Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has announced that the new $20 bill design with Harriet Tubman would be delayed until at least 2028.
What’s the background?
Initially, the Treasury Department had said that it would replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with a woman. However, after the popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” the department decided to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill instead. Tubman, whose crucial contributions to the Underground Railroad saved countless former slaves, was chosen to replace him. This announcement was made by Mnuchin’s predecessor, Jack Lew.
This change was scheduled for 2020, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment.
But Harriet Tubman wasn’t even a president!
Neither were Benjamin Franklin or Alexander Hamilton. In fact, some of the oldest paper money in the U.S. had a non-president on it. Paper money was first printed by the U.S. government in 1861, as a way to pay for the Civil War. Then-Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase used that opportunity to put his own face on the very first $1 bills.
What happened now?
On Wednesday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) asked Mnuchin about the status of this redesign.
“The primary reason we’ve looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” Mnuchin responded. “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 and the $50 will come out with new features beforehand.” The $20 bill is the most frequently counterfeited bill in the United States, although the U.S. $100 bill is counterfeited more in other countries.
While Andrew Jackson’s executive overreach and treatment of Native Americans has come under criticism, Trump has said that he is one of his favorite presidents. Trump has compared his own victory to Jackson’s victory in 1828, in which the seventh president appealed to the American people rather than political figures. During the 2016 campaign, Trump said that Jackson being replaced by Tubman was “pure political correctness.”
Mnuchin said that the “ultimate design on the redesign” of the $20 bill “will most likely be another secretary’s down the road.” He also said that “the imagery feature will not be an issue that comes up until most likely 2026.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) slammed the decision to postpone the Tubman $20, calling it “unacceptable.”