Harriet Tubman Boots Andrew Jackson Off The $20 Bill, Hamilton To Stay Put

According to the U.S. Treasury, Alexander Hamilton is staying put on the $10 bill while Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson is getting booted from the $20 bill in favor of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The changes are expected to roll out sometime in 2020, so Andrew Jackson will remain on the $20 bill until the new bills are designed and released into circulation. Harriet Tubman is set to replace the controversial U.S. president best known for the infamous “Trail of Tears,” the forced resettlement of Native Americans under Andrew Jackson’s presidency.

Some groups aren’t happy with the decision, which sees Jackson moved to the back of the $20 bill but not removed entirely, citing Jackson’s legacy of aggression against America’s native population. However, the inclusion of Harriet Tubman was “the right call,” reports Politico.

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“If this is true, great news! Tubman on the $20 is the right call. The redesign needs to happen as soon as possible, women have waited long enough,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire on Twitter today.

The U.S. Treasury is expected to officially announce the changes today after almost a year of deliberating over whether or not to replace another popular figure on American currency: Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, who is enjoying a wave of renewed popularity as a result of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit theater production Hamilton, was strongly favored to be replaced by a woman by 2020 after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew shot down the initial proposal to replace Andrew Jackson with a female figure from American history.

The U.S. Treasury decided instead to focus on the $10 bill, which currently features Alexander Hamilton. In part as a result of the wildly popular Hamilton musical, the decision was met with immediate backlash online, with Hamilton fans campaigning against the replacement of the first U.S. Treasury Secretary. So today’s announcement finds a middle ground, with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew set to announce more than a handful of changes to U.S. paper currency.

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Among the changes set to roll out in 2020, abolitionist Harriet Tubman will be featured on the front of the $20 bill; Alexander Hamilton will remain on the front of the $10 bill, but the back of the bill will feature leaders of the American women’s suffrage movement; and the $5 bill is set to feature civil rights-era leaders in some way.

According to the Washington Post, the whole campaign started with an online group called Women on 20s advocating for the inclusion of female figures from American history on U.S. currency and in particular fighting for the removal of Andrew Jackson, a very controversial figure, from the $20 bill in favor of a figure from American history who was not involved in the forced relocation of Native Americans. Harriet Tubman was an early favorite due to her role as a prominent abolitionist and Union spy during the Civil War.

The Post reports that the whole campaign had a certain symmetry to it which played a significant role in the campaign’s popularity: put a woman on the $20 bill by 2020, the one-hundredth anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage movement in the United States.

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“When we went out with our campaign we knew what we wanted. We had one singular message,” said Barbara Ortiz Howard, the founder of the Women on 20s campaign.

The U.S. currency shakeup became complicated after fans of Hamilton began campaigning to save the first Treasury Secretary from getting the axe, since Hamilton’s $10 bill was next in line to get a redesign to prevent counterfeiting, a measure the U.S. Treasury undergoes with some regularity. But due to the lobbying efforts of fans and Hamilton writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, it looks like Alexander Hamilton is here to stay.

[Photo by Getty Images/Chris Hondros]