In 2016, the Treasury Department proposed that the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, would be replaced with an accomplished black woman, Harriet Tubman, on the $20 bill. Although many citizens believed this would be a positive change, the current Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, delayed the new $20 bill.
The current figure on the bill is Andrew Jackson. He was the seventh US president from 1829 to 1837. Jackson was from Tennessee and created the city of Memphis.
“He became famous for marching the Tennessee militia down into Louisiana during the War of 1812, and helped defeat the British in what became known as ‘The Battle of New Orleans’,” history teacher Christopher Carr said.
Jackson did some things for the worse of the country, as well. He organized the Indian Removal Act, which sought to move all Native Americans west of the Mississippi River.
“This removal act led to the Trail of Tears, which was a forced march of Cherokee Indians, and led to the senseless death of thousands,” Carr said.
During the Obama administration, Harriett Tubman was announced as the new face of the $20 bill. Tubman was born in Maryland around 1820, a slave from birth.
“She escaped to the north, but then made several trips back south to help other escaped slaves make it north on the Underground railroad,” Carr said.
The Underground Railroad was a system of hidden routes and safe houses used by African-American captives to break free from their enslavement. They journeyed into free states and Canada. Tubman was an important person in this arrangement.
The change to Harriet Tubman on the $20 was set to go into effect in 2020. In May 2019, Steven Mnuchin declared that no new $20 bill would be revealed until 2026, and that another bill won’t go into circulation until 2028.
“They shouldn’t have said the money was coming out earlier and that not be the case,” seventh grade student Kate Flora said.
Many believe that the process of replacing Jackson with Tubman should be pushed forward, back to its original date.
Is it time to add women to our money? This question has arisen many times in the past, but no progress has been made.
“I definitely think it is time to add a woman to US currency,” Carr said. “Lots of women have done amazing things and deserve to be recognized.”
Sevier student Jenna Michelli agreed.
“Yes, I do think there should be a woman on the American dollar,” she said. “I think it will help women to have more confidence.”
African American images have also been absent from American bills. There hasn’t been one bill with the face of an African American figure.
“I believe there should be African Americans on dollar bills,” eighth grade student Sloane Burkey said. “The way I see it is that the United States was made from immigrants and people who were not just white, but many ethnicities, so it does not matter what the person’s ethnicity is, but the positive ways in which they have contributed to our country.”
In the end, many feel that the collection of white men that are featured on U.S. currency don’t necessarily represent American history as well as they could.
“I think there are lots of deserving Americans that should be featured on our currency,” Carr said. “Harriet Tubman is one of them. Rotating portraits could also help with recognizing these achievements. I also think Teddy Roosevelt, Christa McAuliffe, Sequoyah, and Blackjack Pershing are worthy of this honor.”
This story was originally published on The Sequoyah Scribe on November 6, 2019.