Time for Change. Harriet Tubman dollar bill change is commendable, reflects changing views of society.
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Recently, U.S Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew announced that Harriet Tubman will share the $20 bill with former president Andrew Jackson. Jackson will be moved to the back of the bill. The National Treasury redesigns the American currency on a scheduled basis to prevent counterfeiting and fix aesthetic issues. Although in the past this process has not called for much protest, this simultaneous promotion of women to U.S. currency and demotion of the former president from the front of the bill to the back has caused some commotion.
Originally, the Treasury Department proposed to add Tubman to the $10 bill. However, this proposal would have replaced Alexander Hamilton, so it was shut down because of Hamilton’s close ties to the banking system. Looking at our nation’s history, Hamilton may actually have the closest ties to currency compared to anyone else. Because of this, Tubman who escaped slavery and went on to help hundreds of slaves as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad made the $20 bill alongside Jackson, who was a well-known slave-trader and who signed into the law the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which allowed the U.S. government to forcibly evict Native Americans from their homeland.
In opposition, protesters like Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren have blamed the transformation for “dividing the country.” However, we completely disagree on a nonpolitical and somewhat unbiased level. Tubman is a good choice for the $20 bill.
We see this change as a slow, progressive evolution. The $20 bill started off as portraying Jackson as a national hero. Although he was a president and diligently served our country, he did have some major flaws that disqualify him from being a national hero. His support of the Trail of Tears forced migration of Native Americans, which resulted in both disease and death. Moreover, he was unapologetically in favor of racial divisions and slavery. At the end of the day, the bad outweighs the good. With the change to the $20 bill, the government is exchanging Jackson for civil rights activist Harriet Tubman. Through this change, the Treasury Department is insisting that the country has evolved to be more inclusive and diverse, so our currency should reflect that too.
To all those against this change, we understand that our heroes and role models aren’t exactly perfect. We get it; it’s human nature to idealize greatness. However, as society changes, our view of history changes with it. To be sure, great people can do horrible things, and at the same time, horrible people can do great things, but at the end of the day, it’s a balancing act. When judging the character of a prospective hero or role model, we should weigh in the good and the bad. Andrew Jackson was worthy of the $20 bill for many years, but now, with the progression of understanding, it’s Harriet Tubman’s time to shine.