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US Treasury To Feature Harriet Tubman On $20 Bill (reuters.com) 581

An anonymous reader writes: Harriet Tubman will become the first African-American woman to be featured on the face of U.S. paper currency in more than a century. Tubman was born a slave and went on to become an anti-slavery crusader. Ironically, she will be replacing Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the U.S. and a slave owner. According to Wikipedia, "Jackson held as many as 44 [slaves] by 1820, and later held up to 150 slaves, making him among planter elite. Throughout his lifetime Jackson may have owned as many as 300 slaves." The decision to feature a woman on a bill started in part from a young girl's letter to President Obama about the lack of women on U.S. currency. A social media campaign "Women on 20s" then began pushing for a woman to replace Jackson on the currency early last year. Originally, the department announced it would feature a woman on the $10 bill instead of Alexander Hamilton. Now it's being reported Hamilton will stay on the front of the bill with a group of women on the back of it. Civil rights era leaders will reportedly be depicted in the new $5 bill.
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US Treasury To Feature Harriet Tubman On $20 Bill

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  • by grahamsaa ( 1287732 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @04:59PM (#51951117)
    While this is a cool idea -- there are no women and no people of color featured on any US bills right now, and that doesn't accurately reflect the demographics of the country -- I can see it causing some confusion. On balance, it's probably a good decision, but this is a pretty major change.
    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @05:23PM (#51951407)
      Who really cares though? Does anyone have such a connection to Jackson or Hamilton to care about their ouster? As an aside, I've always found it somewhat ironic for Jackson to be featured on the $20 given his positions on the American central banking system that he removed while in office, which was only later reestablished as the Federal Reserve under Wilson. Jackson didn't appear on the $20 until after that time, perhaps as some kind of cruel jape, but I don't know.

      Talking about demographics and limiting it to skin color seems to miss the point. America was a country founded on the ideas of freedom and liberty for all, even though it took quite a while to attain that in fact, and in some ways still isn't there. A strive for equality before the law seems to be an embodiment of American values and something that should constitute large majority demographically. Thinking that I (or anyone else) can't identify with someone like Tubman or the leaders of the civil rights movements because of sex or skin color seems rather misguided. You wouldn't tell a little black girl that she couldn't look up to Ben Franklin because he was an old white dude and doesn't reflect her demographics would you?

      I wouldn't mind mixing a few other bills up as well. I'm of the opinion that we could boot Grant from the $50 for Teddy Roosevelt who in addition to being a general badass also exhibited many other traits or characteristics that I feel symbolize the idea of America and the values for which we as a country should strive.

      Really the only reason to care is that a person is more concerned with the people doing this for the wrong reason (i.e. so that they can act like they're so great because diversity, etc.) instead of because Tubman and others (Dr. King obviously comes to mind) epitomize some of the ideals on which this country was founded and that make it great. Opposing a reasonable solution just because the people pushing for it are doing so for the wrong reasons doesn't make anyone a better person and smacks of being a moral crusade of its own.
      • by guises ( 2423402 )

        Does anyone have such a connection to Jackson or Hamilton to care about their ouster?

        Amusingly, yes. The next bill due for a change was the $10 bill, but there's currently a Broadway musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. The producer of that show wrote the treasury and asked them to postpone changing the $10 bill, and apparently they agreed to it.

        • You forgot to mention the musical is wildly popular (sold out nearly a year in advance now) so it's not just New Yorkers raising a fuss about Hamilton - also it should be noted that complicating matters as far as racial politics go, is that Hamilton is all black actors only so in essence getting rid of Hamilton now is like tossing out a black man from the currency.

    • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @05:51PM (#51951617)
      Setting aside her race and gender, I like this choice for the fact that for once we're acknowledging the importance of someone who wasn't in a leadership position. We have this tendency to celebrate the person in charge and ignore the grunts, especially when it comes to presidents, and I'm glad to see someone else on a bill.

      (Yes, Ben Franklin was never technically a president but only because he was too old. He might as well have been one.)
  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @05:01PM (#51951141)

    Waiting for the Youtube videos of store clerks looking wide-eyed at these new bills and proclaiming they're not legitimate currency. It'll be like $2 bills and golden dollars all over again *grabs popcorn*.

  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @05:06PM (#51951201)

    I know it's ancient tradition and all, but it seems to me like people are probably one of the worst things you can put on your currency. No matter who you choose, it's going to piss off at least a third of the population immediately, and there's a good chance that in fifteen to a hundred years you'll figure out that, by modern standards, the subject committed multiple atrocities.

    A few years ago, if you had asked the average citizen to decide who was the least controversial person in American history, someone that would never ever be considered a villain, they might easily have suggested Bill Cosby. Him, or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man.

    After Harriet's had her day, I say we switch over to a big "20" on there instead of a portrait. Or maybe "XX" if people want something a little sexier.

    • The portrait is partially for anti counterfeiting reasons so it would need to be a very complex "20".
      Even the lines the portraits are made from are anti-counterfeiting.

    • I know it's ancient tradition and all, but it seems to me like people are probably one of the worst things you can put on your currency. No matter who you choose, it's going to piss off at least a third of the population immediately,

      If you're offended by Harriet Tubman than you're pretty much digging for things to get offended by.

      and there's a good chance that in fifteen to a hundred years you'll figure out that, by modern standards, the subject committed multiple atrocities.

      Not really, in some cases there are sketchy episodes where we might find out more details, or there are terrible known things that the general public isn't really aware of (ie, all the stuff with Andrew Jackson). But even if Harriet Tubman was a cannibalistic serial killer who tortured puppies that's not something we're going to discover at this point.

      A few years ago, if you had asked the average citizen to decide who was the least controversial person in American history, someone that would never ever be considered a villain, they might easily have suggested Bill Cosby.

      Which is why you try to avoid naming things after people un

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @05:23PM (#51951403) Homepage Journal

    While Tubman is a good choice (I personally would have preferred Dr. King, but I know they were going for a woman); why wasn't this done via a popular vote?

    Were they afraid the American public would vote for Boaty McBoatface?

  • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @05:26PM (#51951439)

    Tubman was born a slave and went on to become an anti-slavery crusader

    This is about the most boring summary of her life possible.

    Try this:

    Short version - She was America's Joan of Arc.

    Long version - She was beaten nearly to death as a teenage slave, and heard voices the rest of her life, which she believed to be God. Often did what God (the voice) told her to. Listening to God she

    • Escaped slavery (no mean feat for anyone)
    • Went back to the south at least 13 times, helping about 80 more escape. She reported avoiding slave catchers multiple times by listening to her voice of God and following his instructions. She was never once captured
    • Helped out with the recruiting for John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. It failed miserably, but likely helped bring on the war that destroyed slavery. The Battle Hymn of the Republic was originally an ode to John Brown.
    • Conducted multiple "scouting" (spy) missions into Confederate territory during the Civil War
    • Led a military assault on several plantations during the war, liberating about 750 slaves (most of the men of which promptly joined the Union army)

    Personally, I hope they use her Civil War woodcut portrait [wikimedia.org], which shows her holding a rifle.

    • Personally, I hope they use her Civil War woodcut portrait [wikimedia.org], which shows her holding a rifle.

      I'd never seen that before - it's great!

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @05:48PM (#51951593)
    They all owned slaves as well.

    $1, quarter - George Washington
    $2, nickel - Thomas Jefferson (though I'd probably give him a pass since he apparently loved one of them, and couldn't free them because of debt)
    $50 - Ulysses S. Grant (he gets a pass for freeing them despite being in debt, and the whole kicked the South's butt in the Civil War thing)
    $100 - Benjamin Franklin

    Or can we skip the made-up rationale, and just say we felt it was about time to put a black / staunch abolitionist / whatever on our money, and we liked Andrew Jackson the least so he's voted off the island? That explanation would be sufficient for most of us. (Out of curiosity, I looked it up - Martha Washington [wikipedia.org] was the first woman on U.S. paper currency - 1886 $1 silver certificate.)
  • She's a good choice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @07:05PM (#51952111) Homepage
    Jack Lew may not be able to sign his own name in a form that's recognizable, but he did make a good choice. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while.

    Harriet Tubman is a perfect choice. She was a tough, God-fearing woman who was determined to do the right thing at any cost. We need more people like her.

    I do believe if she were alive today, she'd kick Hillary Clinton's ass in any election.

Comparing information and knowledge is like asking whether the fatness of a pig is more or less green than the designated hitter rule." -- David Guaspari

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