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Harriet Tubman is your potential replacement for Jackson on the $20
Move over Alexander Hamilton, the U.S. Treasury plans to add a woman on the $10 bill beginning in 2020, reports USA Today.
And Jack Lew, the Secretary of Treasury, says, you –the public– will have a great say about just which female historical figure should appear on the U.S. paper currency for the first time in 119 years, writes the news outlet.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time this summer listening to people,” Lew said, according to USA Today. While a decision could come as soon as the fall, it will take nearly five years for the new bill to begin to circulate because of planning, new anti-counterfeit measures, and features for the blind, the report says.
From USA Today:
Even then, Alexander Hamilton isn’t going away. The first Treasury secretary played a leading role in developing the nation’s financial system, and has been on the $10 since 1928. And there he’ll remain, either on the reverse side or in a separate series of bills. Also, the 1.9 billion $10 bills now in circulation will likely last another 10 years.
The news means that Andrew Jackson, the 19th century Democrat, gets to remain on the $20 bill. Last month, some people–not Raven-Symone–celebrated when it was reported that Harriet Tubman was being considered for the $20.
An online petition earlier this year urged the administration to replace Jackson with abolitionist Harriet Tubman by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. But Lew said the primary consideration was the security of the currency — and the $10 bill was next in line for an upgrade.
No woman has appeared on new paper currency since Martha Washington on a $1 silver note until 1896. Pocahontas was first, gracing a $20 note beginning in 1865.
Harriet Tubman still has our vote, whether she appears on the $10 or $20. Who are some other candidates? Let us know in the comments.
(VIDEO) Should Rosa Parks Face Be On The $20 Bill?
"Women on 20s," a campaign started earlier this year that has since inspired bills in the House and the Senate, is trying to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on $20 bills. (WomenOn20s.org)
A group that wants to kick Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with a woman has, after months of collecting votes, chosen a successor: Harriet Tubman.
Tubman, an abolitionist who is remembered most for her role as a conductor in the "Underground Railroad," was one of four finalists for the nod from a group of campaigners calling themselves "Women on 20s." The campaign started earlier this year and has since inspired bills in the House and the Senate.
The other three finalists were former first lady and human rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt; civil rights figure Rosa Parks; and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. Women on 20s delivered a petition with the people's choice to the White House on Tuesday morning.
“Our paper bills are like pocket monuments to great figures in our history,” Women on 20s Executive Director Susan Ades Stone said in an e-mailed statement. “Our work won’t be done until we’re holding a Harriet $20 bill in our hands in time for the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020.”
[Harriet Tubman vs. John Hanson: A Statuary Hall smackdown at the U.S. Capitol]
In all, the group said, it has collected more than 600,000 votes for its campaign.
On Wednesday, Ades Stone said that a deputy for senior Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett had reached out to Women on 20s in response to the campaign. White House staff will hold "an informational meeting" with the group, Deputy White House Press Secretary Jennifer Friedman confirmed in an emailed statement.
Harriet Tubman mock-up, provided by Women on 20s
In Tuesday's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Tubman was a "wonderful choice" for the bill, but stopped short of saying whether the President backs putting Tubman on the $20.
If the government agrees that it's time to replace Andrew Jackson on the bill, its choice might not end up being Tubman. But the idea of putting a woman on America's paper currency has attracted some notable support.
"Last week, a young girl wrote to me to ask why aren't there any women on our currency," President Obama said in a July speech in Kansas City, before the launch of the Women on 20s voting campaign. "And then she gave me a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff -- which I thought was a pretty good idea."
Although the Women on 20s campaign plans to petition the White House, it is the Treasury Department that ultimately makes decisions on which bills feature which portraits. The last overhaul of paper money portraits by the department was in the 1920's, when Jackson replaced Grover Cleveland on the $20.
[Why is Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill? The answer may be lost to history.]
U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios also commented on the campaign in late April. "What I can say?" Rios told Fortune. "We're engaging in a collaborative process to move the discussion forward." Rios noted that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is ultimately in charge of currency design.
A Treasury spokesperson declined to comment on the specific Women on 20s campaign, but said that "there are a number of interesting currency ideas."
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced a bill in April that would ask the Treasury Department to convene a panel of citizens to discuss the issue of putting a woman's face on America's paper money. The panel's findings would then go to the secretary of the Treasury. "That's the way it was done back in the 1920s," Shaheen told The Post last month.
Shaheen also noted that her staffers spoke to the Treasury Department about the potential cost of changing a bill's portrait. The department makes minor design changes to paper money every seven to 10 years for security reasons, the staffers found. The $20 is "overdue for that redesign," Shaheen said. Her office concluded that changing the portrait as part of one of those redesigns means there's "not a lot of cost involved" in putting a woman on the bill.
[Why a U.S. senator is trying to put a woman’s face on the $20 bill]
Shaheen, for her part, has declined to say if she has a personal choice for which woman should appear on the $20. "I think there are, going back to the revolution, lots of women whose contributions have been significant and have not gotten the same kind of attention," she said.
Tubman is certainly one of those women. After she escaped the slavery she was born into in Maryland, Tubman returned to the South at great risk to herself, over and over again. She made 19 trips to the South, rescuing 300 slaves from captivity by most accounts, although historically documented details of Tubman's life and work are sparse. She is said to have a perfect record as a conductor for the Underground Railroad.
A historical marker on the Dorchester County, Maryland, property where the Brodess Plantation stood. Tubman lived and worked on the property in her early years. (Dorchester County Tourism Department)
During the Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union army, at first as a cook and nurse. Eventually, she was recruited to work as a spy for the Union. As the Smithsonian magazine notes, Tubman became the first woman in U.S. history to lead a military expedition. Her 1863 mission with Col. James Montgomery at Combahee River helped to free more than 750 slaves, the magazine writes.
Despite all this, Tubman struggled to receive any compensation from the government for her time serving the Union. She successfully petitioned Congress for a raise on the pension she received for the service of her second husband, initially $8 a month, to $25 a month. However, she was paid just $20 a month until her death in 1913.
In 2003, Congress passed an appropriations bill that included a little over $11,000 in back pay for the pension Tubman received. However, as Ward DeWitt, then executive director of the Harriet Tubman Home Inc., told the New York Times in 2003, Tubman still never received a pension for her own considerable military service.
The Women on 20s campaign aimed to change the portrait on the $20 bill for a couple of reasons: First, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote is in 2020. And second, while Jackson may have been a relatively uncontroversial choice for the honor when he was selected in 1929, he was an enthusiastic supporter of policies that were harmful to the Native American population, including the measure that led to the Trail of Tears.
For that latter reason, Women on 20s is not the first to suggest that it might be time to retire the Jackson $20 bill
Womenon20s.org is fighting to get a woman’s face on the $20 bill and they want it done by the year 2020. Check out what they had to say on their site…
W2O: THE ELEMENTS OF EQUALITY
We at Women on 20s applaud President Obama for acknowledging that it’s time to put a woman’s face on our paper currency. In fact, for almost a year we’ve been plotting to petition him to do just that. It struck us, for instance, that most Americans today have no idea that there was another woman behind Susan B. Anthony — Elizabeth Cady Stanton — who was instrumental in ensuring the rights that women enjoy today.
As an organization, it’s our mission to make sure that when the new face of U.S. money is chosen, it is decided by We the People in a widely publicized online referendum from a slate of candidates who embody the values, ambitions and ethics upon which this country was founded.
Why The $20 Bill
2020: THE CENTENNIAL
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. So it seems fitting to commemorate that milestone by voting to elevate women to a place that is today reserved exclusively for the men who shaped American history. That place is on our paper money. And that new portrait can become a symbol of greater changes to come.
MEET SOME OF THE CANDIDATES BELOW…WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
ALICE PAUL (1885 – 1977)
“There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”
Fierce crusader, hunger striker and strategist whose 10-year campaign led to women’s right to vote. A lawyer and social worker, for 50 years she headed the National Women’s Party, fighting for an equal rights amendment.
BETTY FRIEDAN (1921 – 2006)
“The problem that has no name — which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities — is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease.”
Her book, The Feminine Mystique, is credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism. Founder and first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), she organized the nationwide “Women’s Strike for Equality” on 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
SHIRLEY CHISHOLM (1924 – 2005)
“Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.”
First African-American woman elected to Congress and first majority-party black candidate for U.S. President. Advocated for minorities, women and children. Changed public perception of the capabilities of women and African-Americans.
SOJOURNER TRUTH (C.1797 – 1883)
“We do as much, we eat as much, we want as much.”
Born into slavery and escaped into freedom, she sued a white man to recover her son. Illiterate, she traveled widely, speaking for abolition and women’s rights. Counseled freed slaves & tried unsuccessfully to get them federal land grants.
RACHEL CARSON (1907 – 1964)
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
Her work and groundbreaking books in the 1950s & ’60s spurred the modern American environmental movement. A trained zoologist, her book Silent Spring exposed the dangers of pesticide use, leading to a DDT ban and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
ROSA PARKS (1913 – 2005)
“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.”
Saluted by Congress as the “first lady of civil rights,” she challenged racial segregation by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her arrest, and the ensuing Montgomery bus boycott, became symbols in the struggle for racial equality and civil rights in the United States
Barbara Jordan (1936 - 1996)
“Through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in 'We, the people.'”
First African American elected to Texas Senate after reconstruction and first black woman from deep South elected to US House of Representatives. First black woman to deliver keynote at Democratic National Convention
Harriet Tubman (c.1822 - 1913)
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Born a slave, she fled North to freedom, later making 19 trips back to the South as an Underground Railroad conductor, leading some 300 slaves to freedom. A nurse during the Civil War, she served the Union army as a scout and spy. She was active in the women's suffrage movement after the war