WASHINGTON (UPI) — After months of speculation, lobbying and debate, prominent American anti-slavery crusader Harriet Tubman will become the first woman to grace U.S. currency in more than a century when she replaces former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, the Treasury announced Wednesday.
Secretary Jack Lew confirmed Tubman’s selection during an announcement and an open letter online Wednesday.
The Treasury also announced coming changes for the $10 and $5 bills, as well.
“I have been inspired by this conversation and today I am excited to announce that for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman — Harriet Tubman on the $20 note,” he wrote.
Alexander Hamilton will stay the $10 bill, Lew said, after plenty of discussion from proponents of why the $20 bill is a better choice for the redesign.
Tubman (1822-1913) won a poll organized last year by the Women on 20s campaign, which attracted more than 600,000 voters. She beat the likes of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights activist Rosa Parks and Cherokee Nation leader Wilma Mankiller.
The reverse of the new $20 will display the White House and an image of Andrew Jackson.
“Since we began this process, we have heard overwhelming encouragement from Americans to look at notes beyond the $10. Based on this input, I have directed the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to accelerate plans for the redesign of the $20, $10, and $5 notes,” Lew added. “We already have begun work on initial concepts for each note, which will continue this year. We anticipate that final concept designs for the new $20, $10, and $5 notes will all be unveiled in 2020.”
Lew told reporters last year that it was “personally very important” for him that Hamilton still be included on the bill. Initially, he proposed two different $10 bills featuring Hamilton and a woman. Continued advocacy for Hamilton and the bill ultimately led the Treasury to change course and target the $20 instead.
The reverse of the $10 will honor the heroes of the women’s suffrage movement and depict the March of 1913, a march for women’s suffrage from the U.S. Capitol to the steps of the Treasury Department.
“The new $10 design will depict that historic march and honor Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul for their contributions to the suffrage movement,” Lew said.
Lew added that, due to security reasons, the new $10 will be the first of the new bills into circulation.
According to Lew:
“The reverse of the new $5 will depict the historic events that have occurred at the Lincoln Memorial. In 1939, at a time when Washington’s concert halls were still segregated, world-renowned Opera singer Marian Anderson helped advance civil rights when, with the support of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, she performed at the Lincoln Memorial in front of 75,000 people. And in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the same monument in front of hundreds of thousands. Honoring these figures will bring to life events at the Lincoln Memorial that helped to shape our history and our democracy. The front of the new $5 will continue to feature President Lincoln.”
The Treasury said all three new bills will be put into circulation as soon as possible, but did not give a definitive time table.
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