You may have heard that anti-slavery freedom-fighter Harriet Tubman won the contest to put a woman on the 20 dollar bill. But now that she won, will she actually appear on one?
First, a little background: Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant, Franklin and Jefferson are the old fuddy-duddies – ere, founding fathers – who grace our money. There’s no law stating that our money can only feature white Anglo-Saxon Protestant dudes, but it’s been that way for as long as anyone can remember. Earlier this year though, a group calling themselves Women On 20s decided that it was time to replace some at least one of the old farts with a woman. Andrew Jackson seemed like the best choice for the axe, since his policies led to the deaths of thousands of American Indians. Also, as anyone who has ever used an ATM knows, twenties are everywhere.
Women on 20s pointed out that there are four times as many twenties in circulation right now than tens. They also have support from folks like Hillary Clinton. Earlier this year, the group released a longlist of about seventy women worthy of an appearance on currency, and after several rounds of voting it was declared that Harriet Tubman deserved the vote. Tubman beat out Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Wilma Mankiller in the final round of voting.
But even though Tubman won, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is the guy who makes decisions like this, and he recently announced very cryptically that a woman would appear on a new ten. Lew says that the ten is next in line for an upgrade because right now it lacks the anti-counterfeiting features of newer bills like the $100.
In what sounds like either a cop-out or a stalling tactic, Lew says that a woman will appear on the bill but that Alexander Hamilton will still be honored. Lew points out that there’s more than one spot on a bill where a person can be honored, although he declined to elaborate.
So even though Tubman won a popular vote by the people, who knows if she’ll ever actually make an appearance on actual currency. Bummer, eh?
The greater problem, of course, is that our money is BORING. It hasn’t been seriously upgraded since before the great depression, and it looks totally bland and lifeless when compared to, say, the partially transparent bills in Canada, the color explosions on the Swiss franc, or the forthcoming pixelated seascapes on the back of the Norwegian krone.