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Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

May 18, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Washington’s latest symbolic battle is looming. America’s money celebrates its early political leaders, white males all. There’s now a campaign to provide for greater currency diversity. The group Women on 20s held a poll on what woman should be added: the victor was famed antislavery activist Harriet Tubman, who narrowly beat out First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Finishing further behind were Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights heroine, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female Cherokee chief.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time that a woman appeared on America’s money. Suffragette Susan B. Anthony graced the ill-fated dollar coin that was little used and quickly forgotten. The Native American Sacagawea later did the same and suffered a similar fate.

The Treasury Department is authorized to choose figures for America’s money. The administration has almost total discretion, since all that matters is that the person be dead. President Barack Obama indicated his interest in showcasing more women, encouraging feminist groups to rev up their political engines.

Republican legislators should take up the challenge and introduce a resolution urging the Treasury to add Tubman. There’s nothing sacred about the present currency line-up. After all, America was created by many more people than presidents and other politicians.

Andrew Jackson has had a fine run on the $20 bill. It’s time to give someone else a chance.”

Indeed, replacing Andrew Jackson makes a certain sense since he resolutely opposed a federal central bank. He likely would be horrified if he returned and found his visage gracing paper money for a system far more malign than the Bank of the United States, which he battled ferociously and ultimately killed. Tough, cantankerous, and short-tempered, he would make today’s denizens of Capitol Hill feel his pain.

Moreover, Tubman would be a great choice to replace him. She represents the best of America. She was born between 1820 and 1822 in Maryland to slave parents. She was christened Araminta Ross and her mother fought hard to hold the family together. Tubman was hired out and often beaten. She suffered permanent harm but her strong Christian faith helped sustain her. After her owner’s death in 1849, which led his widow to begin selling their slaves, she escaped through the Underground Railroad to Philadelphia.

However, a year later she returned to Maryland to rescue her niece and the latter’s two children, beginning a career of leading slaves to freedom. Frederick Douglass may …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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