The Biden administration will resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced today.
“It’s important that our notes…reflect the history and diversity of our country,” Psaki said at a press conference, “and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that.”
The decision to replace former President Andrew Jackson with abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman has been controversial since former President Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew spearheaded the effort in 2016. While it’s unclear to what extent Steve Mnuchin, who served as secretary of the Treasury under President Trump, derailed the process for getting a Tubman currency into circulation, it’s fair to say the Trump administration was not enthusiastic. In 2016, Trump called the currency swap “pure political correctness” and praised Jackson’s “great history.”
Jackson, a slaveholder and anti-abolitionist, is famous for forcibly driving tens of thousands of Native Americans from their lands in the southeastern United States in a brutal voyage known as the Trail of Tears.
Tubman had a very different life story: After escaping slavery in 1849, she guided about 70 people to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
The new bill is likely to enter circulation in the latter half of the decade.