Last June, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew introduced a plan to make changes to the appearance of some American currency. Originally leaning towards replacing Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill, they eventually concluded they wanted to instead replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty. After much thought, and pressure from Woman’s rights activists, they narrowed their criteria to choosing a woman.

On April 20th, the Department of the Treasury announced that it will replace the frontal picture of the twenty dollar bill with abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Although they are taking Jackson off of the front of the bill, they will be incorporating him into the scene on the back. There are still discussions going on about how exactly this will be done. However, it is confirmed that Andrew Jackson–an avid supporter of slavery, and arguably the founder of the modern day Democratic Party–is being demoted to the back of the bill.

Harriet Tubman was a an outlaw, a fugitive, and a hero. Tubman was born into slavery in 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland. Her life as a fugitive began when she escaped from Maryland to Philadelphia in 1849, and she returned to Maryland to help her family escape. Using the Underground Railroad, Tubman helped other people who were enslaved retreat to the North. She served as a Union Army spy during the Civil War, and led the Combahee River Raid that liberated more than 700 slaves.

Tubman dedicated her life to saving others, and is an icon of fearlessness and freedom.  She exemplifies everything that a hero should represent, and a what values America was founded on.

Not only are they changing the cover of the twenty dollar bill, but they have announced other changes as well:

  • The five dollar bill will continue to have President Lincoln’s face on the front.  The scene on the back will still include the Lincoln Memorial, but Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Marian Anderson’s 1939 concert will be added to the scenery.
  • The ten dollar bill will still have Alexander Hamilton’s face on the front, but the back will now be dedicated to the women’s suffrage movement.  It will feature Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul.

These bills will be changed over the next couple of years, and will then enter circulation.

The irony that slave owner and slavery advocate Andrew Jackson is being demoted to the back of the $20 bill, only to be replaced by Tubman, a former slave, is all too good.  How’s that for making history?