Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20
- Published: Apr 20, 2016, 11 AM
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 to vote.
"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.”
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.
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 White House.
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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