Posted on January 26, 2021

Biden Administration Revives Effort to Put Harriet Tubman on $20 Bill

Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, January 25, 2021

The $20 bill is getting a new — but familiar — face.

The Biden administration will resume the process to replace President Andrew Jackson’s face on the note with famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during her Monday news briefing. A Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed the change.

Tubman will become the first Black person on the face of American paper currency and the first woman in generations; Martha Washington appeared on a $1 bill in the 1890s, and Pocahontas was in a group picture on the $20 bill in the 1860s, according to Reuters.

“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” Psaki said. “It’s important that our notes … reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that. So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”


The Obama administration announced plans to put Tubman on the bill in 2016, after she was chosen from among several women in an informal nationwide poll. President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin scuttled those plans in 2019.

Trump was a known fan of Jackson, an enslaver whom historians also widely consider responsible for the forced displacement and death of thousands of American Indians, and displayed a bust of him in the Oval Office.


He described the decision to include Tubman on the note as “pure political correctness” and suggested she instead appear on the largely ceremonial $2 bill.

Mnuchin in 2019 pushed back the release of the new $20 bill six years and said it might not include Tubman at all, even though a design of the note and a metal casting for printing was developed in 2018, according to a New York Times report.

A spokesperson said the Treasury Department does not yet have a timeline for when the bills will enter into circulation. Designing and releasing new currency is a lengthy process that includes considerations for counterfeit protection and ensuring compliance with note-processing machines at locations such as banks and grocery stores.

Tubman was originally slated to appear on the $10 bill, replacing Alexander Hamilton, one of only two non-presidents featured on American money. {snip} But Hamilton was spared thanks in part to the popularity of the award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Tubman was moved to the $20 instead.