Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has not stopped fighting to put abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman on the $ 20 bill. And with the Biden administration’s announcement of her intention to make the long-awaited change, Tubman is set to become the first woman to be imprinted on a bill. And after years of defending him, Shaheen is finally about to take a victory lap.
“Our paper money is how we measure value in our society, and the fact that we haven’t had any women on our paper money is a suggestion that we are not measuring women’s contributions in the way that we do. we should, ”Shaheen told Know Your Value to NBC News. “I am so excited to see the new administration say they are going to make this a priority.”
The redesigned $ 20 bill was announced during President Obama’s second term, after the Treasury Department launched a poll to seek public input on who should replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $ 20 bill. $.
“The decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $ 20 bill was prompted by the thousands of responses we received from Americans, young and old,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in 2016. “I was particularly struck by the many comments and reactions from children for whom Harriet Tubman is not only a historical figure, but a model of leadership and participation in our democracy.
The new bill was due to go into circulation in 2020 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted certain women the right to vote. (What’s important is that many women of color, including black women and Indigenous women, have been excluded from the women’s suffrage movement.)
But despite the fanfare and planning, the effort languished under the Trump administration. Trump favored Jackson, a former army general and slave owner who is perhaps best known for his role in the forced relocation of Native Americans who robbed them of their land and killed thousands.
As the image of Jackson now adorns one of the most popular posts in US currency, as president he engaged in a bitter struggle with the country’s national bank and in fact warned against the use of paper money. As a candidate, Trump called the Tubman plan “Pure political correctness” and offered to print the image of the former slave turned abolitionist on the $ 2 bill instead.
“Considering the other actions of the Trump administration, I was not surprised, I will be honest,” Shaheen said. “But that’s why it’s so exciting now to see that we have a president who recognizes that we need to reflect our society as a whole in everything we do… Having Harriet Tubman on the $ 20 shows that we value what “she did, that we value women, that we value people of color. And I think for so many reasons this is a very exciting signal to people all over our country.”
The Democratic senator from New Hampshire had previously criticized the “Dragging your feet unnecessarily” as “unacceptable,” blaming the Trump administration for having “an unequivocal message to women and girls, and communities of color, who were promised they would see Harriet Tubman on the $ 20 bill “.
Senator Shaheen presented “The Harriet Tubman Tribute Act”In 2015, asking the Treasury Department to print Tubman’s image on all $ 20 bills from 2021 – then reintroduced the bill in 2019, after demanding and not receiving a detailed schedule from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin the previous year. Before Tubman’s likeness was decided, Shaheen introduced a bill in 2015 requiring the Treasury Department to “Convene a panel of citizens” to discuss support for “Women in their twenties” campaign, in which nearly half a million participants voted which of the 15 women the campaign chose they would like to see replaced Jackson on the $ 20. Alongside Tubman, the finalists included civil rights icon Rosa Parks, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee nation.
Last month, the White House announced that the Treasury Department was taking action to revive efforts to put Tubman on the front of the $ 20 bill. The US currency should “reflect the history and diversity of our country, and the image of Harriet Tubman adorning the new $ 20 bill would certainly reflect that.” Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
At the moment there is only one woman featured on a U.S. coin currently in circulation: Sacagawea, the Native American who helped Lewis and Clark explore Louisiana territory, is depicted on the rarely used dollar coin. Susan B. Anthony, leader of the women’s suffrage movement, was on the dollar coin until 1981. Disability rights lawyer Helen Keller was pictured on the back of the 2003 ward of the ‘Alabama.
“I think it’s a wonderful symbol and recognition that we value the contributions of women, we appreciate the contributions of people like Harriet Tubman, who made a huge difference during the Civil War and tried to save slaves,” Shaheen said. “Making sure we recognize people like Harriet Tubman, in addition to presidents and others who have served this country, is really important. “