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Harriet Tubman Has a Place on the $20 Bill

The+current+%2420+bill+that+features+President+Andrew+Jackson
The current $20 bill that features President Andrew Jackson

The current $20 bill that features President Andrew Jackson

Public Domain

Public Domain

The current $20 bill that features President Andrew Jackson

Sonia Rao, Opinion Editor

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Harriet Tubman is an American hero.  Born Araminta Johnson, Tubman was the granddaughter of a slave who came from Africa on the Middle Passage.  In 1849, Tubman first escaped from the Poplar Neck Plantation, traveling 90 miles by foot to Pennsylvania, risking her life and everything she had ever known.  According to an 1849 Maryland law, helping a slave escape held harsh penalties of imprisonment, threats to be sold further South, and whippings.  Nevertheless, Harriet Tubman continued to return, making at least 19 trips, and freeing more than 300 enslaved people along the Underground Railroad.  By 1856, rewards for her capture summed up to $40,000, about $1 million in today’s money.  There is no question that Tubman is an extraordinary figure in American history, serving as an icon for all who fight for what they believe in.  

By H. B. Lindsley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A photograph of Harriet Tubman that dates back to the mid-to-late 1800s.

This year, it was announced that Harriet Tubman was to replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.  However, a recent statement from the Trump Administration contradicts the previous plan.  “Right now we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on,” treasury-secretary Steven Mnuchin stated.  This news is shocking to citizens all over America who were looking forward to such an iconic woman being celebrated on the twenty-dollar bill.   

All of the figures featured on U.S. dollar bills have one thing in common: they are all caucasian and male.  They do not represent the diverse community of America today, with about 50% of America being female and over 30% of the country’s population made up of a racial minority.  In addition, there are arguments that President Andrew Jackson does not deserve his place on the $20 bill.  His place on the $20 bill has been a source of controversy for decades, especially among Native-American tribes affected by the Indian Removal Act, when they were forced to give their land to white Southerners.   Their travel on foot to Oklahoma is known as the Trail of Tears, the forced migration that occurred during Jackson’s presidency.  President Jackson supported the anti-Native policies that led to the Trail of Tears.  In addition, he was a slaveholder, making fortunes off of their forced labor.

If President Trump does not want to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, there are many other phenomenal women in history that could also be featured, such as Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to name a few.  However, it is about time that our American money began to represent all of the people who played a part in America’s founding.  

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Harriet Tubman Has a Place on the $20 Bill