Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support NHPR with your tax-deductible year-end gift today!

Treasury To Give $20 Bill A New Look


Andrew Jackson - or rather his portrait - is being moved to the back of the $20 bill.


On the front, his place will be taken by Harriet Tubman. So a slave-owning president displaced by a woman who was born into slavery who became one of the country's great champions of liberty.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And we have Susan Ades Stone on the line, co-founder of a group called Women on 20s. Hi, there.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: So tell me, you've been working on this for over a year. Is this everything that you were hoping for?

STONE: Well, we're pretty pleased with the result here. We were surprised that Andrew Jackson would be remaining on the bill. But, you know, we feel that, you know, this is the way the country would like to see our money changed. And Harriet Tubman is a fantastic choice. Six hundred thousand people voted in our online poll. She came out on top. And having Andrew Jackson remain on the back of the bill will be a great teaching moment when that bill comes out and people hear the story of, you know, the freed slave and freedom fighter on one side and Andrew Jackson, whose legacy was mixed and whose...

INSKEEP: ...Susan?


INSKEEP: Susan Ades Stone - yeah, the crowd is listening here in Knoxville with great interest. And they have sent up some questions on index cards about their home state politician, and one of them was about your campaign. Why was it so important to you, they - it's asked here on this index card - to get Tubman on the $20 bill specifically? Why did you target that particular bill?

STONE: Well, that bill is one of the most widely-used bills. It's circulated internationally. We see it every day coming out of ATMs. So you know, it's a very important bill. And we felt that women...

INSKEEP: ...But it's also something about Andrew Jackson, isn't it?

STONE: I'm sorry, what?

INSKEEP: But it's also something about Andrew Jackson, isn't it?

STONE: Yes. Yes, we felt that, you know, that place of honor was a place that he really no longer deserved.

INSKEEP: And so what kind of a teaching moment will it be? That's what you just said it would be eventually, when this happens in a number of years - that you'll have Jackson and Tubman together.

STONE: Well, we feel that Jackson's intolerance of, you know, of - well, he was responsible for the Trail of Tears. Thousands of Native Americans died because of his Indian Removal Act. He was a slave trader. And he was an opponent of paper currency in the federal banking system.

INSKEEP: Well, let me just ask this question, though, because his defenders - and there are still defenders of Andrew Jackson today - will say he is a Democratic hero who opened up the Democratic system. Do you give this guy at least some credit at this moment, when you seem to have won a victory over him?

STONE: Well, yes, I do. He was a populist, and he was a man of the people. And I do think that having him on the back of the bill will be, you know, an opportunity to learn about, you know, our history and the mixed legacies that many of our leaders left.

INSKEEP: Susan Ades Stone of Women on 20s, thanks very much.

STONE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.