The U.S. Treasury announced in a Wednesday afternoon press release that Harriet Tubman will indeed
replace Andrew Jackson on the face of the $20 Federal Reserve note.
The Underground Railroad pioneer was the leading vote-getter in a 2015 poll
sponsored by the Women on 20s campaign, which made headlines last year
as it advocated for replacing Jackson with a woman.
Today's decision represents a change in direction for Treasury
Secretary Jack Lew, who in June 2015 pegged the $10 FRN as the
denomination that would don a notable woman's portrait.
"Since we began this process, we have heard overwhelming
encouragement from Americans to look at notes beyond the $10,"
Lew wrote in a letter that accompanied the press release. "Based
on this input, I have directed the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to
accelerate plans for the redesign of the $20, $10, and $5 notes."
Lew said he anticipates that final concept designs for the new $20,
$10 and $5 notes will all be unveiled in 2020 in conjunction with the
100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right
"The decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 was driven
by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and
old," Lew wrote. "I have been particularly struck by the
many comments and reactions from children for whom Harriet Tubman is
not just a historical figure, but a role model for leadership and
participation in our democracy."
Jackson became the target of Women
on 20s as a president who was behind the mass relocation of
Native Americans by way of what is commonly called the Trail of Tears.
Women on 20s officials expressed their excitement over Wednesday's announcement.
“We are delighted that the parties involved in the decision are
united in their commitment to the goal of honoring women in this most
visible fashion,” founder Barbara Ortiz Howard said. “It’s high time
to get the party started.”
Executive Director Susan Ades Stone said, “We had been looking to
this Treasury Secretary to put a woman front and center as soon as
possible and powerfully inspire the quest for gender equality going
forward. Today’s announcement is an important step in moving us closer
to that goal.”
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It was first reported over the weekend that Lew
wanted to replace Jackson on the $20 with a woman that was a prominent
figure in the fight for equal rights. CNN anticipated that the new $20 note would not
be placed into circulation any sooner than 2030.
Lew's new approach means that Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father
getting lots of attention in popular culture these days, will be
staying on the $10 Federal Reserve note after all.
Lew had until recently maintained that the $10 note, which needs
design updates most, for security purposes, would be the likely place
for any anticipated change and that replacing Jackson was not being considered.
Disapproval of replacing Hamilton rather than Jackson resurfaced
when the cast of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton met with Lew
in an attempt to persuade the secretary to keep Hamilton, a Federalist
who served as the first Treasury secretary and was behind the
establishment of a central bank, on the money.
RELATED: It's always controversial: Are we closer to
replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 note with a woman?
Under Lew's plan, the back of the $10 FRN will be redesigned to
honor the fight for women's suffrage.
"Treasury’s relationship with the suffrage movement dates back
to March of 1913, when advocates came together on the steps of the
Treasury building to demonstrate for a woman’s right to vote, seven
years prior to the passage of the 19th Amendment," Lew wrote.
"The new $10 design will depict that historic march and honor
Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, and Alice Paul for their contributions to the suffrage movement."
Jackson will still have a spot on the $20 FRN. Lew said an image of
him will appear on the back of the note along with a portrait of the
Abraham Lincoln will continue to appear on the face of the $5 FRN,
but the redesigned back of the note will depict historic events that
have occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.
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