Sorry, Old Hickory. You've been benched off the front of the $20.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Wednesday will announce plans to both keep Alexander Hamilton on the front of the $10 bill and to knock Andrew Jackson off the front of the $20 in favor of Harriet Tubman, sources tell POLITICO.
Lew is expected to roll out a set of changes that also include putting leaders of the women’s suffrage movement on the back of the $10 bill, and incorporating civil rights era leaders and other important moments in American history into the $5 bill. Also, Jackson isn’t getting completely booted off the $20 bill. He’s likely to remain on the back.
Lew's reversal comes after he announced last summer that he was considering replacing Hamilton on the $10 bill with a woman. The plan drew swift rebukes from fans of Hamilton, who helped create the Treasury Department and the modern American financial system. Critics immediately suggested Lew take Jackson off the $20 bill given the former president's role in moving Native Americans off their land.
Lew told POLITICO last July that Treasury was exploring ways to respond to critics. “There are a number of options of how we can resolve this,” Lew said. “We’re not taking Alexander Hamilton off our currency.”
Supporters of putting a woman on the $10 bill have complained that it will take too long for the $20 bill to come up for a redesign. But people familiar with the matter said new designs for the bills should be ready by 2020. Treasury is likely to ask the Federal Reserve, which makes the final decision, to speed up the process and get the bills into circulation as quickly as possible.
But please, Andy, do make the most of taking a back seat to one of the most incredible black women in American history.
Rather than remaining in the safety of the North, Tubman made it her mission to rescue her family and others living in slavery. In December 1850, Tubman received a warning that her niece Kessiah was going to be sold, along with her two young children. Kessiah’s husband, a free black man named John Bowley, made the winning bid for his wife at an auction in Baltimore. Harriet then helped the entire family make the journey to Philadelphia. This was the first of many trips by Tubman, who earned the nickname “Moses” for her leadership. Over time, she was able to guide her parents, several siblings and about 60 others to freedom. One family member who declined to make the journey was Harriet’s husband, John, who preferred to stay in Maryland with his new wife.
The dynamics of escaping slavery changed in 1850, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. This law stated that escaped slaves could be captured in the North and returned to slavery, leading to the abduction of former slaves and free blacks living in Free States. Law enforcement officials in the North were compelled to aid in the capture of slaves, regardless of their personal principles. In response to the law, Tubman re-routed the Underground Railroad to Canada, which prohibited slavery categorically.
In December 1851, Tubman guided a group of 11 fugitives northward. There is evidence to suggest that the party stopped at the home of abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass.
In April 1858, Tubman was introduced to the abolitionist John Brown, who advocated the use of violence to disrupt and destroy the institution of slavery. Tubman shared Brown’s goals and at least tolerated his methods. Tubman claimed to have had a prophetic vision of Brown before they met. When Brown began recruiting supporters for an attack on slaveholders at Harper’s Ferry, he turned to “General Tubman” for help. After Brown’s subsequent execution, Tubman praised him as a martyr.
Harriet Tubman remained active during the Civil War. Working for the Union Army as a cook and nurse, Tubman quickly became an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.
So yeah, let's hurry these new bills along, shall we?