‘Bills, Bills Bills’
Last week, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., accused the Trump administration of intentionally delaying efforts to replace President Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the front of the $20 bill with that of American abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman.
In 2015, Shaheen called on the administration of President Barack Obama to feature a woman on American currency through executive action. Later, Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the plan to replace Jackson with Tubman, widely known for her efforts to lead slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Lew also said the redesign should be completed in time to coincide with the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
Last month, Trump administration Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told members of Congress the $20 bill featuring Tubman would have to be delayed. He said officials believe it is important for security reasons to redesign the $10 and $50 bills before the $20 bill, adding the redesigned $20 bill would not come out until 2028.
After The New York Times on Friday published an image of a $20 bill featuring Tubman which the newspaper said had been obtained from a former Treasury official, Shaheen quickly responded.
“The Trump administration’s indefinite postponement of this redesign is offensive to women and girls, and communities of color, who have been excitedly waiting to see this woman and civil rights icon honored in this special way,” Shaheen said.
“Our currency tells our country’s story and it is past time to honor the contributions of Harriet Tubman,” she added.
We are not sure it is necessary to put someone’s portrait on the $20 bill to honor them. Harriet Tubman is rightfully recognized for her heroic efforts in helping to free slaves and defeat the traitorous Confederates during the Civil War.
Nevertheless, we can find no reason to oppose Tubman replacing Jackson on the $20 bill. In reality, the fact that Jackson appears on U.S. currency at all is rather ironic.
Jackson served as the nation’s seventh president from 1829-1837. For nearly a century, since 1928 to be exact, his face has been on the front of the $20 bill. The irony is that Jackson’s greatest political battle during his presidency was with the Second Bank of the United States.
The website, WhiteHouse.gov, quotes Jackson as telling then-Vice President Martin Van Buren of the bank, “The bank is trying to kill me, but I will kill it!”
That is quite a comment from a man who would one day become most known for being on the $20 bill. Jackson ultimately succeeded, as the bank was never rechartered and ceased to exist as a federal entity by 1836.
We understand many, particularly liberals, look at Jackson and Tubman as antithetical figures in American history. Our view is that looking at what happened almost 200 years ago through the lens of modern values is always going to reveal flaws in human behavior.