Tubman on the $20?

UNITED STATES

If a group of campaigners has its way, by 2020, when Americans withdraw cash from an ATM, it will be Harriet Tubman’s portrait gracing the $20 bill, not Andrew Jackson’s. (Christian Science Monitor)

Use our resources to learn more about Harriet Tubman.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including today’s poll.

Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, in 1822. She escaped from slavery in 1849, using the loosely affiliated networks of the Underground Railroad in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Less than a year later, she she began returning to Maryland to begin helping family members escape. Photograph by H. B. Lindsley, courtesy Library of Congress

Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, in 1822. She escaped slavery in 1849, using the loosely affiliated networks of the Underground Railroad in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Less than a year later, she she began returning to Maryland to help family members escape.
Photograph by H. B. Lindsley, courtesy Library of Congress

Discussion Ideas

  • Why do people want to change the portrait on the $20?
    • A woman’s portrait does not appear on any paper currency of the United States, and a grass-roots organization, Women on 20s, thinks that should change. Leaders from President Barack Obama to talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres agree.
    • 2020 is the centennial of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women’s right to vote. It would be a symbolic recognition of a major civil rights milestone.

 

 

  • Why do supporters think Harriet Tubman deserves to have her portrait on the $20 bill?
    • Tubman was an American hero, nicknamed “Moses” by the dozens of slaves she ushered to freedom through the Underground Railroad in the 19th century.

 

 

  • Harriet Tubman wasn’t a president—don’t you have to be a president to be on a bill?
    • Nope!
      • Alexander Hamilton, first secretary of the treasury, is on the $10 bill.
      • Benjamin Franklin, all-around Founding Father, is on the $100 bill.

 

 

 

  • Why are some people criticizing the idea of Harriet Tubman appearing on the $20 bill?
    • Some critics think the U.S. should continue to recognize President Jackson, citing:
      • his legacy as a military leader in the War of 1812
      • the fact that slavery was legal at the time of his presidency, and common among owners of large plantations in the South
      • the idea that the Indian Removal Act is misrepresented as racist, and was in fact “a long-term solution to a crisis that was threatening the stability and strength of the nascent American union as well as the existence of the Cherokee as a people.”
    • Some critics think a $20 bill with Harriet Tubman’s portrait would be “hush money” that won’t address the ongoing issues of race in the U.S. “I don’t want Harriet Tubman’s face on a $20 bill,” says one critic. “I want our people to be free from the chains of institutionalized racism and economic slavery. That’s how we honor her.”

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Christian Science Monitor: Will Harriet Tubman grace $20 bills? Why some groups don’t want that.

Nat Geo: Who was Harriet Tubman?

U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing: FAQ

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