Harriet Tubman to Replace Andrew Jackson on $20 Bill

HarrietTubmanAfter months of speculation and an intense debate, Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, becoming the first African-American to appear on U.S. paper currency and the first woman in more than a century.

The Treasury Department originally planned to have a woman replace founding father Alexander Hamilton on the $10 but ultimately decided to replace Jackson on the $20 instead.

“Today, I’m excited to announce that for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman, Harriet Tubman, on the $20 note,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told reporters during a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embody the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates, and we’ll continue to value her legacy by honoring her on our currency.”

Lew said the decision to keep Hamilton on the $10 came in response to an unexpected show of support for Hamilton after the plan was announced last June. Hamilton’s spike is popularity comes from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical based on his life by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lew made the decision to honor Tubman on U.S currency after reading Catherine Clinton’s Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom and discovering a new side of Tubman that he hadn’t been exposed to before. “I think most people are unaware of the full dimensions of her Civil War career. I’m a Civil War historian, and I was unaware,” said Clinton, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “It took her 30 years to get her pension from the government, because she was a spy and a scout and she worked behind enemy lines.”

Tubman grew up working on a Maryland plantation and escaped in her late 20s. She returned to the South to help hundreds of black slaves to freedom and worked as a Union spy during the Civil War. She died in 1913.

The $5, $10 and $20 bills will all be redesigned over the next four years, but will be put into production at various times over the next decade.

pictured: A recently-found photograph of escaped slave, abolitionist and Union spy Harriet Tubman that was acquired by the Smithsonian is displayed before a hearing of the House Administration Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 17, 2015 in Washington, DC. Auburn, New York, photographer H. Seymour Squyer made the photograph around 1885. Born into slavery, Tubman used a network of antislavery activists and safe houses known at the Underground Railroad to help lead about 13 missions to rescue about 70 enslaved family and friends. (Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)