Harriet Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill

April 20, 2016

Submitted by: Veronica Coffin

A Treasury official says Secretary Jacob Lew has decided to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, making her the first woman on U.S. paper currency in 100 years.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of Lew’s official announcement, says that the 19th century abolitionist and leader of the Underground Railroad, would replace the portrait of Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president.

The announcement is expected to provide details on other changes being made to the $20, $10 and $5 bills.

The decision to place Tubman’s portrait on the $20 likely means that Lew has decided to keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, a victory for those who had opposed his initial plan to remove Hamilton.

CNN, quoting a senior government source, said that women will also be honored on the $10 bill, the denomination next up to for redesign, with a mural-style depiction of the suffrage movement that will replace the current drawing of the Treasury building.

Lew last week did offer some hints about where the decision may be headed in an interview with CNBC. He stressed that the government would not be just redesigning the $10 bill but also the $5 bill and the $20 bill.

“We’re not just talking about one bill,” Lew said. “We’re not just talking about one picture on one bill. We’re talking about using the front and the back of the bill to tell an exciting set of stories.”

“We’re going to have a representation of the contribution women have made to our democracy on the next bill that’s issued,” he said.

Lew announced last summer that the government was going to incorporate a woman on the $10 bill, which would mark the first appearance of a female portrait on U.S. paper currency in 100 years.

Treasury received more than 1.5 million responses to Lew’s request for suggestions on the currency redesign. That prompted him to delay an announcement, which he had originally said would be made by the end of 2015.

An online group, Women on 20s, had been campaigning for a woman on the $20 bill. Jackson’s critics say he should not be on U.S. currency because of the part he played in the relocation of Native Americans.

In a poll conducted last year by Women on 20s, Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist and one of the leaders’ of the Underground Railroad, was the top vote getter.

Lew’s initial announcement last year set off a firestorm of protests from supporters of Hamilton. They argued that the founding father had molded the nation’s financial architecture and should not be removed from his rightful place on the currency.

Hamilton fans got a boost from the interest generated by the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Earlier this year, Lew was personally lobbied by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author and star of “Hamilton,” during a meeting at Treasury. After their discussion, Miranda tweeted that Lew had assured him “you’re going to be very happy” with the decision.

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