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April 21, 2016

Harriet Tubman replaces Andrew Jackson on $20 bill

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 Essential question

Why are women not already represented on United States currency?


The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that famous Civil War-era abolitionist and Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman will replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

The decision followed months of speculation about which famous American woman would be chosen after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced a plan to feature a woman on the $10 bill last June. Fans of Alexander Hamilton, the first treasury secretary who currently resides on the $10 bill, were quick to oppose his removal, causing the Treasury Department to reconsider the plan.

Hearing feedback from millions of Americans, Lew said he realized that just changing the face of one bill would not be enough.

“And once you start doing more things, it gives you the ability to tell more stories,” Lew said. He explained that changes will also be made to the $5 and $10 bills. Civil Rights activists Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. will be added to the back of the $5, while the back of the $10 will feature five famous women suffragists.

The new $20 will be released in 2020 to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.


Key terms

abolitionist — a person who favors the abolition of a practice or institution, especially capital punishment or slavery

suffrage — the right to vote in an election

19th Amendment — an amendment to the constitution that gave women the right to vote in 1920

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. Whose currently on the $10 bill and the $20 bill?
  2. What famous woman from U.S. history has just earned her place on the $20 bill?
  3. Who would you like to see featured on U.S. currency?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Do you think it matters if women are featured on U.S. currency? Why or why not?
  2. Why do you think Harriet Tubman was chosen?
  3. What is the significance of having civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. on the back of the new $10 bill?
  4. Why do you think more people advocated for the removal of Andrew Jackson rather than Alexander Hamilton?
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