The Twenty Dollar Question

Written by Johnathon Goodenow. Media by Kayla Morton.

Harriet Tubman

Changes to American currency caught the public’s attention. Some are in favor of new faces on bills while others would rather them be left alone. Some even believe adjustments aren’t necessary.

The front side of the $20 bill is going to be modified. Andrew Jackson is going to be replaced by Harriet Tubman on the front and Jackson will be placed on the back with the White House. In addition, the backs of the $10 and $5 bills will also be redesigned.

The back side of the $10 bill will show leaders of the women’s suffrage movement on a march towards the United States Treasury. The leaders include Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Lucretia Mott. The back of the $5 bill will show Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial.

Hamilton Broadway Musical

Originally, only the $10 bill was going to be innovated. Harriet Tubman was being considered to replace Alexander Hamilton because the treasury department wanted to reprint the $10 bill for security reasons. However, a recent musical about Hamilton’s life resulted in a resurgence of his popularity and made the treasury department rethink their decision. Political pressure to make currency changes resulted in more diversity and caused the treasury department to make more sweeping changes across bills: the $20 bill being the most controversial.

The $20 bill is receiving contention because the front side is being altered. Some people compare this change to erasing information in history books. Despite Jackson’s policies, they contend that he is a part of American history and deserves to remain on the front. In addition, the news on currency changes and new and old bills being in circulation together will cause the public to wonder why the bills have different faces and who those people are. For example, when I was reading about women being added to the other bills, I had to look up who they were to refresh my memory. 

20 dollar bill
photo by: Kayla Morton

From a social standpoint, I disagree with updating the bills. Even though I am personally not a fan of Jackson (he ended the federal bank, was responsible for the trail of tears and created what became modern presidential campaigning), I don’t see why the government is changing more than the $10 bill. The $10 bill was going to be reprinted for security reasons, so it makes sense for them to update the bill while they were at it. The other adjustments may be good, but it costs money for the government to design and reprint. Since the modifications are purely cosmetic and have no bearing on solving current economic or political issues, they are simply unnecessary. 

Updating the bills and having more diversity in currency would represent the U.S well, and there are other historical figures who deserve their face on a bill. However, it would be more logical and beneficial for the treasury department to reprint when there are security reasons or the bills are too outdated.


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