News Editor, Linus Park
On April 29th, in order to celebrate the centennial of the 19th amendment, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced that the former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman would oust Andrew Jackson on the back cover of the $20 bill. Lew initially intended to change the $10 bill and replace Alexander Hamilton with major women figures; however, due to large popularity and a strong fan base of the “Broadway rap musical”, the secretary decided to keep the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.
Moreover, the new design of the bills feature various other women suffragists and important historical figures such as Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Alice Paul on the back covers of both the $5 bill and $10 bill, in adherence to Jacob Lew’s intent “to bring life” to the national monuments. More specifically, the back cover of the $5 bill highlights the Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who all have been a part of famous events at the national monument.
The decision to assign Harriet Tubman as the front of the twenty include the fact that the “pattern became clear that Harriet Tubman struck a chord with people in all parts of the country, of all ages,” based on the public comments of an online group called the “Women on 20s” that the secretary had reviewed.
Despite the groundbreaking announcement that encapsulates a historic moment for the United States, with President Obama’s support to replace the $20 bill, the “Girl’s Lounge”, organization consisting of female corporate leaders, pressed Lew to incorporate a woman on the front cover of the $10 bill, as he once proposed. The organization did not wish to wait longer for the production of the redesigned $20 bill, projected to reach people’s pockets before 2030. Furthermore, the Secretary’s decision received more questions and complaints written in a letter from more than thirty feminist actors, executives, and journalists stating that the decision of the secretary to renege his stance on the $10 was a “major blow to the advancement of women,” for featuring the women figures on the back.
Although Jacob Lew could not satisfy the female consensus regarding the placement of which women figures on which bills, the Treasury Secretary made his mark on the growth of women within society in his waning months.