Treasury announces Harriet Tubman as new face of $20 bill

The U.S. Treasury Department has chosen the new face of the $20 bill. Abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson on the bill, the Treasury announced Tuesday.

Final designs of the new bill are slated to be released in 2020, Bloomberg reports.

The unveiling of the new $20 bill will coincide with the 100th anniversary of when women were granted the right to vote in the U.S. Concept designs for new $5 and $10 bills also will be unveiled at that time.

When the Treasury first announced plans to feature a woman on paper currency, it was to be for the $10 bill, which currently features Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the country and the first secretary of the Treasury.

But after the success of the Broadway show “Hamilton,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew was persuaded by “Hamilton” playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda to keep the founding father as the face of the $10 bill. In a compromise, Lew announced that the back of the $10 bill will feature women suffragists instead of an image of the Treasury Department, according to Bloomberg.

On the $20 bill, Jackson, the country’s seventh president, will be moved to a spot on the back, along with an image of the White House. Jackson cedes his spot on the front of the bill to Tubman, the escaped slave who played an instrumental role in the Underground Railroad.

“The decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old,” Lew said in an open letter published Wednesday. “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.”

There are also plans to change the back of the $5 bill from an image of the Lincoln Memorial to depictions of historical events that took place at the memorial, including a performance by opera singer Marian Anderson in 1939 and Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

“Of course, more work remains to tell the rich and textured history of our country,” Lew said. “But with this decision, our currency will now tell more of our story and reflect the contributions of women as well as men to our great democracy.”

Changes to the bills are coming about because of security needs related to counterfeiting.


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