Women get a place on paper money In this Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, file photo, a woman holds a sign supporting Harriet Tubman for the $20 bill during a town hall meeting at the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson, File/H.B. Lindsley/Library of Congress via AP)
Women get a place on paper money
Lexile

U.S. paper money is getting a historic makeover.
 
Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist born into slavery, will be the new face on the $20 bill.
 
Tubman was the leader of the Underground Railroad. Her image is replacing the portrait of Andrew Jackson. He was the nation's seventh president and a slave owner. His image is being moved to the back of the bill.
 
Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury secretary who's enjoying a revival thanks to a hit Broadway play, will keep his spot on the $10 note. There had been talk of his removal.
 
The changes are part of a currency redesign. The changes were announced by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. The new $20 bill will mark two historic milestones. Tubman will become the first African-American on U.S. paper money and the first woman to be depicted on currency in 100 years.
 
"This gesture sends a powerful message, because of the tendency in American history, the background of excluding women and marginalizing them as national symbols," said Riche Richardson, associate professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. "So even the symbolic significance of this cannot be overstated."
 
Lew also settled a backlash that had erupted after he had announced an initial plan. It would have removed Hamilton from the $10 bill in order to honor a woman on the bill. Instead, the Treasury building on the back of the bill will be changed. It will commemorate a 1913 march that ended on the steps of the building. It will also feature suffragette leaders Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul.
 
The back of the $20 bill shows the White House. The bill will be redesigned to include the White House and Jackson. His statue stands across the street in Lafayette Park.
 
The $5 bill will also undergo change. The illustration of the Lincoln Memorial on the back will be redesigned. It will honor "events at the Lincoln Memorial that helped to shape our history and our democracy."
 
The new image on the $5 bill will include civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. He gave his famous "I have a dream" speech on the steps of the memorial in 1963. In addition, images of Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt will appear on the $5 bill. Anderson was an African-American opera singer. She gave a concert at the memorial in 1939. She had been blocked from singing at the then-segregated Constitution Hall. The Lincoln Memorial concert was arranged by Mrs. Roosevelt.
 
An online group, Women on 20s, said it was encouraged that Lew was responding to its campaign to replace Jackson with a woman. But it said it wouldn't be satisfied unless Lew committed to issuing the new $20 bill at the same time that the redesigned $10 bill is scheduled to be issued in 2020.
 
Lew pledged that at least, the designs for all three bills will be accelerated so they'll be finished by 2020, the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. He said the new notes will go into circulation as fast as possible after that, consistent with the need to incorporate anti-counterfeiting measures in the designs.
 
U.S. currency has undergone upgrades over the years to stay ahead of counterfeiters. But the updates proposed by Lew for the three bills would be the most sweeping changes since 1929. That year, all U.S. paper money was redesigned. The bills featured more standard designs and a smaller size to save printing costs.
 
Lew had initially selected the $10 bill to feature a woman. That is because under the original timetable, it was the next bill to be redesigned. But that proposal met objections from supporters of Hamilton. He is enjoying renewed popular interest with the Broadway hit musical "Hamilton."
 
Tubman was born into slavery in the early part of the 19th century. She escaped and then used the network of anti-slavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad to transport other slaves to freedom. After the Civil War, Tubman became active in the campaign for women's suffrage. She died in 1913.
 
Numerous groups have been campaigning to have a woman honored on the nation's paper currency. The bills have been an all-male domain for more than a century.
 
Amrita Myers is a historian at Indiana University. She said honoring Tubman was appropriate.
 
"Not only is this going to be the first African-American historical figure on U.S. currency, but it's a woman specifically from the era of slavery," Myers said.
 
The announcement helped mark a decades-long decline in the reputation of Jackson. He was once a pillar of the modern Democratic Party. Today, he often is defined by his ownership of slaves and the "Trail of Tears" saga.  The practice forcibly removed American Indians from their land.
 
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement that the currency move was a "small but meaningful vindication" for Native Americans.
 
The last woman featured on U.S. paper money was Martha Washington. Her image was on a dollar silver certificate from 1891 to 1896. The only other woman ever featured on U.S. paper money was Pocahontas. Her image appeared from 1865 to 1869. Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea are on dollar coins.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 117 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why has paper money been an all-male domain for so long?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (24)
  • calebb-nic
    4/25/2016 - 12:31 p.m.

    Paper money has been an all male domain for so long because males were the figures of this country. Also males have been the dominant species for along time. Finally the founding fathers were all males.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    4/26/2016 - 10:29 p.m.

    Paper money has been all-male domain for a while because, for quite a while, men have always seen themselves as better than women. They always thought that women weren't important enough to be on the US currency. Plus, the fact that the US treasury is probably mainly operated by males doesn't help either. The article says, "The last woman featured on U.S. paper money was Martha Washington." This shows that many women have not been featured and mostly men have been on the dollar bills. I was surprised by this article because I didn't think they would put a women on the dollar bill for a much longer time.

  • alexanderc-6-bar
    4/26/2016 - 11:56 p.m.

    Paper money has been an all-male domain for so long because males were the figures of this country, also males have been the dominant species for along time. All of the founding fathers are males to. I thought this was an interesting article because I heard about this happening in Social Studies class and it is pretty cool that Hariet Tubman is going to be the first African American women on U.S. paper money.

  • nickh-1-nic
    4/27/2016 - 12:55 p.m.

    Because the country has always had Male figures. Also I think men think they are better than women sometimes even though it's not true. I think she deserves a place on paper money because she was a hero to many people a few hundred years ago.

  • allenj-
    4/27/2016 - 02:38 p.m.

    I think that they should leave the money like it is now. I understand why they changed it. This is O.K. though.

  • tiffanyf-1-bar
    4/27/2016 - 06:45 p.m.

    Paper money has been an all-male domain for so long because males were the leaders and founders of the country. In the United States, the dominate gender has been male for as long as the country has been created. Because the country was mainly created my men, many people believe that women are less powerful, therefore, women are almost never seen on US bills. The article states,"This gesture sends a powerful message, because of the tendency in American history, the background of excluding women..." I think this article is interesting because after all so many years of gender equality, there still hasn't been a women figure added to an US bill.

  • colleens-
    4/27/2016 - 07:46 p.m.

    Paper money has been a male domain for so long because they have been presidents and there was never a push for woman to be on paper money. They have been symbols of our nation.

  • calis-3-bar
    4/27/2016 - 09:29 p.m.

    America, although in the constitution it says all people are created equal, is not a place of complete equality. People of other races have been suppressed, as have women. This country was created by founding fathers, the constitution written by men. Women had to fight for rights that men were given for free. Therefore, in male-dominated America, women weren't even considered important enough to be featured on US currency, mainly because they have never been given the opportunity to do anything that MALE dominated society deemed worthy of being featured on money. Now, society has adapted and given women more rights, and acknowledged them more for the amazing creatures that we women are. So, society has reformed, allowing women to be placed on paper money.

  • vincents-1-bar
    4/28/2016 - 11:40 p.m.

    America, although in the constitution it says all people are created equal, is not a place of complete equality. People of other races have been suppressed, as have women. This country was created by founding fathers, the constitution written by men. Women had to fight for rights that men were given for free. Therefore, in male-dominated America, women weren't even considered important enough to be featured on US currency, mainly because they have never been given the opportunity to do anything that MALE dominated society deemed worthy of being featured on money. Now, society has adapted and given women more rights, and acknowledged them more for the amazing creatures that we women are. So, society has reformed, allowing women to be placed on paper money.

  • seans-2-bar
    4/28/2016 - 11:58 p.m.

    Nooooo, not another obnoxious question. Aren't you aware that women have been portrayed on coinage for centuries in other nations? If this was meant to refer to the USA then it would also condone an easy answer. The current faces on our money are all past presidents or founding fathers. So far women have been neither. And this is why so far women have not appeared on current US coinage.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT