Let's Put a Woman on the $20 Bill

andrew jackson

Ugh. Get off my money! 

Here is the most sensible idea I’ve heard in a long time: kick Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with someone who has actually changed America for the better. Preferably a woman. 

That’s the idea behind the Women on 20s campaign, a nonprofit pushing to get a woman on the $20 bill. So far, 60,000 people have voted in the nonprofit’s final poll of hypothetical choices for the twenty: Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Wilma Mankiller are all top choices. “Though all these women and many more deserve to be honored, the winner will be a symbol of what we hope are greater things to come,” Women on 20s Director Susan Ades Stone told ABC News.

There are many women in American history who are vastly more worthy role models for Americans than the man whose greatest legacy is the Indian Removal Act—the legal justification for the Trail of Tears, which led directly to the deaths of 4,000 Cherokee people. Andrew Jackson has his supporters, of course, but his life and politics shouldn’t represent American values: In addition to forcibly removing thousands Native Americans from their homes, Jackson also proudly owned slaves and got rich off their labor.

Booting Jackson off the $20 would definitely be an uphill battle. But last summer, Obama expressed mild support for putting a woman on currency after a young girl wrote to him about the idea. “She gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff, which I thought was a pretty good idea,” said the president. Yep. Sounds good to me, too.

harriet tubman on the 20

Harriet Tubman would be a much better fit on the $20 — image by Women on 20s

Why is Andrew Jackson on the twenty, anyway? That’s a mystery. I’m not exaggerating—historians actually do not know why the Treasury Department put Andrew Jackson on the bill in 1928. The Treasury didn’t keep any records documenting the reasons behind the choice and the choice seems rather arbitrary, given that Jackson didn’t even want the country to use paper money. A historical museum devoted to preserving and teaching Jackson’s legacy told The Washington Post that the museum “did a lot of research” on the question but came up with nothing. I can’t think of a good reason to keep him there, either. 

Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media’s online editor. H/t to Nickey Robo for telling me about this campaign. 

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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3 Comments Have Been Posted

Harriet Tubman vs Abigail Adam

Why would you specifically go after Harriet Tubman when Abigail Adam was the first and most powerful feminist first lady in the entire country? While she was second and first lady she pushed against slavery and fought for women's rights but you chose someone just because they freed slaves? Compared to each other Abigail did more in order to make all slaves free while Harriet only freed some.

Fairly speaking, Abigail was

Fairly speaking, Abigail was white and in the White house. Harriet was black freeing blacks. You could easily assume she was the braver of the two. But they are both incredibly commendable for their work; considering how things still are today, can you imagine fighting for such things when the idea was more new, less widespread and popular? I rather think today we can hardly compare to their bravery...

Abigail vs Harriet

While I agree that both were brave in their own way and time, Abigail had a relatively safe place from which to speak out against inequities ... she may have indeed affected more lives in the long run, but Harriet actually risked her life, not once, but over and over again. Had it been a declared war she was fighting, she would have been eligible for the Congressional Medal of Honor, for her valor, bravery above and beyond and for the lives she saved. Too bad she's already been "voted" out of the running.

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