7 Reasons Harriet Tubman is a perfect replacement for Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill

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Thanks largely to a successful social media campaign and a smash hit musical, Alexander Hamilton will remain on the $10 bill for the forseeable future. Instead of a woman replacing him, Harriet Tubman will replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. This is good news for several reasons, and beautifully poetic justice for several more.

1. The $20 is used much more than the $10.

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As of 2015, there were 8.6 billion $20 bills in circulation, but only 1.9 billion $10 bills. Having a woman, especially one as historically important as Harriet Tubman, on the $20 will mean more than 4 times as much visibility.

2. "Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?"

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As the insanely successful Broadway musical has reminded America, Alexander Hamilton was one of its most important and praiseworthy founding fathers. A penniless immigrant from the Caribbean, Hamilton fought in the Revolution and rose with sheer intellect and will power to be the first Secretary of the Treasury. He's basically single-handedly responsible for ensuring the financial solvency of the republic for its first generation. If anyone should be on American currency for the duration of the republic (or at least its fiat currency system), it's Alexander Hamilton.

3. Andrew Jackson was a despicable human being.

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The arc of history bends toward justice, and that arc has crushed President Jackson under the weight of his own atrocities. The worst among them was his forced eviction of Cherokee and other American Indians from their native lands in Southern states to the foreign plains of Oklahoma, during which thousands of people died.

The Trail of Tears isn't Jackson's only failing. As the first president elected by the Democratic Party, Jackson set the stage for the self-serving way both parties still play the game today.

Jackson was a major influence in turning the federal government into an engine of partisan patronage, setting the model for client-based governing that the Democratic party in particular has followed ever since. And his demagogy and politics of grievance remain dangers to this day.

4. Jackson owned slaves, Tubman freed them.

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As a businessman and plantation owner at the turn of the 19th Century in Tennessee, Jackson relied on slave labor for much of his success, owning hundreds of slaves over his lifetime. Harriet Tubman, on the other hand, was a slave in Maryland who escaped to Philadelphia in 1849 (four years after Jackson's death). After returning to rescue her family, she helped dozens more slaves escape bondage and journey to freedom and employment in the North and Canada.

5. Tubman was a Bad A** B***h

 

Once the Civil War began, Harriet Tubman joined the Union army as a spy, and later a nurse. She led raids on Carolina plantations that freed hundreds of slaves and destroyed key infrastructure in the South.

She also spoke out against Lincoln's reluctance to emancipate escaped slaves early on in the war.

Master Lincoln, he's a great man, and I am a poor negro; but the negro can tell master Lincoln how to save the money and the young men. He can do it by setting the negro free.

Later in her life, Tubman became a suffragette activist, speaking up and down the East Coast in favor of the next logical stage of civil rights progress, women's right to vote.

6. This:

7. Tubman asked for $20 to start her Underground Railroad.

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According to her first biographyScenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman, she asked abolitionist Oliver Johnson for $20 to help get her from New York to Maryland to free her family after hearing they were soon to be sold. She left with $60.

Of course, $20 in 1850 is worth over $500 today. So perhaps the only thing more perfect than Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 would be her face on a new $500 bill.

The only injustice in this whole affair is that the Tubman $20 won't even be revealed for another four years, along with several other new bills. The new design is scheduled to be announced in 2020. Maybe we need a new Tubman-like figure to speed that process along.


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