Anti-slavery crusader to replace former US president on $20 note
In a historic move, anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman will be the first woman to appear on an American banknote in more than a century as her portrait will replace former president Andrew Jackson on the front of the new $20 bill, the US has said.
Tubman was born as a slave around 1820 and helped hundreds of others escape. While she will feature on the front of the $20 bill, Jackson’s image will move to the back.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J Lew yesterday announced to add women and civil rights leaders to the new $10 and $5 notes, in a historically symbolic makeover of American currency.
In an open letter to fellow Americans, Lew announced plans for the reverse of the new $10 to feature an image of the historic march for suffrage that ended on the steps of the Treasury Department and honour the leaders of the suffrage movement Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul.
The front of the new $10 note will maintain the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, he said. Lew also announced plans for the reverse of the new $5 to honour events at the Lincoln Memorial that helped to shape the history and democracy and prominent individuals involved in those events, including Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr, a media release said.
The reverse of the new $20 will feature images of the White House and President Andrew Jackson. In his letter, Lew noted that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will work closely with the Federal Reserve to accelerate work on the new $20 and $5 notes, with the goal that all three new notes go into circulation as quickly as possible, consistent with security requirements.
“Today, I am excited to announce that for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman - Harriet Tubman on the $20 note,” Lew said. Last June, Lew had announced that a newly redesigned $10 note would feature a woman, for which he started a national conversation about women in US democracy.
“Since we began this process, we have heard overwhelming encouragement from Americans to look at notes beyond the $10. 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.
“We already have begun work on initial concepts for each note, which will continue this year. We anticipate 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,” Lew said.
Lew explained the decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 was driven by thousands of responses received.
“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 said. The reverse of the new $20 will continue to feature the White House as well as an image of President Andrew Jackson.
Lew said the new $10 will honour the story and the heroes of the women’s suffrage movement against the backdrop of the Treasury building.
Treasury’s relationship with the suffrage movement dates back to the 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, he said.
The reverse of the new $5 will depict the historic events that have occurred at the Lincoln Memorial, he said.
In 1939, at a time when Washington’s concert halls were still segregated, world-renowned Opera singer Marian Anderson helped advance civil rights when, with the support of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, she performed at the Lincoln Memorial in front of 75,000 people.
And in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech at the same monument in front of hundreds of thousands, Lew said.
“Honouring these figures will bring to life events at the Lincoln Memorial that helped to shape our history and our democracy. The front of the new $5 will continue to feature President Lincoln,” he said.
Lew said due to security needs, the redesigned $10 note is scheduled to go into circulation next.
“I have directed the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to work closely with the Federal Reserve to accelerate work on the new $20 and $5 notes. Our goal is to have all three new notes go into circulation as quickly as possible, while ensuring that we protect against counterfeiting through effective and sophisticated production,” Lew added.