News Release

Tubman, Jackson and the Honor of Money

ct-money-twenty-tubman-hamilton-jackson-201506-001AP is reporting today: “A Treasury official says Secretary Jacob Lew has decided to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, making her the first woman on U.S. paper currency in 100 years.

“The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of Lew’s official announcement, said that the 19th century abolitionist and a leader of the Underground Railroad, would replace the portrait of Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president.”

MARGARET KIMBERLEY, margaretkimberley at gmail.com, @freedomrideblog
Kimberley is editor and senior columnist at Black Agenda Report. She said today: “I have serious mixed feelings about this supposed honor. Slavery existed precisely because of the almighty dollar. How are we honoring her by putting her face on money?

“Tubman is deserving of great respect, veneration even. What she accomplished is unbelievable. She was a soldier and a revolutionary, a liberator. I no longer feel the need for acceptance from the larger society. Our heroes are ours and we can claim them without expectation or need that the U.S. government will give approval.”

DAVID S. REYNOLDS, reyn.sn at gmail.com
Reynolds is a distinguished professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center and is the author or editor of fifteen books, including Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson as well as John Brown, Abolitionist — and most recently,Lincoln’s Selected Writings.

He said today: “Andrew Jackson hardly had a corner on racism. And he reshaped the presidency to a degree that few American presidents have. By squelching secession, facing down monied interests, and, above all, promoting populist democracy, he set the stage for an even greater log-cabin president, Abe Lincoln, who, through similar strategies, saved the nation during the time of its greatest crisis. …

“Jackson did not cower, whether facing South Carolina or a hostile Congress or Nicholas Biddle, the eminent president of the Bank of the United States.”

Editor’s note: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew signaled last year that he would remove the first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, from the $10 bill. But Ben S. Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, objected. Bernanke instead suggested on his Brookings Institution blog that President Andrew Jackson be removed from the $20 bill — precisely because Jackson opposed prior U.S. central banks. Bernanke wrote: “President Andrew Jackson led the opposition to the Second Bank, vetoing a bill passed by Congress to continue its operations.”