Money

Great News! Harriet Tubman Will Replace Andrew Jackson on the Front of the $20 Bill

Alexander Hamilton, meanwhile, will stay on the $10 note.

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Remember when Alexander Hamilton's face was going to be taken off of the $10 bill and replaced by a woman? Last summer, that's what Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said was going to happen. But no more! 

Instead, Hamilton will stay on the $10 bill, while Andrew Jackson will be replaced on the $20 bill by abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman, according to several reports.

The Treasury Department previewed the move earlier this week without naming Tubman as Jackson's replacement. According to CNN, a government source said that the choice would be to spotlight a woman "representing the struggle for racial equality."

Hamilton, meanwhile, gets to stay, probably thanks in part to the incredible success and popularity of Hamilton, the Pullitzer Prize winning Broadway musical. Just a few weeks ago, the musical's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, met with Lew to defend Hamilton's place on U.S. currency.

This seems like a much better outcome than the Hamilton-ouster Treasury toyed with last summer.

Beyond his current musical-theater-based popularity, Hamilton seems uniquely suited to be pictured on currency, given that he was the first Secretary of the Treasury. The slave-owning Jackson, on the other hand, was not only a rather unpleasant president in a lot of ways (his treatment of Native Americans was particularly noteworthy for its awfulness) he actively opposed paper money. It's hard to figure out why someone like this would deserve to be featured on currency, and, indeed, it turns out that Treasury doesn't even have an official explanation for why he was selected to go on the $20 bill in the first place. 

In contrast, Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist legend who led hundreds of slaves to freedom over the course of her life, seems like an excellent choice to appear on money. 

The changes won't stop with Tubman's replacement of Jackson: According to The New York Times, "Other depictions of women and civil rights leaders will also be part of new currency designs."

Update: Not surprisingly, Reason's Damon Root was way ahead of the curve on this one. He argued for putting Tubman on the $20 bill last year

Update 2: Tubman will replace Jackson on the front of the $20, but Jackson will remain on the back. And you'll have to wait a while to get your hands on the new bill: The design won't even be released until 2020