New York Times: Credit H. B. Lindsley, via Library of Congress
Sojourner Truth is one of five women to be depicted on the back of the new $10 bill (New York Times: Hulton Archive via Getty Images)
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Marian Anderson will be depicted on back of new $5 bill (New York Times: Allyn Baum/The New York Times; London Express, via Getty Images)
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on Wednesday announced the most sweeping and historically symbolic makeover of American currency in a century, proposing to replace the slaveholding Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist, and to add women and civil rights leaders to the $5 and $10 notes.
Mr. Lew may have reneged on a commitment he made last year to make a woman the face of the $10 bill, opting instead to keep Alexander Hamilton, to the delight of a fan base swollen with enthusiasm over a Broadway rap musical based on the life of the first Treasury secretary.
But the broader remaking of the nation’s paper currency, which President Obama welcomed on Wednesday, may well have captured a historical moment for a multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial nation moving contentiously through the early years of a new century.
Tubman, an African-American and a Union spy during the Civil War, would bump Jackson — a white man known as much for his persecution of Native Americans as for his war heroics and advocacy for the common man — to the back of the $20, in some reduced image along with the White House. Tubman would be the first woman so honored on paper currency since Martha Washington’s portrait briefly graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century.
While Hamilton would remain on the $10, and Abraham Lincoln on the $5, images of women would be added to the back of both — in keeping with Mr. Lew’s intent “to bring to life” the national monuments depicted there.
The picture of the Treasury building on the back of the $10 bill would be replaced with a depiction of a 1913 march in support of women’s right to vote that ended at the building, along with portraits of five suffrage leaders: Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony, who in more recent years was on an unpopular $1 coin until minting ceased.