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Harriet Tubman to Grace Ubiquitous U.S. $20 Bill

(CN) - Abolitionist and former slave Harriet Tubman has been selected to replace slave owner and former president Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, following 10 months of debate and speculation as to which woman would be chosen to be added to American paper currency.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced on Wednesday that Tubman would replace Jackson on the $20 bill, after initially committing to adding a woman to the face of the $10 bill. Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury secretary, is on the front of the $10 bill, and received an outpouring of support, due to his popular culture revival in Hamilton, the Broadway rap musical.

"The decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $$20 was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old," Lew said in a statement. "You shared your thoughts about her life and her works and how they changed our nation and represented our most cherished values."

Tubman's inclusion on paper currency represents two milestones: she is the first African American on United States paper currency, and the first woman depicted in 100 years. Martha Washington was on a dollar silver certificate from 1891 to 1896.

Instead of removing Hamilton from the $10, the Treasury building on the back of the bill will be replaced with leaders of the suffrage movement, including Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Alice Paul.

The Treasury had initially wanted to resign the $10 bill and include protections against counterfeiting.

Tubman was born into slavery, before escaping and helping to free slaves by using a network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, Tubman became involved in the women's suffrage movement. She died in 1913.

Jackson, America's seventh president, will be moved to the back of the $20 bill, and the back of the $5 bill will replace the Lincoln Memorial with be replaced with images of Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson.

Lew said that the changes to the currency should be finished by 2020, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

"Treasury's relationship with the suffrage movement dates back to the March of 1913, when advocates came together on the steps of the Treasury building to demonstrate for a woman's right to vote, seven years prior to the passage of the 19th Amendment," Lew said.

Several groups have been campaigning to get a woman honored on American paper currency.

Besides Martha Washington, the only other woman depicted on U.S. paper money was Pocahontas, from 1865 to 1869. Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea are featured on dollar coins.


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