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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 22, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 17
New $20 bill: Andrew Jackson out, Harriet Tubman in
Section One
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New $20 bill: Andrew Jackson out, Harriet Tubman in

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Former U.S. President Andrew Jackson will be dropped from the $20 bill and replaced by former slave and abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman. Images of civil rights movement leaders will join President Abraham Lincoln on the $5 bill.

The changes were announced April 20 by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

Lew said last summer that he was considering plans to replace former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with a female historical figure. Hamilton is the subject of a hit Broadway musical, which reinforced his reputation as the creator of the U.S. financial system, however, and Lew dropped the plan to eliminate his image from U.S. currency. Images of women will be added to the back of the $10 bill instead.

The changes to the $20 bill mirror contemporary reevaluations of U.S. history.

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in 1822 and escaped to the North in 1849. She returned to the South in secret to rescue her family and subsequently went back many times to lead hundreds of others out of slavery on the Underground Railroad - a secret network of safe houses organized by Northern anti-slavery activists.

In 1859, Tubman helped John Brown recruit fighters for his unsuccessful raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry. During the Civil War she worked as a scout and spy for the Union Army. After slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment, Tubman was a militant women's suffrage activist until her death in 1913.

Although he was a hero to 19th century Americans and the founder of the modern Democratic Party, Jackson was a slave owner and a military leader in several wars against Native American tribes. As president, he initiated the genocidal removal of the Cherokee nation from their original settlements in Georgia and Alabama to Oklahoma - the infamous Trail of Tears.

Ironically, Jackson as president tried to undo Hamilton's chief accomplishment - the creation of a central bank for the federal government. Jackson's anti-bank policies held sway until the Civil War, when the necessity of floating loans to finance the war effort led the federal government to re-create a system of national banks.

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