By Hannah Brown, NOW Government Relations Intern
Woman on the $20 Bill? – Mark your calendars, folks. In 2020, to note the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, a woman (gasp!) could be featured on the ten dollar bill. Meanwhile, other advocacy groups strongly believe that honoring a historically-significant woman on the $20 bill is more appropriate.
A decision will be made very soon, and if you support a woman on the $20 bill, sign this petition. Close to 63,000 persons agree that a woman should be on the $20 bill and not the $10 bill!
Setting aside the fact that this is long (long, long, long) overdue, we are excited that a distinguished woman will finally be featured on a U.S. dollar bill. Several top contenders include Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Wilma Mankiller (the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation).
Few Women Have Appeared – Women have scarcely appeared on U.S. currency in its nearly 240-year history. On average, a woman is featured on U.S. currency one every 80 years, with Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea having graced the one-dollar coin and Hellen Keller appearing on the obverse of the Alabama state quarter beginning in 2003. This will be the first time that a woman (other than Lady Liberty, of course) has appeared on U.S. paper money.
The initiative to put a woman on paper currency came from Rosie Rios, the 43rd treasurer of the United States. Shortly after assuming the job in 2009, she decided that a woman should be featured on U.S. currency. Rios and other senior administration officials have avoided naming personal favorites.
Decision Made Soon – In June, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that a woman of historical significance will appear on the $10 bill. Secretary Lew indicated that the department has received more than a million responses as to whom should be featured. He indicates that a decision will be made shortly.
Jackson Should Go – The decision to put a woman on the ten is not without controversy. One organization pushing for a woman to be featured on paper money, WomenOn20s, intended to place a woman on the twenty dollar bill, not the ten. In their opinion, this would achieve two goals: first, memorializing a powerful, influential women in history on federal currency and removing Andrew Jackson, notable for his signature of the Indian Removal Act (essentially orchestrating the Trail of Tears, resulting in the displacement and death of thousands of Native Americans) and his disapproval of paper money and opposition to a central banking system (oh, the irony).
The ten dollar bill is due for a re-design for anti-counterfeiting purposes, according to The New York Times. This may have been the key factor in Treasury’s decision to focus on the ten dollar bill. In a July 4 editorial, the Times supported keeping Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill because he was the first Treasury secretary and creator of the foundation of the country’s financial system.
Sign the Petition – WomenOn20s has a new campaign to pressure the Department of the Treasury to put a woman in her rightful place, on the twenty dollar bill, instead of the ten (and to replace racist slaveholder Andrew Jackson, rather than Alexander Hamilton). Do you agree? Sign their petition today, and be sure to share your ideas with the Treasury Department before they make their final decision.