Anti-Slavery Crusader Harriet Tubman To Become First African-American On US Paper Currency


Anti-slavery crusader Harriet Tubman will replace the portrait of the United States' 7th president Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill. A slave owner, Jackson's portrait will be pushed to the back of the bill, along with an image of The White House.

On April 20, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that the switching of portraits on the new $20 bill will represent two historic milestones in the nation's history.

Apart from being the first African-American on a U.S. paper currency, Tubman will also be the first woman whose portrait will be included in the national currency in more than a century.

"The front of the new $20 will feature the portrait of Harriet Tubman, whose life was dedicated to fighting for liberty," said the U.S. Department of the Treasury in an announcement.

The New $20

Tubman was born a slave in 1820 in Maryland. Following her 1849 escape from the South, she moved on to become a famous "conductor" on the Underground Railway and helped many slaves escape through a secret safe house network.

She helped hundreds of slaves from the South escape to the North. Tubman also served as a nurse, a scout and a cook during the American Civil War.

Tubman has become one of the famous anti-slavery crusaders in the United States' history. She was a celebrated humanitarian, abolitionist and Union spy in the history of the Civil War. In 1913, Tubman died of pneumonia. She was buried with military honors.

"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," commented historian Amrita Myers from Indiana University.

The last time a woman's portrait was depicted on a U.S. paper money was between 1891 and 1896 when the nation's first lady Martha Washington was featured on a $1 silver certificate.

In 1865 to 1869, Native American Pocahontas also made a brief appearance on a U.S. paper money. Sacagawea and Susan B. Anthony appear on dollar coins. Sacagawea was a Shoshone Indian guide while Anthony was an advocate for the woman suffrage movement.

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