The Biden-Harris Administration is revisiting plans to put abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, a move proposed by his fellow democrat and former president Barack Obama in 2016. The initial release date of the bill was in 2020 but the Trump administration stalled the process and proposed its release in 2028.
“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
She said it is important that the country’s money “reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that. So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”
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With this move, Tubman will be the first Black person on the face of any American currency and the third woman after nearly a century, coming after Martha Washington in the 1890s, who appeared on the $1 silver certificate, and Pocahontas, who was in a group picture on the $20 bill in the 1860s, Reuters said.
The $20 bill featuring Tubman, who was an abolitionist, civil rights activist, and a member of the Underground Railroad, was expected to be released in 2020 to perfectly coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.
However, the Trump administration moved to postpone the unveiling to 2028.
Meanwhile, “the decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old,” in a 10-month review by Obama, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said when he announced the decision in 2016.
“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,” he added.
Prior to Trump’s election, he branded the decision to put Tubman on the $20 bill claiming it was “pure political correctness”. He, however, proposed Tubman be put on the $2 bill instead. Additionally, Trump’s admiration for Andrew Jackson, an enslaver and an orchestrator of the genocide of thousands of American Indians, is no hidden secret.
A bust of Jackson was unveiled at the Oval Office during his tenure and he at some point spoke about modeling his presidency after Jackson, per NBC News.
“Andrew Jackson had a great history,” Trump said in 2019, “and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill.”
Tubman became famous for escaping slavery as a young woman and then sneaking back onto slave plantations many times as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, leading other brave and desperate people through the woods, swamps, and safe houses until they crossed into states where slavery was not permitted.
Eventually, they had to trek all the way to Canada to be truly free of the slave catchers.
Although Tubman is known as the “Moses” of the Underground Railroad who made sure all her passengers arrived safely, never losing any or leaving anyone behind, she also worked on a major Union military operation. In 1863, she became the first Black woman to lead a military expedition at the Combahee River, now known as the Combahee River Raid.
Tubman died of pneumonia in 1913, Auburn, New York.