The Biden Administration has announced that they are now “exploring ways to speed up” the release of $20 bills featuring Harriet Tubman after the Trump administration had to delay the move which was first initiated by President Barack Obama and the Obama Administration. Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the change in 2016 after an online campaign went viral, demanding women be featured on U.S. currency. Flash forward to 2020, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke about the decision, stating, “It’s important that our notes, our money — if people don’t know what a note is — reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that.”
A spokesperson for the Treasury Department indeed confirmed that the agency is now exploring several ways to resume putting Tubman on the $20 bill. There are several production factors that will need to be considered in order for the bill to be released before the year 2028, which is when the Trump Administration estimated that the new note will be unveiled. For example, the Tubman Bill will need to be produced in a new high-speed printing facility, which is said to be scheduled to begin printing in 2025. Tubman, who was once an enslaved African American woman, was able to free several enslaved people through the Underground Railroad in the 1880s. If approved, she will replace President Andrew Jackson on the bill.
White House Announces New Effort to Place Harriet Tubman on $20 Bill
The abolitionist, who was born in Maryland, was able to escape the plantation where she was enslaved and went to Pennsylvania back in 1849. Over the following decades, she then made several trips to Maryland to free enslaved persons, according to the National Park Service. During the Civil War, she then served as a US Army spy, nurse, scout, and cook. In her later years, she was involved in the woman suffrage movement. Back in 2016 while campaigning, Trump called the decision to redesign the $20 bill with Tubman’s image “pure political correctness.”
He then suggested putting Tubman on the $2 bill which is no longer printed. Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump expressed appreciation for Jackson, visiting his grave and tweeting about him saying, “We honor your memory. We build on your legacy,” while displaying several portraits of Jackson in the Oval Office. But several groups have criticized the glorification of his legacy, especially for owning slaves, his heavy record on racial issues, and his decision to sign legislation that led to the “Trail of Tears.” The legislation forced tens of thousands of Cherokees out of the state of Georgia and moved to what is now known as Oklahoma.
“Harriet Tubman Road to Freedom”
Back in 2018, Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had dodged a question that was asked about the progress with regards to the new bill, saying, “We haven’t made any decisions as to whether we’ll change the bill, or won’t change the bill.” He later said that the bill wouldn’t be unveiled until 2028 due to technical issues. But in 2019 the New York Times reported that a “basic design already on paper most likely could have satisfied the goal of unveiling” the redesigned note by 2020. The paper said it obtained an image of the new note from a former department official, which “depicts Tubman in a dark coat with a wide collar and a white scarf.” They reported that the design was completed in late 2016.