Harriet Tubman: The New Face Of $20

Anna Brecher, Editor-in-Chief

In June 2015, Secretary of Treasury, John Lew, proposed to innovate the $10 bill.  He encouraged help from the public in choosing a public figure to replace Alexander Hamilton on the bill.  However, following the release of the hot Broadway musical Hamilton in August 2015, Lew decided to keep Alexander Hamilton on the bill.

People opposed the change to the $10 bill, as Hamilton’s achievements were emphasized in the Broadway show: founder of the first Bank of the United States, the first Secretary of Treasury.   Hamilton is credited with elevating the status of America as a world power in the late 18th century by revamping the economic system.  As a result,  Lew decided to keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, and instead replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.  

Jackson has a controversial legacy.  On the one hand, he was a Civil War hero, winning the Battle of New Orleans in 1812.  In addition, he was considered a man of the people, a relatable political figure.  However, on the other hand, Jackson persecuted the Cherokee Native American tribes who lived east of the Mississippi River.  Jackson orchestrated the Trail of Tears journey, a forced relocation of Native Americans from Georgia and colonized areas to Oklahoma, western undomesticated land.  Thousands of Native Americans died during the treacherous journey due to harsh climates, poor access to resources, and sleep deprivation.  Jackson reasoned that the relocation would be beneficial to the Cherokees as they would not have to compete with colonists for resources.  However, in reality, the Trail of Tears had a devastating impact on the Cherokee population and demonstrated the oppression that they faced.

After hearing input from different associations across the United States, Lew decided that Harriet Tubman would be the replacement figure on the $20 bill.  Harriet Tubman is a famous abolitionist, Civil War spy, and leader.  She escaped enslavement during the Civil War, seeking safety and freedom in Pennsylvania.  However, she jeopardized her freedom to help lead  hundreds of slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad.  Tubman is a historical symbol of female empowerment, liberty, justice, and suffrage.  It is predicted that the new $20 bill will be printed and circulated beginning in 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.  Harriet Tubman’s new place on the $20 bill exemplifies acceptance and equality in the United States, as she will be the first woman permanently on American currency.