Harriet Tubman to Be New Face On $20 Bill

The heroic abolitionist escaped to Philadelphia in 1849.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

After a long debate over who would replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, the United States Treasury has thrown the country a curveball: Hamilton will stay where he is, while abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace slave owner Andrew Jackson on the $20 note.

Why the big change of plans? According to the New York Times, Treasury head Jacob Lew was apparently pressured to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill thanks to a dramatic resurgence in popularity thanks to the runaway Broadway hit Hamilton, a musical about the man who was the first Secretary of the Treasury and a signer of the United States Constitution.

A recent campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill led by the organization Women On 20s led to four nominations for candidates: Tubman, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of Cherokee Nation. Online polling declared Tubman the pick. She beat Roosevelt, 118,328 votes to 111,227. The new bill, which will be designed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, won’t surface until 2020, the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote.

Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in what historians believe to be 1820. (Her exact birthdate is unknown and could be as late as 1825). In 1849, she escaped to Philadelphia along with two of her brothers. She later made repeated trips to the South to free other slaves and became the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad.

While in Philadelphia, Tubman was sheltered at a Germantown home owned by an abolitionist family. Today, that home is preserved as The Johnson House Historic Site.

The Treasury department is expected to make an official announcement on Wednesday afternoon.

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