Opinion: Putting a woman on $20 bill might not be an easy task

Andrew Jackson in 1824. Painting attributed to Thomas Sully. Image from U.S. Senate

The Women on 20s group gained national attention with its effort to put a woman on the $20 bill but New York Times columnist Gail Collins says the work is from from complete:
Ah, Andrew Jackson. The perfect target. Slave-owner who came to national renown as an Indian-killer. Who, as president, made hatred of the national bank his big issue, while showing a certain fondness for state banks owned by his cronies.

On the positive side, he really loved his wife.

The Treasury Department hasn’t changed a portrait since 1934, when it honored Woodrow Wilson, whose picture you will find on the extremely elusive $100,000 note. All of our paper money feature white men, at least half of them slave-owners.

A website called Women on 20s recently conducted a poll to find a woman to replace Jackson. It was a great educational tool. (A high school class in Palo Alto, Calif., sent me their huge stack of make-believe money with brand-new faces of both genders. We will have to have a talk with whoever selected Tom Brady.)

But about the poll: Harriet Tubman won.

Pretty perfect. Replace the slave-owner with the escaped slave who returned to the South — again and again and again — to lead other slaves to freedom. These days “freedom” is a much-abused word, which gets applied to everything from capital gains tax cuts to office towers. But Harriet Tubman could get freedom back to where it once belonged.

So, we’re all happy, right? Harriet Tubman for Andrew Jackson. Best trade ever.

Get the Story:
Gail Collins: Tubman Versus Jackson (The New York Times 5/21)

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