Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has decided to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, making her the first woman on U.S. paper currency in 100 years, a Treasury official said Wednesday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of Lew’s official announcement, said that the 19th century abolitionist and a leader of the Underground Railroad, would replace the portrait of Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president.
Lew’s announcement is expected to provide details on other changes being made to the $20, $10 and $5 bills.
POLITICO first reported the news, citing anonymous sources. POLITICO also reported that leaders of the suffrage movement will be placed on the back of the $10 bill, while Founding Father Alexander Hamilton will remain on the front. Changes will also be made on the $5 bill, according to POLITICO.
An online group, Women on 20s, said it was encouraged that Lew was responding to its campaign to replace Jackson with a woman. But it said it would not claim victory unless Lew also committed to issuing the new $20 bill at the same time that the redesigned $10 bill is scheduled to be issued in 2020.
The $10 bill is the next note scheduled to be redesigned to introduce updated protections against counterfeiting. That redesign was scheduled to be unveiled in 2020, which marks the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. Lew had often cited that connection as a reason to put a woman on the $10 bill.
However, the effort ran into strong objections from supporters of Hamilton, who is enjoying renewed interest with the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
The expectation is that Lew will propose replacing the Treasury building, now on the back of the $10 bill, with a mural-style depiction of the suffrage moment.
“As Secretary Lew said last week, we are going to make an exciting set of announcements soon that involve the $5, $10 and $20 bills,” Treasury spokesman Joshua Drobnyk said earlier this week.
Lew also made hints last week.
“We’re not just talking about one bill,” Lew said. “We’re not just talking about one picture on one bill. We’re talking about using the front and the back of the bill to tell an exciting set of stories.”
Lew also announced last summer that the government was going to incorporate a woman on the $10 bill, which would mark the first appearance of a female portrait on U.S. paper currency in 100 years.
Treasury received more than 1.5 million responses to Lew’s request for suggestions on the currency redesign. That prompted him to delay an announcement, which he had originally said would be made by the end of 2015.
In a poll conducted last year by Women on 20s, Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist and one of the leaders’ of the Underground Railroad, was the top vote getter.
Story by the Associated Press with information from POLITICO.
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