Former GOP U.S. Presidential candidate Ben Carson doesn’t think that Harriet Tubman belongs on the $20 bill. Rather, the doctor believes that she should be “honored” a little less lavishly. Indeed, Ben Carson thinks that rather than replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, Tubman should be put on a bill that’s worth less. A lot less. Like the almost non-existent U.S. $2 bill.
As USA Today reports, Ben Carson weighed in on the recent decision by the U.S. Treasury Department to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 during an April 20 Cavuto Coast to Coast segment. The former presidential candidate, who just beat Ted Cruz in a New York House district for the GOP primary, seemed to think that the $2 is a more appropriate place for Harriet Tubman’s face than the $20.
Indeed, Carson seemed downright indignant when he spoke of his feelings to host Neil Cavuto.
“Well I think Andrew Jackson was a tremendous secretary. I mean a tremendous president. Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually balanced the federal budget, where we had no national debt. In honor of that, we kick him off of the money.”
Cavuto asked the former candidate, who now openly supports Donald Trump, reportedly in exchange for a hypothetical job in a hypothetical Donald Trump administration, if he was “anti-Harriet Tubman.” It was then that Ben Carson revealed his plan to “honor” Harriet Tubman (who led more than 300 slaves to freedom using the Underground Railroad) by putting her on the U.S. $2 bill instead. To be clear, the U.S. $2 bill, while legal tender, is almost never used in circulation and in 2016 has become almost novelty currency.
“No, I love Harriet Tubman. I love what she did. But we can find another way to honor her. Maybe a $2 bill.”
The last U.S. $2 bill was issued over a decade ago in 2003.
A little background information about Harriet Tubman and Andrew Jackson (whose face she will be replacing) might put things into perspective.
First, while Andrew Jackson was a documented slave owner, Harriet Tubman was (at one time) a slave. She helped over 300 African American slaves escape bondage while Andrew Jackson drove over 16,000 Cherokees from their homes on the Trail of Tears, reports Vox.
First, after the civil war, Tubman earned $20 per month as a pension. This is because she worked as a spy and a scout for the Union during the war. While that $20 seems little to us today, it was even less to Harriet Tubman because it was $5 less than full soldiers were paid. Tubman only received that amount after a long legal battle to get anything at all from the government for her service.
Second, and likely much more importantly to Harriet Tubman, $20 was the amount she needed to rescue her father from slavery.
“I’m gwine to Mr.–‘s office, an’ I ain’t gwine to lebe there, an’ I ain’t gwine to eat or drink till I git enough money to take me down after the ole people. I’m not gwine til I git my twenty dollars.”
It has been reported that Tubman believed she’d been “directed” by god to ask a “certain gentleman” in New York” for money to rescue her parents. That “certain gentleman” has been identified as abolitionist Oliver Johnson. Tubman reportedly went to his office to ask for money, refusing to leave until she’d gotten her $20. According to the story, Harriet Tubman sat down and went to sleep waiting for the officer to give her the money.
When she woke, Tubman found not just $20 in pocket, but $60. The money hadn’t come from the “certain gentleman,” either. Rather, it had come from “fugitive ex-slaves” who’d banded together to raise what was then an enormous sum to help Harriet Tubman free another slave.
Harriet Tubman ultimately used the $60 to rescue her father, who was on trial at the time for facilitating the escapes of other slaves. She brought him to Canada with the funds to ensure he couldn’t be re-enslaved.
So what do you think? Is Harriet Tubman an appropriate candidate for the U.S. $20? Or should Harriet Tubman be regaled to a less valuable bill, like the almost nonexistent $2, as Ben Carson suggests?
[Image Courtesy Of Alex Wong/Getty Images]