with me? Like and comment if you agree!!!!!!!!!!!!Why can't they just make another bill? Just saying, a 3 dollar bill would rock. Or a 75 dollar bill? Sweet. But replace A. Jackson? Uncool. Not sayin there shouldn't be women on money, just statin don't kick someone out to put someone
                    • harrietThursday, February 15, 2018 at 11:19 am
                      people should not be meny to harriet.