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According to Trump Admin., Harriet Tubman Might Not Appear on $20

by Countable | 9.1.17

What’s the story?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin won’t commit to the Obama administration’s plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

"Ultimately we will be looking at this issue," Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC. Whether Andrew Jackson is replaced by Tubman is, he said, “not something I’m focused on at the moment.” If there is going to be a face-swap, Mnuchin added, “the issues of why we change [the bill] will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes."

Why does it matter?

Tubman, a former slave and abolitionist, was picked to replace the slave-owning seventh president in April 2016. Introducing the decision, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said,

"The decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old. "Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embodies the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates, and we'll continue to value her legacy by honoring her on our currency."

At the time, the plan was to move Jackson to reverse side of the bill with the new design being revealed in 2020 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump told the "TODAY" show, “I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic. I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill.”

Though Trump praised Tubman, he said he "didn’t like seeing" talk of replacing Jackson. “Yes, I think it's pure political correctness,” Trump said, noting that Jackson’s “been on the bill for many, many years. And, you know, really represented somebody that really was very important to this country.”

Barbara Ortiz Howard, founder of Women On 20s - which held an online vote for which woman should appear on the bill - told the Detroit Free Press that she was optimistic the change is still coming.

"Democrats as well as Republicans called for the removal of Jackson and his replacement by a woman," she said. "Harriet Tubman is beloved by all kinds of Americans on all political sides... She was a freedom fighter her whole life. She was a suffragist. She pretty much did it all, and that legacy should live very lively within us. It would if we could see it coming out of every ATM."

What are your thoughts?

Should the Treasury Department commit to putting Tubman on the $20 bill? Or was the plan to remove Jackson a case of "pure political correctness"? Is there some other compromise you’d like to see? Hit the Take Action button, tell your reps, and comment below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: Library of Congress)

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