Friday, April 22, 2016

A brief history of the people on the $20 bill

We have recently learned that after 2020, the new face of the $20 bill will be Harriet Tubman.

As you will see in this video, the $20 bill has changed a lot since 1863, the year it was created. The first image represented in the bill was Lady Liberty, a representation of Freedom in the United States (which would also appear later as the Statue of Liberty in 1875). The second is Alexander Hamilton, who was an important politician at the beginning of the American revolution and the first Secretary of the Treasury. Then there were George Washington and Grover Cleveland, the 1st and 22nd Presidents of the US.

Andrew Jackson, who has been on the bill since 1928, was a controversial figure. As the 7th President of the US, he was responsible for the violent displacement of many Native Americans from their home under the Indian Removal Act  and, as a slave owner himself, was against the abolition of slavery. Many people felt very uncomfortable having him on the bill.

On the other hand, Tubman was born a slave in 1820 and was whipped, battered and mistreated since she was a young child. In 1849, she managed to escape and became part of the Underground Railroad, helping hundreds of others to do the same. She also participated in the American Civil War as a cook and a nurse, even as a spy. Later in her life she also became involved in the women's suffrage movement.

As you can see on this longer article on, this decision has also been controversial. What do you think? Is this a welcome change? Who would you like to see on your bills?

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