‘Notable Woman’ on $10 Bill: Will It Be Harriet Tubman? (Updated)

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20-dollar-bill-transfer-transferframe198By Manny Otiko

Americans may soon be pulling stacks of Tubmans out of their wallets at the gas station. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the new face on the $10 bill will be a “notable woman.” Legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman topped a poll organized by Women on 20, a women’s advocacy group. The poll asked people to vote on which woman they wanted to see on the new currency. Tubman beat out 15 other candidates, including former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

“America’s currency is a way for our nation to make a statement about who we are and what we stand for. Our paper bills — and the images of great American leaders and symbols they depict — have long been a way for us to honor our past and express our values,” Lew said in a statement. “We have only made changes to the faces on our currency a few times since bills were first put into circulation, and I’m proud that the new 10 will be the first bill in more than a century to feature the portrait of a woman.”

The new design will not eliminate  Alexander Hamilton, whose image is currently on the $10 bill.

“There are many options for continuing to honor Hamilton. While one option is producing two bills, we are exploring a variety of possibilities,” Lew said.

The Huffington Post stated the new bills will be released in 2020, a century after the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote. A woman had also been suggested to replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

twenty-20-dollar-billJackson is a controversial figure with some people calling for him to removed from the $20 bill because of his background, which includes racism and genocide. They argue a man who was responsible for the Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears should not be on our national currency.

According to Slate writer Jillian Keenan, “Even in historical context, our seventh president falls short. His racist policies were controversial even in his own time. After the Indian Removal Act only narrowly passed Congress, an 1832 Supreme Court ruling declared it unconstitutional.”

Keenan said Tubman’s legendary life, which includes escaping slavery, carrying out undercover missions to liberate slaves and serving as a Civil War spy and Army scout, would be much more worthy of recognition than Jackson.

“Personally, my vote goes to Harriet Tubman. If Jackson’s humble origins inspire people, you can’t start much lower than Tubman, who was born into slavery,” she said. “Although Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, she bravely risked her life to return to the South and help more than 300 enslaved people escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War, she served our country as a nurse, armed scout, and spy for the Union Army, and wrapped up her heroic life by campaigning with Susan B. Anthony for women’s right to vote. It doesn’t get more inspirational than that.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), who wrote a bill calling for Lew to appoint a panel of citizens to find famous women who could appear on the $20 note, was pleased with the decision to put a woman on the $10 bill.

“Today, those voices all across the country calling for the contributions of women to be honored on our paper currency, were heard and now change is happening,” Shaheen said in a statement. “This announcement follows a tremendous grassroots movement that spread through the power of social media and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. While it might not be the twenty-dollar bill, make no mistake, this is a historic announcement and a big step forward.”

This is a corrected version of an earlier story.

Learn more about Harriet Tubman:

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom

Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People (African American)

Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero

Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life

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