While all of Republican party presidential candidate Donald Trump’s remaining election opponents have come out in support of the decision to feature civil rights icon Harriet Tubman on the face of the $20 bill, Trump expressed disappointment in the U.S. Department of Treasury’s decision to bump former President Andrew Jackson to the back of the bill. “I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can come up with another denomination. Maybe we can do the $2 bill I don’t like seeing it. I think it’s pure political correctness.”
Recently, pressure has been mounting to remove Jackson from the bill. Last year the “Women On 20s” non-profit organization established an online poll where the public chose from 15 inspiring American women in history, including Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks. After getting edged by Rosa Parks in the opening round, Tubman led the vote in the final round. Overall, 600,000 votes were cast. Last May, the organization presented its results in the form of a petition to President Barack Obama, urging him to convince U.S. Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew to use his authority to push a new bill in circulation before the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020.
Lew calls Tubman’s story “the essential story of American democracy. So much of what we believe has changed for better for this country is reflected in what she struggled for.
“What she did to free people on an individual basis and what she did afterward that’s a legacy of what an individual can do in a democracy,” he said.
“It is just absolutely beautiful to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman, because where Jackson represented the worst side of American history, Tubman represents the best ideals of American democracy,” said Kari Winter, a professor who studies slavery and dissent at the University of Buffalo.
Meanwhile, Trump defended the seventh president: “Jackson had a history of tremendous success for the country; the $20 really represented somebody that was very important to this country. I would love to see another denomination and that could take place. I think that would be more appropriate.”
Susan Ades Stone, executive director of Women on 20s, in a CNN interview called Trump’s $2 bill comment offensive and further explained why Jackson is less worthy than Tubman, citing “his legacy of ruthless treatment of Native Americans, his slave ownership and trading, and his hatred for paper currency.” She also added, “Andrew Jackson’s legacy has really become tarnished to the point that he really shouldn’t be a symbol of what we aspire to, what we represent in this country. We are about tolerance and inclusion; he was about exclusion and intolerance. It’s time to update our image.”
Trump’s fellow GOP candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, praised the decision to honor Tubman on the currency.
“[Tubman] wasn’t some big shot,” Kasich said. “She became a big shot because of what she did. She saw something that she thought did not represent justice, she saw something she thought that was just patently unfair.”
Other denominations are making changes as well. The new $10 bill back will feature an image of the 1913 march for women’s suffrage, a march that ended at the Treasury Department. Abraham Lincoln will stay on the front of the new $5 bill, but while the old back showed the Lincoln memorial, the new back will feature depictions of Martin Luther King Jr.; Eleanor Roosevelt; and Black opera singer Marian Anderson, who famously sang on the steps of the Lincoln memorial in 1939.
Harriet Tubman is the first African American featured on American currency and the first woman featured on a paper note in over a century. The last woman represented on a U.S. note was Martha Washington on the $1 silver certificate. Other notable features on U.S. coins are Helen Keller, Sacagawea and Susan B. Anthony.