Harriet Tubman 20-dollar bill
Photo: Getty Images

In 2016 the U.S. Treasury Department announced currency changes, including making a Harriet Tubman 20-dollar bill.

The former slave, abolitionist and fearless "conductor" of the Underground Railroad would be replacing Andrew Jackson on the face of the bill — he’d be moved to the back.

The new design was expected for unveiling in 2020, but now, the Trump-era Treasury Department might be changing its mind.

Former Treasury secretary Jack Lew told reporters back in 2016, "…for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman, Harriet Tubman, on the $20 note. Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embody the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates, and we’ll continue to value her legacy by honoring her on our currency."


The change is reportedly being shelved — for now.

Status of the Harriet Tubman 20-dollar bill

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote a letter to the Treasury Department asking about the Harriet Tubman 20-dollar bill, and the response Congress got was noncommittal.

"The redesign of the next currency series is still in the early stages, and neither the final designs nor all features have been finalized for the new notes," Drew Maloney, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote. "For this reason, the department is unable to provide additional information regarding the potential designs at this time."

Though praising Tubman for her "courage and persistence," Maloney added that the new bill — however it may look — probably wouldn't be released for another ten years.

"I am severely disappointed by the Trump administration’s failure to prioritize the redesign of the $20 bill to honor Harriet Tubman, and other trailblazing women and civil rights leaders," Shaheen said in a statement to the New York Times. "Now that plan has been shelved without notice or reason."

"I’ll continue to press the Treasury Department to expedite the redesign of the $20 bill," she continued, "and keep its promise to the American people."

Trump and Andrew Jackson

During the presidential campaign in 2016, Trump spoke of this currency change on the TODAY show. "I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic," he said, adding, "I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill."

Trump, according to Newsweek, hung a portrait of the seventh president (and slave owner) in the Oval Office and described him as "an amazing figure in American history."

Trump also remarked on SiriusXM in the spring of 2017 that, "had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War."

A few months after this, Steven Mnuchin, who replaced Secretary Lew after Acting Secretary Adam Szubin's short reign, said during an interview with CNBC, "People have been on the bills for a long period of time. And this is something we will consider."

"Right now," he stated, "we've got a lot more important issues to focus on."

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