U.S. Treasury resuming steps to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill: White House

U.S. Secretary Jack Lew (R) looks at a rendering of Harriet Tubman during a visit to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, U.S., in this handout photograph taken on April 21, 2016 and released on April 22.
Department of Treasury/Chris Taylor/Handout via Reuters

By Alexandra Alper and Andrea Shalal, Reuters

The U.S. Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

The redesigned bill was initially due to be unveiled last year, but those efforts were halted by the Treasury after former President Donald Trump called them an example of “pure political correctness.”

As a presidential candidate, Trump suggested Tubman would be better-suited for the $2 bill, a note that is not widely circulated.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers in May 2019 that he was focused on redesigning the bills to address counterfeiting issues, not making any changes to their imagery.

Tubman, who was born into slavery and grew up on a Maryland plantation before escaping in her late 20s, would replace Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, on the front of the $20 bill.

Tubman returned to the South many times to help hundreds of slaves to freedom and later worked as a Union spy during the Civil War. She died in 1913.

There have been no women depicted on U.S. bills since former first lady Martha Washington, who was featured on the $1 silver certificate from 1891 to 1896, and Native American woman Pocahontas, who was included in a group image on the $20 bill from 1865 to 1869.

Other women, including Native American interpreter Sacagawea, suffragist Susan B. Anthony and author and activist Helen Keller have been featured on coins.

Jackson has been criticized for his ownership of slaves and treatment of American Indians. In the redesign announced that had been announced in 2016, he would have remained on the back of the $20 bill.

Treasury officials had no immediate comment.

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