19th Century Abolitionist Wins Vote To Be First Woman On A US Dollar Bill

| by Jordan Smith
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Women on 20s, a campaign group calling for a female face to appear on the $20 bill, announced Tuesday the result of an unofficial vote to determine who its preferred candidate would be.

After tallying more than 609,000 votes, the group announced that the public had backed Harriet Tubman, a 19th century anti-slavery campaigner who worked for the Union army during the civil war. She was also the first woman to lead a U.S. military expedition.

Over the course of 10 years, Tubman made 19 trips along a secret route used to smuggle slaves out of southern states, known as the Underground Railroad. In total, she is estimated to have helped over 300 people to reach freedom.

The campaign group was motivated by the approaching 100th anniversary of women securing the vote in 1920.

“It follows that women should be honored with representation and memorialization on our nation’s banknotes; and specifically the $20 banknote as part of the commemoration of this Centennial,” states a petition that the group formally delivered to the White House Tuesday.

Currently, former President Andrew Jackson’s face is on the $20 bill.

While the power to make alterations to currency lies with Treasury secretary Jack Lew,  comments by President Obama last year seemed to indicate he would be in favor of such a move.

“A young girl wrote to ask me, 'Why aren’t there any women on our currency?' And then she gave me a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff, which I thought was a pretty good idea,” Obama told an audience in Kansas City in July 2014.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that Tubman was “a wonderful choice” for the competition. He added that he was not sure if the President was aware of the petition.

Tubman outvoted former First Lady and renowned humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights activist Rosa Parks and the first female Cherokee chief, Wilma Mankiller.

Sources: The GuardianIJReview / Photo Credit: IJReview