Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will announce plans to replace President Andrew Jackson with famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. This is not the only change: leaders of the women’s suffrage movement will be featured on the back of the $10 bill and there are plans to feature civil rights era leaders on the back of the $5 bill. Jackson may not be completely removed from the $20 bill; it is likely he will still appear on the back.
The reaction to Tubman replacing Jackson was positive. “If this is true, great news!” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). “Tubman on $20 is the right call. The redesign needs to happen as soon as possible. Women have waited long enough.”
But Lew’s plan is vulnerable: future Treasury Secretaries would have the power to reverse or alter the decision regarding the $20 bill at any time.
Last summer, Lew proposed replacing Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with a woman. Public reaction was not favorable. Fans of Hamilton rebuked the proposal, citing Hamilton’s hand in creating the Treasury Department and his contributions to the modern American financial system. Critics suggested Lew remove Jackson, a War of 1812 hero and slave owner, from the $20 bill instead, citing his “Indian removal” policy as president. This policy was responsible for moving many Native Americans off their land. Jackson’s popularity coincided with many wars against Native Americans. Jackson’s policies reversed past policy in the United States and in the British colonies that had sought peaceful coexistence, even reconciliation, with natives.
Lew chose to side with his critics. “There are a number of options of how we can resolve this,” Lew said last July. “We’re not taking Alexander Hamilton off our currency.”
The pro-Hamilton movement gained momentum last year after the eponymous musical named after the Treasury Secretary became a surprise Broadway hit, shattering several box
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