The Changing Face of American Currency


Jackie Cannon, Editor

According to the New York Times, on Wednesday, April 20th, United States Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced that the face of American money is about to change. Harriet Tubman will become the face of the $20 bill, and Andrew Jackson will be pushed to the back.

In addition, images of women will be added to the back of the $5 and $10 bills. Currently, the image on the back of the $10 bill is the U.S. National Treasury Building. Lew seeks “to bring to life” the national monuments, and will do so by featuring the march for women’s rights from 1913 which ended at the treasury. In addition, the images of Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Susan B. Anthony will be featured.

The back of the $5 bill, which currently features the Lincoln Memorial, will now portray various moments from history: the performance of Marian Anderson in 1939 after segregation prevented her from singing at Constitution Hall, Eleanor Roosevelt’s arrangement of this performance, and Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

In accordance with the centennial of the 19th amendment, the new design for these bills will be revealed in 2020, and the new $10 bill will be the first to be put into use later in the decade.

Interestingly, pop culture has played a huge role in the decision to change American money. According to an article on the Washington Post, the new Broadway Musical Hamilton, which earned a record number of Tony nominations and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, led to Alexander Hamilton’s image remaining on the $10. Fans support Alexander Hamilton as the father of the American money system, and believe his image deserves its place on the $10 bill.

These steps undeniably mark progress for America. Despite this, controversy continues. Alongside steadfast beliefs that Hamilton should be removed, many believe that women should be featured on more than one bill, and the choice should not have to be for just one of the many bills in circulation.

Despite various issues with the process, the decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill and feature other feminist and minority leaders marks the beginning of a new age for America in which all groups will be represented equally and fairly.