I read a comment that suggested that Harriet Tubman was not qualified to replace President Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. The writer explained that Tubman was a slave who had not ever achieved political office, which disqualifies her image from serving as the face of a monetary note. The writer believed that there were many great candidates of the Revolutionary War and Civil War eras who would make worthier candidates of that honor, and that preference should be given to former Presidents of the United States. To this comment, I would like to quickly reply.
In the last 120 years no image of a woman has been the face of a dollar note, and no image of a black person has ever had that honor. The writer might explain that this is because women and black people did not run for President of the United States during these two critical eras (Post-Revolution and Civil War). Neither did Franklin, nor Hamilton (who could not even run for President due to where he was born), yet their images reside on the $100 and $10. We understand that it is not necessary to serve as President of the United States have an image appear on a dollar bill.
So, why don’t women and blacks appear on dollar bills? Is it because blacks and women of the Post-Revolutionary and Civil War eras were not as brilliant as white men? Does that mean that they were not as engaged in the political process? Does that mean that they were inadequate to fulfill those responsibilities? To all these propositions I answer no. There were many women, blacks, and I will even add Native Americans who made great contributions to America during these eras. The reason until now that there is no woman or black person on a dollar bill is because the dollar bill reflects the values of the people and the government. For the greater part of America’s history, it is my opinion that America has not valued women and blacks. This is slowly changing, but resistance to the Black Lives Movement, and Donald Trump’s ascendancy to political prominence are evidence that America has a ways to go.
The last woman to appear on a dollar note was Martha Washington in the 1800’s whose photograph appeared alongside her husband George. This suggests that Americans once held in high regard this fine lady. There is no rule to suggest that the face of a dollar bill must be a president or even a politician. I miss the old French Francs. On the face of their fifty dollar note appeared the author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and an image of the cartoon character, Le Petit Prince. Others images on the old Franc included: Claude Debussy, Paul Cézanne, Gustave Eiffel, and Pierre and Marie Curie. There is no question in my mind that France values their artists, writers and thinkers.
While France values those outside of politics, America values their founding fathers who were all white men. Harriet Tubman represents a new way of thinking. She was born a slave in Dorchester County Maryland, and escaped her plantation. She used the Underground Railroad, which was a network of safe houses and travel routes for slaves to travel to the North seeking freedom. She returned to the South on thirteen missions, and rescued thousands of people from slavery. She was an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln, and was both praised and despised in her day, but her courage without question changed the lives of many for good. Never at any given point in her life was she ever considered rich by the standards of her day, and she quite possibly never owned a twenty dollar bill in her life. It is about time that America pays her back by giving her her own twenty dollar bill. This change suggests that America now values diversity, bravery, and the power of women.