Goodbye Jackson; hello Tubman. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was expected to announce Wednesday a change of face in the $20 bill, knocking off former President Andrew Jackson in favor of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, a black woman who helped thousands of slaves escape to freedom.
Tubman becomes the first woman featured on U.S. paper currency in modern times.
The change comes after women’s groups fought hard to press Lew to switch out the $10 bill’s Alexander Hamilton for a notable and historical female figure. That bill won’t change, but it’s not yet clear if the compromise $20 bill switch will prove a pacifier for the women’s groups, the New York Times reported.
The $5 bill is expected to receive a redesign, as well, but it’s not yet known what face will appear on that note.
Lew announced in June a woman was likely to grace the front of the $10 bill, but received such blow-back he changed his mind.
The popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” provoked a wave of interest in the man who played a leading role in creating the U.S. financial system and helped the country repay the debt it amassed during the Revolutionary War.
As the New York Times noted: “‘Hamilton’ created legions of fans for the Founder who was already on the bill, not only among well-to-do patrons shelling out big bucks for tickets on Broadway but also among tens of thousands of teenagers memorizing the lyrics and obsessing over details of the first Treasury secretary’s scrappy life story. It did not help matters when ‘Hamilton’ and its creator, Manuel Miranda, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama this week.”
Some women have already expressed dissatisfaction with the decision to keep Hamilton and not replace the image with a female figure.
“It’s yet another ‘wait your turn’ moment for American women,” said political pundit Cokie Roberts in a piece with the New York Times.
The Huffington Post reported Lew is most likely going to modify the back of the $10 bill for an image of women who fought hard for suffrage.