Famously known as an anti-slavery crusader in the United States, Harriet Tubman will become the first African-American to be featured on the face of US paper currency when she replaces 7th President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill who will now move to the back of the bill.
US treasury secretary Jacob Lew announced this on Wednesday, making abolitionist Tubman the first woman to appear on a US paper currency in more than a century!
Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery in the early part of the 19th century, escaped and then used the network of anti-slavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad to transport other slaves to freedom. After the US civil war, Tubman, who died in 1913, became active in the campaign for women’s suffrage.
In addition, the back of the 10 dollar bill will be redesigned with leaders of the suffrage movement. This decision is the latest chapter in a 10-month-old controversy that erupted after Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew tried to address gender imbalance on US currency notes.
Various groups have been advocating to get a woman honored on the nation’s paper currency, which has been an all-male domain for more than a century. This move is intended as a way to thread the needle between these women groups and fans of Hamilton.
Before now, the last woman featured on US paper money was Martha Washington, who was on a dollar silver certificate from 1891 to 1896. The only other woman ever featured on US paper money was Pocahontas, from 1865 to 1869. Susan B Anthony and Sacagawea are on dollar coins.
The $5 and $10 notes will also be getting a few changes as well, Jack Lew said the redesign gives the Treasury “a chance to open the aperture to reflect more of America’s history.”
A new $10 bill will add images of five female leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, including Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to the back, while keeping founding father Alexander Hamilton on the front.
The reverse of a new $5 note will show former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Former President Abraham Lincoln will remain on the front.
The 10 dollar bill is the next note on Treasury’s redesign calendar, and it aims to introduce updated protections against counterfeiting. That redesign was scheduled to be unveiled in 2020, which marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.