When Will Harriet Tubman's $20 Bill Come Out? There's Some Bad News

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 17: 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 by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will announce Wednesday that Alexander Hamilton will stay on the $10 bill. The previously-announced move to put a woman on the bill will be commuted to the $20 bill, which currently features President Andrew Jackson. Politico reported that sources say Harriet Tubman will become the new face of the $20, but no official statement has been released. Instead of featuring a woman on the front, the $10 bill will have a mural of famous American women on the back, and the $5 bill will be redesigned to represent civil rights leaders. 

Some detractors are unhappy with the change from a woman on the 10 to a woman on the 20, because $20 bills will take longer to diffuse into the economy. CNN reported on Sunday that the new $20 bill may not be released until 2030, based on a senior government source. Although the Treasury Department does not release official timelines on bill redesigns, the original timeline of the $10 bill change was expected to introduce the new bills into the system as early as 2020. 

A change to feature a woman on the 10 was announced on June 17, 2015, just before the smash hit musical Hamilton, which tells the life story of the nation's first Treasury secretary, became one of the biggest cross-genre musical successes of all time. Many credit the show and its creator, Tony and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, for saving Hamilton's image on the bill

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Jackson has always been a perplexing choice for the $20 bill, particularly moreso in recent years, as the country has become more socially conscious. Jackson himself tried to ban paper money and get the country to return to the gold standard, so the irony of having him on one of the most common paper notes is both confusing and amusing. When the change to Hamilton's bill was announced, many were outraged that the founding father was losing his spot while the genocidal Jackson was staying on the 20. Now, Hamilton will retain his spot while Jackson gets the boot, to the delight of many. 

In a culture and country that often revolves around money, whose faces sit on our bills and in our pockets is an understated but important bit of symbolism. By honoring those who fought for freedom and equality, as well as promoting equal representation for genders and races whose place in history is too often overshadowed, the country can reflect its most important values in our daily lives. 

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