Accessibility links

USA

Harriet Tubman to Appear on $20 Bill

  • VOA News

Harriet Tubman is to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

Harriet Tubman is to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

African-American abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman, who led hundreds of slaves to freedom, will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew confirmed Wednesday that Tubman will be the first African-American featured on U.S. currency, and the first woman on paper currency in more than 100 years. He did not indicate when the new bill would be in circulation.

Lew originally announced his intention to put a woman on the $10 bill last June, but has since faced pressure from various groups and individuals to rethink the $20.

Andrew Jackson, the former president featured on the $20 bill, was responsible for the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which started what was known as the Trail of Tears — a forced migration on which thousands of Native Americans died.

WATCH: Americans react to news about Tubman

Tubman grew up a slave in Maryland. Born Araminta Ross in 1822, most historians believe she was taken from her parents and put to work when she was barely 6 years old. A brutal beating at the age of 12 caused her to suffer from seizures the rest of her life. She was a devout Christian and experienced visions and vivid dreams, which she ascribed to premonitions from God.

As a young woman, she married John Tubman. She escaped with the help of a white neighbor, who gave her the names of people who would hide her during her travels north.

Harriet Tubman returned to Maryland for members of her family and other slaves, making the trip about 20 times to lead more people to freedom. They traveled at night along backroads and waterways, and historians say Tubman would pull a gun on anyone who threatened to back out.

But Tubman will not be the only woman pictured on U.S. paper currency.

The $10 bill will be redesigned and released in 2020. The first U.S. treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, will remain on the front, but the back will include members of the women's suffrage movement, treasury officials said.

The back of the $5 note will have an image of singer Marian Anderson and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

FILE - A wax likeness of Harriet Tubman, renowned abolitionist and conductor of the Underground Railroad, is unveiled at the Presidents Gallery by Madame Tussauds in Washington, Feb. 7, 2012.

FILE - A wax likeness of Harriet Tubman, renowned abolitionist and conductor of the Underground Railroad, is unveiled at the Presidents Gallery by Madame Tussauds in Washington, Feb. 7, 2012.

Who was Harriet Tubman?

Born: In Maryland in 1822; was named Araminta Harriet Ross.

Marriage: In 1844, she married a free black man named John Tubman.

Escape: Accounts suggest at the age of 27, Tubman met an agent with the Underground Railroad, who helped her escape to freedom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1849.

Abolition: Tubman became an abolitionist, returning to the South to lead dozens of slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

Nickname: Earned the nickname “Moses” for leading so many slaves to freedom in the North.

Underground Railroad: A secret network of routes, private homes and other hiding places that helped fugitive slaves escape the South and flee to Northern states and Canada, where slavery was outlawed.

American Civil War: Tubman later worked as a nurse, scout and spy for the Union army during the Civil War.

Died: March 10, 1913, at age 91. She was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.

Slavery: The U.S. abolished slavery in 1865.

Some material for this report came from Biography.com, National Park Service

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG