The Treasury Department has decided to place a portrait of Harriet Tubman on the new $20 bill and keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. The choice of Tubman for the $20 bill makes a lot of sense, by contrast, The New York Times wrote. Tubman’s list of achievements is long and distinguished. She escaped slavery and helped scores of others to flee to freedom on the Underground Railroad. She worked as a scout and spy for the Union during the Civil War, gathering intelligence that proved incredibly useful. And she was a suffragist who helped fight for women’s right to vote after the Civil War.
In addition to the decision to place Tubman on the $20 bill, the Treasury secretary, Jacob Lew, also announced that the back of the $10 bill would feature images of five suffragists – Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony – and the back of a new $5 bill will have an image of Marian Anderson, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt. Designs for the three bills will be unveiled in 2020 and the first to go into circulation will be the new $10, followed by the $20 and the $5.
Although it will take years before these bills go into circulation, as Lew says designing anti-counterfeiting measures takes time, and for the first time the Treasury will add tactile features to the notes for blind and visually impaired people, Lew and the Federal Reserve, which orders currency notes from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, are expected to do everything they can to speed up the introduction of these bills.
Jackson has been on the $20 bill since 1928 and it is not clear exactly why he was put there in the first place. That seems like quite a lot of time to have one highly controversial and destructive personality on American currency. And Lew says that Jackson will remain on the back of the $20 bill in some form, so he won’t exactly be gone and forgotten.