In a huge boost of momentum for the campaign aiming to change how our $20 bills look, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen introduced a Senate measure for "Women On 20s" on Wednesday. The bill will require the Treasury Department to convene a panel of citizens to discuss the idea of replacing Andrew Jackson's face on $20 bills with that of a notable American woman. Aptly revealed on Equal Pay Day, Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, said in a press statement that the U.S.' paper currency reflected the country's values and history.
It’s long overdue for that reflection to include the contributions of women. The incredible grassroots support for this idea shows that there’s strong support for a woman to be the new face of the twenty dollar bill.
Noting the absence of women on paper currency, the "Women On 20s" campaign first put out a list of 15 potential female replacements for Jackson, who, in one of the most controversial acts of his presidency, strong-armed Indian tribes into relocating from their historically-owned lands so that white farmers could cultivate cotton. The website also stated the argument that Jackson, a fierce opponent of the central banking system who favored gold and silver coins over paper currency, is "an ironic choice for immortalization on our money."
The list has now narrowed down to four candidates on the final ballot — Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller (who possibly has the most badass last name, ever). Mankiller was added by popular demand for a Native American to replace Jackson.
A number of lawmakers have expressed approval of the campaign, among them President Obama, who said, during a speech about the economy in Missouri, that he "thought it was a pretty good idea." Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania also backed the campaign.
Women have appeared on American currency before — Susan B. Anthony was once on the dollar coin, though she was later replaced by Sacagewea — though none are on paper bills. So far, the campaign has amassed more than 256,000 votes across the country, according to the website. Ultimately, the Treasury has the final say as to whose image goes on the currency, which is where Shaheen's bill comes in. The citizens panel will share the results of its discussion with the department.
Though she has no particular preference as to who ends up on the $20 currency, Shaheen told The Washington Post that the list of candidates were "good," albeit "not in any way exhaustive." She added:
I think there are, going back to the revolution, lots of women whose contributions have been significant and have not gotten the same kind of attention.
But it's a good first step. As stated on its website, the campaign hopes to make the change by 2020, the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment's passage that led to women having the right to vote.