By Rae Avery
Andrew Jackson is to be replaced by a woman on the twenty dollar bill. And it's about freaking time.
When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that Alexander Hamilton would be replaced with a woman on the $10 bill last year, the public outcry was immediate and widespread. The ridiculously popular Hamilton musical had recently brought the beloved president back into the spotlight, and reminded many of us why we loved him in the first place. Hamilton fought to abolish slavery, and championed the cause for a strong national bank, as well as a hands-on government system of facilitating economic change. That a woman needed representation on our country's currency was without doubt, but Hamilton? Really? History buffs everywhere knew who truly needed to get the boot: Andrew Jackson will officially be replaced by Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill.
Since 1929, Andrew Jackson, our seventh United States president, has graced the front of the twenty dollar bill. While he was indeed a war hero, he was also an elitist slave owner whose terrible decisions would lead to a near-genocide of the Native American people. In 1814, at the battle of Horseshoe Bend, the aid of 500 Native American allies saved Jackson's military command and his life. Nevertheless, a mere sixteen years later Jackson orchestrated the Indian Removal Act. Defying the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of the Cherokee Nation, Jackson paved the way for the Trail of Tears which resulted in the brutal deaths of 4,000 Native Americans.
If this weren't enough, Jackson didn't approve of paper money in the first place. He deeply distrusted banks. After being elected in 1832, he waged war against the bank of the United States, which until that time had provided some economic stability to the nation. Furthermore, Jackson's financial policies were the dominoes that set into motion the Panic of 1837, one of the worst economic depressions in United States history. Jackson wasn't even in office anymore, but his influence was still felt as unemployment rose, and banks refused to honor paper notes as actual money. It is more than ironic that this is the man we chose to immortalize on our currency.
In light of all this, we welcome the news that Harriet Tubman will lend her image to the front of our United States twenty dollar bill, replacing Andrew Jackson. While various female American heroes have been honored on special coins here and there in the past, this will be the first time in over 100 years that a woman will be featured on our paper bank notes.
The sawbuck will also see a change, as will the fiver. Alexander Hamilton will remain on the front of the ten dollar bill, and Lincoln on the five dollar bill, but the backs will showcase a myriad of women who were crucial to the civil rights movement, abolitionism, and women’s suffrage as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in 1920. Obviously, this means the new bill will be officially debuted in 2020
Being the new face of the twenty dollar bill, Harriet Tubman represents the struggle for racial and gender equality. Online group Women on 20s, which campaigned hard for this monetary change, held an internet poll to see who the public would most like to see depicted on the new bill. Runner-ups included former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights figure Rosa Parks, and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller, but renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman was the clear winner, and the decision has now been made official.
The prospect of a woman finally being honored on United States paper currency is an exciting one, but don't be looking for our hero of the hour anytime soon. The twenty dollar bank note featuring Tubman won’t be officially redesigned until 2020, and won’t be distributed until closer to 2030.