Harriet Tubman On The Twenty Dollar Bill?

If a new campaign succeeds, Harriet Tubman could replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

Harriet Tubman Twenty Dollar Bill

For some time now, there has been a quiet campaign to change the Twenty Dollar Bill by removing former President Andrew Jackson and replacing him, well, with someone else. Given Jackson’s history as a hunter of American Indians in Florida, and the fact that he was responsible as President for forcing the Cherokee out of Georgia along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma, it’s hard to make a compelling case for honoring him at this point, to be honest. Additionally, there’s the fact that the United States hasn’t changed the faces on its currency in quite some time. In any case, there’s a campaign afoot to replace Jackson with a woman in time for the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 2020 and, after a survey, they have a winner:

A group that wants to kick Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with a woman has, after months of collecting votes, chosen a successor: Harriet Tubman.

Tubman, an abolitionist who is remembered most for her role as a conductor in the “Underground Railroad,” was one of four finalists for the nod from a group of campaigners calling themselves “Women on 20s.” The campaign started earlier this year and has since inspired bills in the House and the Senate.

The other three finalists were former first lady and human rights activist Eleanor Roosevelt; civil rights figure Rosa Parks; and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. Now that voters participating in the campaign have chosen Tubman, Women on 20s will bring a petition with the people’s choice to the White House.

“Our paper bills are like pocket monuments to great figures in our history,” Women on 20s Executive Director Susan Ades Stone said in an e-mailed statement. “Our work won’t be done until we’re holding a Harriet $20 bill in our hands in time for the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020.”

In all, the group said, it has collected more than 600,000 votes for its campaign.

In Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Tubman was a “wonderful choice” for the bill, but stopped short of saying whether the President backs putting Tubman on the $20.

If the government agrees that it’s time to replace Andrew Jackson on the bill, its choice might not end up being Tubman. But the idea of putting a woman on America’s paper currency has attracted some notable support.

“Last week, a young girl wrote to me to ask why aren’t there any women on our currency,” President Obama said in a July speech in Kansas City, before the launch of the Women on 20s voting campaign. “And then she gave me a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff — which I thought was a pretty good idea.”

I don’t have any real objection to changing the historical figures depicted on American currency from time to time and, indeed, it has been a very long time since we have made any kind of a change like that to the bills that are in common circulation.  I also have no particular affinity for Andrew Jackson given the history of his Presidency and the other circumstances of his life, and I’m not even sure how he ended up on the Twenty Dollar Bill as opposed to any other number of American historical figures. Jackson wasn’t part of the founding era like Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, or Franklin, and he didn’t play a crucial role in the Civil War like Lincoln or Grant. He’s most famously remembered, of course, for leading American forces in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, a battle which the United States won although it’s mostly remembered at this point for being a battle that was actually fought after the war was officially over. Prior to that, during the time in served in Florida, Jackson was mostly known for what we would now consider atrocities against Native Americans and, during his Presidency the nation saw the passage of the passage of the Indian Removal Act and, as noted, the forced removal of tribes such as the Cherokee from vast swaths of the southern United States. So, the arguments in favor of removing him from the $20 bill seem to me to be quite strong.

If Jackson is to be replaced by a woman, Tubman would seem to me to be a particularly appropriate choice, especially given the fact that Jackson was a slaveholder and Tubman was the woman who worked to help slaves escape to freedom in the states north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and Canada, in the years before the Civil War. The interesting thing about this debate, though, is that it seems to me that we’re probably not very far from the point where paper currency becomes nearly extinct — I know that I rarely use any bill larger than a $20 bill on a regular basis at this point, and even then not very often — so this could very well be the last person who ever appears on a new piece of paper currency.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Race and Politics, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I voted for her. She was a truly amazing woman who rose to the times she lived in with a depth of courage that few possess.

  2. Mu says:

    History laundry is such a noble endeavor. Lets make sure nobody thinks Jackson was any good, but lets keep Florida and all the lands he acquired.

  3. John Peabody says:

    Cash will never become extinct as long as there are illegal transactions to be made, i.e., forever.

  4. Tyrell says:

    Andrew Jackson is the only president that a time of US history is named after: the “Jacksonian era.” That speaks for itself. He was master of the American victory over the British at New Orleans, one of the greatest military accomplishments in US history. He assembled a motley crew of cut throats, pirates, hunters, and criminals, leading them to victory over a British force that was superior in numbers and experience. Jackson oversaw the continued growth and expansion of this country: Manifest Destiny ! You don’t hear much about that now, but it got this country where it is today ! Now we are in a revisionist time in our study of history and Jackson is now cast by certain groups as a bad guy. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a great American. Jackson was against paper currency so he probably wouldn’t object to his image being removed. If these critics were around back then, they would be Jackson supporters like most everyone else was. So much today is situational ethics.
    As far as a replacement, I am sure Tubman did some good things, but if they are going to all the trouble to change it, let’s at least get someone from modern times. And why does it have to be a woman? I was thinking of people like Einstein, Howard Hughes, Patton, MacArthur, Babe Ruth, or even Elizabeth Taylor.
    Why not have a whole group of people and print them all ? That way people could request a certain bill. It would be an attraction for collectors. People would get more involved and excited about cash again. Plastic and wire transactions are so boring.
    “Manifest destiny…….manifest destiny”

  5. R.Dave says:

    Ha! Thanks, Tyrell; I do love a good bit of satire. At first I thought you were being serious, and I was shaking my head in dismay at the moral failure of defending Jackson and minimizing his atrocities, but then I got to your second paragraph and realized you were obviously spoofing the kind of brain dead idiots who still think Jackson was great and oppose replacing him on the $20. Harriet Tubman “did some good things” but wouldn’t it be better to have people like Babe Ruth and Elizabeth Taylor….?! Hahahaha! Nicely done, man. Nicely done.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @R.Dave: Satire…. An interesting theory anyway.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    Jackson is usually ranked among the top 10 Presidents, over some like JFK and Grant that are on currency. He represents the democratization of the country, and white male suffrage. He founded the Democratic Party, introduced retail politics the spoils system, and a powerful independent executive. He saved the Union from secessionism.(*) His opponents, initially identified as the Anti-Jacksons, would later form the Whig Party.

    (*) For this reason, Lincoln, an anti-Jacksonian, installed a portrait of Jackson in a prominent place when he moved into the White Hourse.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    R. Dave is an optimist.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    I’m largely indifferent to symbolism, but sure, why not? A twenty will still cover a Wendy’s drive-thru.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: It is indeed unfair to judge historical figures by modern standards. Yes, Jackson owned slaves, but so did Washington and Jefferson. He did do terrible things, but he did so in the context and spirit of his times, when racism, including against Native Americans was commonplace. On the other hand, those are valid reasons to not single him out for honors in the present. You were doing OK ’til you got to Howard Hughes, who is basically a trivial footnote in history.

  11. JKB says:

    @John Peabody:

    Cash or some means of direct physical exchange will never become extinct as long as the strong winds blow, the flood waters rise, battles rage, or the communications and power grids are subject to disruption.

    The fantasy of an all electronic money system is based on the flawed assumption that governments will remain functional at all times and people will tolerate being at the mercy of FEMA when the lights go out. If you want an insurrection, then the US government send armed enforcers against people simply trying to survive in the aftermath of a disaster by private exchange.

    The illegal uses are just bonus.

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @gVOR08:

    He did do terrible things, but he did so in the context and spirit of his times, when racism, including against Native Americans was commonplace.

    However, even in his times, there many who thought differently. Yes, people owned slaves at the time — but at the same time there were also abolitionists who worked against slavery and realized it was a great evil. Yes, at the time racism against Indians was commonplace — but it was not universal, and even many who were casually racist towards Indians did not support the ethnic cleansing of the Cherokee.

    The past is not a monolith.

  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    Dementia is a sad thing.

  14. Ben says:

    @Tyrell: Wow, that was simply stunning. Jackson is a hard man to whitewash. He has a damned good argument for most vile person ever to sit as president.

    He was one of the largest slave-owners of the time, and treated his slaves brutally even by contemporary standards.

    He illegally invaded Florida in search of runaway slaves, kicking off a war against the Seminole tribe, and even executed British settlers that were living on the Seminole land, claiming that their support for the natives was “inciting warfare against the United States”

    He basically just ignored existing treaties with the Native Americans and had one of his own men “negotiate” a new treaty on their behalf, giving up all of their land and continually forcing relocation.

    He had Native women and children systematically slaughtered after battles
    “Manifest Destiny” is just euphemism for “we’re going to take all of your land, and we’re going to call it moral and holy because we’re white and God likes white people.” It was just imperialism cloaked in racism.

    He almost destroyed civil service in the country with his corrupt spoils system.

    He’s the only president to openly defy the Supreme Court and challenge the judicial authority granted in the Constitution.

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    On the plus side of the case for the new bill, a flood of Harriett Tubmans raining down on a stripper might cause her to rethink some of her life choices….

  16. Slugger says:

    In this age of practically instantaneous cyber technology I think we should go for a novel solution. Let’s have the Treasury continue the dead Presidents bills but add in a new bill. This bill would contain an electronically readable strip which would encode a verification protocol and the amount of dollars which could be onloaded like on a prepaid credit card. Any citizen could then load any specific amount onto the bill and would then also personally design the honoree on the face of the bill. I would then walk around Chicago with $23 bills featuring Michael Jordan and $9 bills with John Lennon. Of course, you might get into trouble flashing a $2 Derek Jeter in Boston; so I’d make sure I had some $8 Yastrzemskis on me in Beantown. Need a woman on a bill? Why not Mom?

  17. JKB says:

    @PD Shaw:

    But, but he owned slaves even though the first abolition of slavery in the world in his time didn’t happen until just 7 years before his death when Great Britain abolished it in their territory.

  18. Hank says:

    Tubman has a face that cries out for glasses and a handlebar mustache.

  19. Trumwill says:

    I’m kind of wanting to hold out for some serious currency reform before making any changes. Make changing up some of the faces on the currency (not just Jackson) tied to getting rid of the penny and moving towards an exclusive dollar coin. Then use the faces on the currency to get people on board with the more substantive changes (Reagan for GOP support, Tubman is fine, Mankiller maybe… heck let’s even consider Obama).

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    But, but he owned slaves even though the first abolition of slavery in the world in his time didn’t happen until just 7 years before his death when Great Britain abolished it in their territory.

    Simply not true. First, many European states at the time had not had slavery, period. Second, while Britain was the first nation-state that practiced slavery that then outlawed it, there were many states in the Union that outlawed slavery before that time (New York State’s Gradual Emancipation Act, for example, was passed in 1799, Massachusetts emancipated its slaves via court order in 1783, Connecticut passed the Gradual Abolition Act in 1784, New Hampshire also in 1784, etc.). Jackons was born in 1767, to this wave of emanicpation began when he was a teenager, not “just 7 years before his death.”

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Seriously, JKB, have you ever even heard of Google? Despite having your ignorance refuted time and time and time again, have you never even had the slightest urge to do even one minute of research before posting something?

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rafer Janders: He’s got a mind like a steel sieve.

  23. aFloridian says:

    Frankly, I don’t see the need to change it from Jackson. Not minimizing his atrocities, but I agree with Tyrell that his impact was HUGE both politically, materially, and geographically. And if we are worried about moral stains on legacies – how can we tolerate Washington and Jefferson?

    That said, I think Harriet Tubman is an interesting choice. It’s hard to find a woman who fits the traditional idea of “Founding Fathers” on currency because, well, they are “fathers” and woman in those days had to contribute in other ways. Harriet Tubman certainly did a lot of brave things, although I obviously can’t condone her support of the criminal John Brown.

    Before writing this I had a discussion with a young Jewish man I know, who is not particularly open-minded. He thought the choice was ridiculous, especially since “she changed nothing, the war would have been won anyway” and “I don’t think we should have someone on our currency who only benefited a certain demographic.” My argument in turn, then, was why do we have Washington on our currency? Isn’t it possible to argue he only benefited a certain demographic – i.e. landed white gentry. Certainly black folks didn’t really benefit. As a matter of fact, had the British won, they would have benefited thanks to slavery being eliminated far sooner. So how is he any different from that angle?

    I’m not sure I’d support Harriet Tubman – certainly I would over Eleanor and Rosa Parks. I do kind of understand my colleague’s sentiment that she did not serve in an elected office, but then again, one might argue the same of Franklin under a strict construction. If only Condileeza Rice had done something truly huge – she’d be a great choice as the first black female SoS.

    Maybe the liberals ought to just wait for Hillary to win and then y’all can put her on there.

  24. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: Hughes – indeed a reclusive, strange figure who is not well known today, but was a glamorous, poplular person in his time, which some people still remember. He had many accomplishments in the aircraft industry, including flush riveting, pressurized cabins, huge cargo planes, and a prototype for the US fighter planes of WW 2. He pioneered the satelite communications field and an underseas exploration – salvage sub. Hughes ranks in there with Wright Brothers, Ford, Edison, and Admiral Rickover.
    I remember in the ’60’s: even then Hughes was still in the news ! People were fascinated with him.

  25. Gustopher says:

    Ok, sure, but for balance, can we get Strom Thurman on the $10?

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    @aFloridian:

    Before writing this I had a discussion with a young Jewish man I know, who is not particularly open-minded. He thought the choice was ridiculous, especially since “she changed nothing, the war would have been won anyway” and “I don’t think we should have someone on our currency who only benefited a certain demographic.” My argument in turn, then, was why do we have Washington on our currency?

    Because don’t you know, white men are the default! They’re the baseline standard! All else are deviations from the norm!

  27. Louisiana Steve says:

    I nominate Thomas Edison. He did more to make life better, safer, comfortable, and just plain healthier than any of these other folks.

  28. Gustopher says:

    @aFloridian:

    Harriet Tubman certainly did a lot of brave things, although I obviously can’t condone her support of the criminal John Brown

    I think John Brown gets a bad rap — slavery was a vile institution, and needed to be destroyed. Given how well the Reconstruction played out (we are still fighting the same battles now), I think a more militant solution would have been better.

    The wealth generated by slavery was wrong. The aristocracy supported by that wealth should have been destroyed. Whether they were all killed in a slave uprising or not… Meh, a trivial matter compared to the horrors of slavery.

  29. Kylopod says:

    @Trumwill:

    Reagan for GOP support

    There would indeed be an unintended irony in placing on our currency the president who turned our country from a creditor to a debtor nation. Maybe we can put him on a bill with negative value? You could rob a person by simply handing them the bill. Awesome way to cut down on violent crime. A testament to St. Ronnie’s powers beyond the grave.

  30. aFloridian says:

    @Gustopher:

    I understand your point. I think we are very, very fortunate that the John Browns and Nat Turners failed. I feel the same way about how fortunate the nation was as the war was ending that General Lee did not encourage his troops to conduct guerrilla warfare, and further that Lincoln did not set us on the path of bloody vengeance (Reconstruction and Redemption happened, sure, but it could have been hanging for every Confederate officer, etc.).

    Violence may sometimes be necessary, but it seems to me that we narrowly dodged French Revolution or Haitian Revolution -level bloodshed. I get that even a single day more slavery was an injustice (which is why I fail to see the strength of the argument many apologists among my fellow Southerners use that economic reality would have killed slavery any) but would we have even the progress we have today if slavery had been overthrown in that fashion? I don’t know how you come back from that and don’t instead descend into even worse tribalism than we have.

  31. PD Shaw says:

    @aFloridian: “As a matter of fact, had the British won, they would have benefited thanks to slavery being eliminated far sooner.”

    Debatable. The rhetoric of freedom and natural rights from the American Revolution sparked the anti-slavery movement, with Vermont outlawing slavery in 1777, and other Northern states following suit. Congress outlawed slavery in the Northwest territories and came within one vote of doing the same in the Southwest territories.

    Had the rebels lost, their ideology would have suffered a set-back, both in the colonies and in the mother-country. Arguments premised on natural liberty would have been seen as far more seditious.

    The conflict between principle and pragmatism that impeded emancipation would not have become easier with the British in charge. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 did not apply to India. Would it have applied to any colonies economically dependent on cotton? The British compensated the slave-owners, could they afford to pay for more? Would the colonies have rebelled in the 1830s and created a Slave Republic, endowed with the principle that all men are not created equal?

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @aFloridian:

    (Reconstruction and Redemption happened, sure, but it could have been hanging for every Confederate officer, etc.).

    And it should have been — at the least, hanging for every Confederate officer and high government oficial such as Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, etc. who had previously held a commission in the United States Army or Navy. After having sworn an oath to preserve and protect the United States these men then led an open and armed insurrection against the very country whose defense they were bound to uphold. If they weren’t traitors then the word has no meaning.

  33. James Pearce says:

    @Louisiana Steve:

    I nominate Thomas Edison.

    But he killed an elephant once!

    (Point being that there’s no such thing as an untainted hero.)

    @Trumwill:

    Make changing up some of the faces on the currency (not just Jackson) tied to getting rid of the penny and moving towards an exclusive dollar coin.

    I’m okay with getting rid of the penny (the coin) but I don’t think it would be wise to get rid of the cent. And I don’t see how you get rid of the penny while retaining the cent.

    I like the idea of a dollar coin though. Especially if it came with some incentives to encourage adoption. I’m tired of sticking 16 quarters in the machine every time I go to the laundromat.

  34. Rafer Janders says:

    @aFloridian:

    Violence may sometimes be necessary, but it seems to me that we narrowly dodged French Revolution or Haitian Revolution -level bloodshed.

    2.5% of the US population died in the Civil War, with many more wounded and maimed for life, a figure that, if we adjusted for today’s population, would be akin to 7 million Americans dying in a war within four years.

    We HAD a French Revolution level of violence — though unfortunately most of those who died were poor Southerners who didn’t own slaves, rather than the wealthy slaveowners who, if there had been justice, should all have been slaughtered in their beds by the poor people whom they’d been holding captive, torturing and raping all their lives.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @aFloridian:

    I obviously can’t condone her support of the criminal John Brown.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…… 10,000 unemployed comedians and here you are giving it away for free.

  36. Rafer Janders says:

    @aFloridian:

    and further that Lincoln did not set us on the path of bloody vengeance

    We had bloody vengeance for a hundred years afterwards — unfortunately, it was bloody vengeance by the white Southerners against their former slaves via Jim Crow laws, lynchings, the terrorist Klan, etc.

    We were, unfortunately, too soft towards the South. It should at the least have been occupied by US Army troops for the next generation in order to protect African-Americans against the oppression of the former slavers.

  37. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: Edison was a mean bastard when it came to the DC vs. AC fight. Luckily Westinghouse won.

    And I still haven’t forgiven Edison for his attempt to stretch patent rights far beyond any reason. Luckily the Supreme Court knocked him down.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @aFloridian:

    “I don’t think we should have someone on our currency who only benefited a certain demographic.”

    Question: Does he really think he did not benefit from the end of slavery? Really? I know I did.

  39. rodney dill says:

    @aFloridian:

    Maybe the liberals ought to just wait for Hillary to win and then y’all can put her on there.

    I think she could meet the criteria for being on the twenty by mid 2017.

  40. Trumwill says:

    @James Pearce: You might be able to keep the cent in non-cash transactions, I haven’t really thought about it, but I think a fraction of a nickel should become like a fraction of a penny is now. Just round up (or down) and be done with it.

    An alternative, if not put into currency reform, is to require retailers to round. Start with Montana.

  41. Tyrell says:

    @PD Shaw: I had a history teacher who believed the same thing. If England had won the Revolution, the slavery issue would have been settled, no Civil War, and large territories would have been organized as provinces under the control of the natives. He also had ideas on : if Booth had missed, if Hitler had not been born, if Kennedy had not gone to Dallas.

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    I agree. The vilification of John Brown is the inevitable abuse we heap on people who are right too soon. You get no credit in this country for being right unless you’re no more than six months ahead of the consensus.

  43. Andre Kenji says:

    @aFloridian:

    As a matter of fact, had the British won, they would have benefited thanks to slavery being eliminated far sooner.

    I doubt. Clothes at the time would be three times more expensive without slavery.

  44. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce: Would you believe that there is a dollar coin? I use them at the vending machines at work. It’s also the only place I get them…

    But they are real currency, not some kind of weird corporate scrip that is only good in the employee store!

  45. Gustopher says:

    @aFloridian:

    Reconstruction and Redemption happened

    Reconstruction was a failure.

    The slaves went from being property to being sharecroppers, with no assets (no 40 acres and a mule, no share in the profits from their many years of labors) and no economic prospects other than to keep working on the plantations.

    The 10% Plan left the aristocracy that benefited from slavery in place, now benefitting from sharecroppers. They got to keep their ill-gotten gains, and they remained active in politics ever since, crystalizing in Jim Crow and Segregation, along with the reign of terror causes by the KKK.

    Slavery corrupted the South. We didn’t do enough to root out that corruption. The plantations should have been broken up, and the traitorous, immoral slave holders hung from street lamps. Also, we should have installed street lamps.

  46. Pinky says:

    I just checked Smithsonian’s 100 Most Significant Americans list from last year. Tubman wasn’t on it. (Hulk Hogan was, for what it’s worth.)

  47. PD Shaw says:

    I don’t think I would choose Tubman or any of the other listed options. She seems to be listed for contributions to the African-American struggle for freedom and equality, but it just makes me wonder why Dr. MLK Jr. isn’t on any currency. He’s come to represent the key figure of the larger, longer movement. Similarly, Susan B. Anthony has come to represent the women’s suffrage movement, but I guess she screwed up the dollar coin so she is being blackballed now?

  48. PD Shaw says:

    John Brown was “insane” and had Republicans been implicated in his terrorist plot, it would have cost Lincoln’s election. Politically, he put anti-slave opinion on the defensive.

  49. michael reynolds says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Tubman is a two-fer, black and female, MLK is not. I imagine that’s the rationale. MLK is clearly deserving as one of the most significant people in our history, Tubman is more of a stretch. Tubman is an outstanding example of morality backed by courage, but I’d personally be happier seeing Dr. King.

    Or we could just drop the insistence on essentially political choices and go with great Americans who made big cultural or scientific contributions, in which case I nominate Robert Johnson. Who better to adorn filthy lucre than a man who sold his soul to the devil just so he could play guitar?

  50. michael reynolds says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Brown was insane but people who not only believed they could own a human being but would fight a war to defend that belief were sane?

  51. Tyrell says:

    @Rafer Janders: I respectfully take great exception to your portrayal and comments, opinions, and dispersions that are being thrown around and cast about concerning southern leaders and military officers. These men attended military schools with officers from the north at West Point and other academies. They remained a close cadre and many served together again after the war was over. These officers served with honor and courage. The hallowed grounds of battlefields and West Point echo with their names, the roll call of valor, their deeds and exploits forever etched in many a persons’ remembrance of their history lessons: Grant and Lee, Sherman and Jackson, McClellan and Beauregard, Burnside, Stuart, Pickett, Custer: these are the heroes who filled our daydreams on warm summer days. Our admiration knew no political or geographical boundaries.

  52. stonetools says:

    @James Pearce:

    Didn’t Edison cheat Tesla out of a fortune, and drive him from the country, thus preventing us from already having broadcast power and flying cars?

    As for Harriet Tubman, why not? She was a hero who rescued people from slavery. It would be a potent symbol of how far the country has come that she replaced a slave trader, slave owner, and oppressor of native Americans.

  53. Pinky says:

    Edison, Salk, Fulton, the Wright brothers, all fine choices. Henry Ford probably deserves it more than any of them in how he defined modern America, but I wouldn’t support him.

  54. JohnMcC says:

    What would, say, CITI be willing to pay the Treasury for the privilege of having a big holographic ad in the middle of the $20?

  55. aFloridian says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    And it should have been — at the least, hanging for every Confederate officer and high government oficial such as Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, etc. who had previously held a commission in the United States Army or Navy. After having sworn an oath to preserve and protect the United States these men then led an open and armed insurrection against the very country whose defense they were bound to uphold. If they weren’t traitors then the word has no meaning.

    We HAD a French Revolution level of violence — though unfortunately most of those who died were poor Southerners who didn’t own slaves, rather than the wealthy slaveowners who, if there had been justice, should all have been slaughtered in their beds by the poor people whom they’d been holding captive, torturing and raping all their lives.

    But I would distinguish between the deaths of regular armed forces during our war as compared to the much more widespread and atypical carnage occurring in France. Although damage to infrastructure was probably worse.

    Also, not sure hanging the Confederate leaders would have been the right course. Certainly as traitors from the Union point of view, it was a possibility as much as it was for our own Founding Fathers had they lost. Lincoln was right to look for a more harmonious way of forging a lasting peace, and I’ve long felt Southerners were betraying themselves when John Wilkes Boothe shot Lincoln and allowed less able leaders to come to the fore. It’s hard to say with certainty though. Without the societal leaders from the aristocracy, would the South have been more malleable and amenable to Reconstructionesque change or would it have inflamed tensions further. Things were bad enough during Jim Crow it’s really hard to say, but I’m not sure slitting every slaveowner’s throat while they slept would end up any better than reclaiming all the farm land in Zimbabwe has been.

  56. aFloridian says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That’s the argument I made – anyone who contributing to removing the stain of slavery from our society benefited us all, and saying otherwise sounds incredibly tone deaf. As a Southerner, particularly, I am glad not to have inherited that particular sin. We have plenty of problems, many long-running, but an entire race of people are not being held as chattel in my beloved home region anymore, and that is a blessing bestowed upon us by all those who fought against slavery.

    An interesting vignette that comes from a book I have yet to read (looking for a good original copy rather than a cheap internet reprint) is Frederick Law Olmstead’s Journey Into the Cotton Kingdom – I’m very interested in eyewitness recollections of the South, and most are colored by abolitionist or slave holding agendas which makes veracity tough to determine – where the famous architect remarks that, during his journey South, virtually every great Plantation house he was feted in had no books of any repute, just cotton-growing manuals and so forth. Because a slave economy had no need of the beauty or imagination of literature, or for great philosophy.

    As a people Southerners may still be anti-intellectual as a whole, but defeating slavery helped put libraries in our communities. Yet one more way ending slavery benefited us all.

  57. James Pearce says:

    @Trumwill:

    I think a fraction of a nickel should become like a fraction of a penny is now. Just round up (or down) and be done with it.

    That’s how it would have to work, and on any individual transaction, no big deal. We’re talking about a maximum of 4 cents that would evaporate into the rounding ether.

    But if we’re talking about a lot of transactions…..that adds up. Indeed, I think we have this phenomenon to thank for the penny’s continued existence.

    @Gustopher:

    Would you believe that there is a dollar coin?

    Sure, I get about 17 of them when I put a twenty into the Light Rail kiosk. (Buses take them too.)

    But the laundromat, unsurprisingly has found it is cheaper to have me use 16 quarters than for them to pay even a penny towards upgrading their machines.

  58. Rafer Janders says:

    @aFloridian:

    Also, not sure hanging the Confederate leaders would have been the right course. Certainly as traitors from the Union point of view,

    The Union point of view is the American point of view. These men took an oath to preserve and protect the United States of America, and then organized a violent armed insurrection against the country they’d sworn to protect, and, by scheming to get Britain and France into the war on their side, also collaborated with America’s enemies to damage her. That’s treachery and treason, plain and simple. If, by the standards of the time, that didn’t deserve the hangman’s noose, then nothing did.

  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @aFloridian:

    But I would distinguish between the deaths of regular armed forces during our war as compared to the much more widespread and atypical carnage occurring in France.

    There was widespread carnage during the Civil War as well that extended far beyond the battlefield. Large numbers of the civilian population, largely in the South, died during sieges, of famine, disease, terrorism, etc.

  60. al-Ameda says:

    @aFloridian:

    If only Condileeza Rice had done something truly huge – she’d be a great choice as the first black female SoS.

    Maybe the liberals ought to just wait for Hillary to win and then y’all can put her on there.

    (1) Well, Condoleeza Rice did do something huge, she helped Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld sell the notion that if we do not go to war in Iraq we might be in danger of a nuclear attack.

    “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly Saddam can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” (Rice, September 2002) I’d say that that warrants consideration to have her put on a thirteen dollar bill.

    (2) If Hillary wins I suggest that we put an image of Vince Foster on a billion dollar bill.

  61. @Louisiana Steve:

    I nominate Thomas Edison. He did more to make life better, safer, comfortable, and just plain healthier than any of these other folks.

    Maybe combine this and wanting a woman:

    Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper

  62. @Trumwill:

    I think a fraction of a nickel should become like a fraction of a penny is now. Just round up (or down) and be done with it.

    .0 cent = 0 cent (0)
    .1 cent = 0 cent (-.1)
    .2 cent = 0 cent (-.2)
    .3 cent = 0 cent (-.3)
    .4 cent = 0 cent (-.4)
    .5 cent = 1 cent (.5)
    .6 cent = 1 cent (.4)
    .7 cent = 1 cent (.3)
    .8 cent = 1 cent (.2)
    .9 cent = 1 cent (.1)

    Expected diffence per transaction due to rounding: 0.05 cents per transaction

    Average convenience store serves 3200 customers per day

    Over the course of a year, a convenience store makes almost $60,000 in additional revenue due to the bias in cent rounding on gas sales.

  63. Tyrell says:

    @Gustopher: After Lincoln was out of the way, certain people in the Federal government forced the so-called “reconstruction” on the south, which was an illegal occupation by Federal troops in order to break and subjugate the southern people. People came down to pillage and plunder property and businesses. It took the south a long time to recover from this wanton “deconstruction”.
    That is the history as I was taught.

  64. Tillman says:

    @Rafer Janders: Weird how that can be flipped around. The South were traitors but the North were outlaws for not executing traitors.

    Weird how reconciliation works. The South got some measure of honor and the North got to ignore the plight of the people they fought so hard to free.

  65. Trumwill says:

    @James Pearce: For what it’s worth, Canada has gotten rid of the penny without getting rid of the cent. I’d be fine with that, too.

  66. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pinky: It causes me to wonder what the definition of “significant” is at the Smithsonian. Curious.

  67. Monala says:

    @michael reynolds: Part of the move to put a woman in particular on the twenty is because 2020 is the centennial of women’s suffrage in the U.S.

  68. Monala says:

    @Monala: Oh yeah, duh. The article says so. Oh well, it bears repeating.

  69. Pascal says:

    There already are women on U.S. currency: Susan B. Anthony and Sacajawea.

  70. Paul Hooson says:

    The Jackson era sadly prolonged slavery for about 20 more years in the U.S. – It’s refreshing to see someone who represents racial equality and justice as a top choice to replace the bad racial era of Jackson with something more upbeat…

  71. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Rafer Janders: As has been noted elsewhere in OTB, that approach did wonders for acceptance of British rule in Ireland after the 1916 Easter Rebellion.

  72. Tony W says:

    @PD Shaw:

    but I guess she screwed up the dollar coin so she is being blackballed now?

    The screw up was that we continue, to this day, to print paper $1 bills.

  73. Blue Galangal says:

    @Tyrell:

    After Lincoln was out of the way, certain people in the Federal government forced the so-called “reconstruction” on the south, which was an illegal occupation by Federal troops in order to break and subjugate the southern people. People came down to pillage and plunder property and businesses. It took the south a long time to recover from this wanton “deconstruction”.
    That is the history as I was taught.

    That is myth and propaganda you were taught.

  74. aFloridian says:

    The Union point of view is the American point of view. These men took an oath to preserve and protect the United States of America, and then organized a violent armed insurrection against the country they’d sworn to protect, and, by scheming to get Britain and France into the war on their side, also collaborated with America’s enemies to damage her. That’s treachery and treason, plain and simple. If, by the standards of the time, that didn’t deserve the hangman’s noose, then nothing did.

    Yes, you’re right, that’s the American point of view. There is also a Southern point of view, which, as is often the case, diverges from the rest of the nation. Lots of Southerners still revel in the Lost Cause, which I do not. A group of slaveholding oligarchs manipulated the masses of farmers and craftsman through regional pride, supremacist rhetoric, economic arguments, etc. to fight to perpetuate an institution which benefited them only in that they were white. I think I’ve said before here at least two of my grandfathers(x 4) fought in the war for the Confederacy. From what I can tell they were not slave-owners. I did have ancestors further up the line, including one in NC who purportedly owned several hundred slaves and was a Revolutionary War militia captain – Abraham Kuykendall – but when you get back to the 1700s he might be YOUR ancestor too if your family aren’t recent immigrants.

    So obviously I have a bias, being both a Southerner and a “SCV” eligible person (who could not stomach the revisionism if I tried to join). I often say it is a very good thing the South lost, which makes my fellow Southerners uncomfortable, but it’s a reality. Even so, I question whether rank-and-file were really betraying the ideals of the nation. As a collection of States, I think that the Confederacy did/should have had the right to secede, even though they shouldn’t have done it. I realize the conclusion today is that they had no such right. But I distinguish between those signing articles of secession and those mustering after their states had declared themselves independent.

    There was widespread carnage during the Civil War as well that extended far beyond the battlefield. Large numbers of the civilian population, largely in the South, died during sieges, of famine, disease, terrorism, etc.

    Very true. I’m not sure how the numbers compare – maybe it was the nature of the deaths in those over places that seems different to me (i.e. more strictly political violence, a la Robespierre) but I acknowledge the distinction might be weak or false.

  75. Trumwill says:

    @aFloridian:

    Even so, I question whether rank-and-file were really betraying the ideals of the nation. As a collection of States, I think that the Confederacy did/should have had the right to secede, even though they shouldn’t have done it.

    I consider the “why” to be very important. Leaving over policy differences, cultural differences, or whatnot… well, I’d be hard-pressed to tell Hawaii or Alaska or Maine that they couldn’t leave and become independent or join Canada.

    But there is a duty to the people of a state in addition to the state itself. If the purpose of leaving is so that one group of people can actively oppress another group of people, that’s just not the same. So the right to exit cannot be made unconditional (short of an impossible unanimous vote of its people).

    (In the case of the Civil War, this is complicated by the fact that slaves weren’t entirely considered people in the North or the South. But it was increasingly the case that they were, in the North, even if they were talking and mentally working around articulating it.)

  76. Rafer Janders says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:

    As has been noted elsewhere in OTB, that approach did wonders for acceptance of British rule in Ireland after the 1916 Easter Rebellion.

    Different cases entirely. Sometimes repression works, sometimes it doesn’t. For every case you can point to where repression spurred the population on to greater resistance, I can point to two where repression demoralized dissent and crushed the rebels.

    I mean, certainly in Ireland’s case alone, the British policy of hanging the Irish rebel leaders worked pretty well for them five hundred years — and then it didn’t work for five. Overall, repression was a success.

  77. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Rafer Janders: It could have hurt Britain badly from 1939 to 1945, when the Royal Navy badly needed access to harbors within the Republic of Ireland to combat the U-boat menace. I would agree with the majority of commentators here that it’s a pity that Reconstruction laws weren’t effectively enforced to protect the rights of the freed slaves. I’m not sure how a series of show trials and executions would have accomplished that goal.

  78. Rafer Janders says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:

    It could have hurt Britain badly from 1939 to 1945, when the Royal Navy badly needed access to harbors within the Republic of Ireland to combat the U-boat menace.

    I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, since Ireland achieved its independence in 1922.

  79. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Rafer Janders: Ireland didn’t gain full independence until 1937, if memory serves. The British government made approaches to the Irish government seeking permission to use Irish harbors, but de Valera was adamant in his refusal.

  80. Tyrell says:

    Nothing against Ms. Tubman, but could they come up with a better picture or do some major retouching ?

  81. Grewgills says:

    @Tyrell:
    That is one of the iconic pictures of Harriet Tubman. Take a look at the bills in your pocket and use the same standard to judge the men in those pictures as you used to judge Ms Tubman.

  82. Monala says:

    @Grewgills: Thank you! I was going to say something similar. Harriet Tubman wasn’t a very attractive woman, but most of the men who appear on our currency weren’t very attractive either. Yet how often does anyone mention that?!

  83. Xenos says:

    @aFloridian:

    Harriet Tubman certainly did a lot of brave things, although I obviously can’t condone her support of the criminal John Brown.

    Tubman quite sensibly steered clear of any involvement with John Brown’s military adventure.

    After his son’ being murdered by anti-american terrorists, I really can’t blame Brown for much.

    His truth goes marching on, you know.

  84. Rodney Dill says:

    @Grewgills: I kind of agree with Tyrell about the picture. I’d prefer they would use one that looked less airbrushed. I googled her image and even using the pictures of her when older would be preferred. It’s not a judgement of her looks, just the quality of the picture. Though to be fair the mock-up just sticks her head on Jackson’s shoulders which adds to the grotesque imagery.