Should Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh president, be worried? Is it true that his days on the $20 bill may be numbered?
At the moment, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is keeping details of his decision close to the vest while promising that “we’re going to have an exciting set of announcements” soon.
Treasury officials refused to comment Monday on a report from CNN that Lew has decided to keep Hamilton as the portrait on the $10 bill, and instead replace Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill with a woman who represents the struggle for racial equality.
CNN, quoting a senior government source, said that women will also be honored on the $10 bill, the denomination next up to for redesign, with a mural-style depiction of the suffrage movement that will replace the current drawing of the Treasury building.
Lew last week did offer some hints about where the decision may be headed in an interview with CNBC. He stressed that the government would not be just redesigning the $10 bill but also the $5 bill and the $20 bill.
“We’re not just talking about one bill,” Lew said. “We’re not just talking about one picture on one bill. We’re talking about using the front and the back of the bill to tell an exciting set of stories.”
Lew suggested that it wouldn’t be a woman’s portrait on the $10 note.
“We’re going to have a representation of the contribution women have made to our democracy on the next bill that’s issued,” he said.
Lew announced last summer that the government was going to incorporate a woman on the $10 bill, which would mark the first appearance of a female portrait on U.S. paper currency in 100 years.
Treasury received more than 1.5 million responses to Lew’s request for suggestions on the currency redesign. That prompted him to delay an announcement, which he had originally said would be made by the end of 2015.
An online group, Women on 20s, had been campaigning for a woman on the $20 bill. Jackson’s critics say he should not be on U.S. currency because of the part he played in the relocation of Native Americans.
Susan Ades Stone, the executive director of Women on 20s, said while her group has been campaigning for the change, it is concerned that the change could delay introduction of a woman on the currency for more than a decade.
“We think the projection of 2030 for issuing a new $20 bill is way too long,” Ades Stone said in an interview Monday. “We don’t understand why Secretary Lew can’t fast-track production of the $20.”
In a poll conducted last year by Women on 20s, Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist and one of the leaders’ of the Underground Railroad, was the top vote getter.
According to the group, Tubman received 33.6 percent of the vote, barely edging out former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (31.5 percent) by just over 7,000 votes in a final round that saw 352,431 ballots cast. Detroiter and civil rights icon Rosa Parks and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller ran neck and neck with only 5,470 votes separating them in third and fourth place respectively.
Lew’s initial announcement last year set off a firestorm of protests from supporters of Hamilton. They argued that the founding father had molded the nation’s financial architecture and should not be removed from his rightful place on the currency.
Hamilton fans got a boost from the interest generated by the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Earlier this year, Lew was personally lobbied by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author and star of “Hamilton,” during a meeting at Treasury. After their discussion, Miranda tweeted that Lew had assured him “you’re going to be very happy” with the decision.
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