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Harriet Tubman will be on the new $20 bill

Good.

The U.S. Treasury has decided to keep Alexander Hamilton on the front of the new $10 bill, after encountering fierce opposition to its plans to replace the founding father with a woman, Treasury officials said Tuesday. The Treasury will feature the portrait of African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, which now features former president Andrew Jackson, while Jackson will appear on the reverse of the bill, officials said.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will announce decisions regarding several bills on Wednesday, officials said.

Last summer, Lew announced that the Treasury was considering removing Hamilton from the $10 bill, to allow a woman to appear on the front of the currency for the first time since Martha Washington was taken off the $1 silver certificate.

The Treasury was moved in part by a viral campaign in early 2015 to put a woman’s portrait on the new $20 bill in 2020, to mark the 100 year anniversary of women’s right to vote. The group “Women on $20s” received more than 600,000 online and in person votes a choice of 15 different women. Tubman received the most votes.

Treasury announced plans in June 2015 to honor a woman on the $10 bill, which was already slated for a redesign in 2020. The bills are regularly reworked to stop counterfeiting.

I like this better than replacing Hamilton on the $10, and I say that as someone who has not seen the musical. ATMs dispense a lot of $20s, so they will be more visible, and Jackson was problematic, to say the least. Now let’s see about getting more than one woman on our paper money. We’ve had multiple concurrent designs for the quarter and the dollar coin, why not have multiple designs for the various dollar bills as well? There’s already going to be an alternate design for the $5 that will have civil rights leaders on the flip side from Abe Lincoln. Why not choose one or more of these women for that, then do the same on the $1, the $2, the $10, the $50, and the $100. We’ve gone over 200 years without having women on most of our currency. We’ve got a lot of making up to do. NPR, The Intersect, Daily Kos, Kyrie O’Connor, the Slacktivist, and Kevin Drum have more.

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7 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    Might be a tough time to be a bill accepter manufacturer if lots of changes occur, especially if we have multiple, different, faces on the bills.

  2. brad says:

    Harriet Tubman is an excellent currency note choice to replace a racist bigoted president who create the genocide of many Native Americans.

  3. Steve Houston says:

    Ross, quite the opposite. Those who manufacture, sell, or otherwise make money from those devices will do quite well when the new bills come out, just as they do ANYTIME changes are made the require new equipment. There are many millions of legacy devices out there that will need to be updated to accept the bills and only a small, select group of people that will be able to service them…

    As far as the specific changes, has there ever been a change that everyone liked? For the hand wringing crowd, everyone on current forms of currency has something in their background to offend, some were slave owners, others imposed the federal government over states’ rights in direct conflict with how things were established, and still others were far from morally pure. I think the new art work looks pretty interesting and given I don’t generally carry a lot of cash on me, it doesn’t bother me to change things from time to time, but this is nothing new.

  4. Paul Kubosh says:

    What Steven said.

  5. Brad says:

    Steve, not sure i agree with your gloss over of the “everyone has a few skeletons in the closet” comment for currency portrait figures. Jackson was a murdering bastard.

  6. Steve Houston says:

    Brad, this is not the first time people have discussed the matter and it won’t be the last. As far as Jackson standing out from the others, applying a modern day standard to acts our forefathers engaged in seems fruitless, keeping him on currency also allowing folks to remember settling this country wasn’t all John Wayne and rainbows (having personally walked portions of the Trail of Tears, I am aware of government policies that caused widespread grief but you won’t find many presidents free of such entanglements, nor others without fault).

    Thanks PK.

  7. brad says:

    Steve,

    “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”

    Got it. Thanks for putting it into perspective.