Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Currency

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew proposed drastic changes to the depictions on the $20, $10, and $5 bills.

Black abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman would replace slave holding former president Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, and Jackson would be moved to the back of the $20. "Tubman would be the first woman so honored on paper currency."

Alexander Hamilton will remain on the front of the $10 bill as the father of modern economics, but the back would feature the 1913 march for women's suffrage, including the women's suffrage leaders like Susan B. Antony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth.

Abraham Lincoln will remain on the front of the $5 bill, and the back of the $5 will show Martin Luther King Jr.,  Eleanor Roosevelt, and black opera singer Marian Anderson, "who famously snag on steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939," in honor of the civil rights movement.

The new designs of the bills will be released in 2020 and will not go into circulation until a decade later.

There is some controversy over these changes considering that Harriet Tubman is replacing Andrew Jackson when she was a slave and he was a slaveholder. Also, some think it is ironic that a former slave is appearing on money when she was once bought with it.

Some women are pushing for more representation of women in prominent places on the bills. Previously, Lew stated that a women would appear on the front of the $10 bill, but it is unclear if that is the plan anymore. Some very successful women wrote a letter to the treasury stating that it would be “a major blow to the advancement of women” if that is not true.

What do you think about the new depictions on the proposed currency?
Do you agree that there should be more images of women on the bills?


Steven Lee said...

I think that this is great change. I love the fact that the Treasury Department did not just stop at the $20 bill but they went as far as plan to put leaders of the civil rights era on the back of the $5 dollar bill and women's suffrage movement on the back of the $10. That being said, I have some slight irritations. First is the fact that Andrew Jackson is not getting off of the $20 bill entirely. He is simply just moving to the back. Andrew Jackson deserves no praise and he represents a dark time in our great country's history. Yes, many people back in his time were slave owners but he was exceptional since literally had hundreds of slaves. Yes, many presidents kicked Indians off of their land, however, he was almost unprecedented with his brutality against Native Americans one example being the trail of tears :'(. I also believe that it is time for new leaders and prominent thinkers from American history to be on our currency. It would be nice to see Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson have their faces put on the currency one of these days. This news is a little disappointing to hear though since the policy will not be put in place until 2030.

Grant Hillman said...

I think out of the four options available for voting during the "Women on $20's" campaign last year, Harriet Tubman was absolutely the best choice, and it is fantastic to such a prominent freedom fighter as the new face of the $20 bill. The only negative I can see from these new edits to our currency is that at one point it does cross the line from something cool to do to honor prominent women in our nation's history to straight-up political pandering. Putting someone such as Tubman or Susan B. Anthony on a denomination of our currency because of their credentials and their critical achievements regarding women's rights in this country is understandable. But editing multiple bill designs "just because" is when I begin to question if the motivation behind this change is really attempting to honor someone such as Tubman for their accomplishments, or simply bowing to the mob for the sake of political correctness.

Elliot Quan said...

As someone who doesn't really care who or what occupies the central space on a twenty dollar bill, I welcome the symbolism of this change with just one reservation - while Jackson was responsible for the Trail of Tears and was a stark advocate of slavery, there is a certain rogue-like persistence and vitality around his character that is admirable of a US president, as was his determination to keep the Union together. That being said, while I welcome this change, I just hope that a mass-presentist public opinion doesn't spontaneously condemn Jackson to the pits of hell and trash his accomplishments while only pointing out his faults.

On a different note, I think Tubman is an excellent figure of American values. I can't think of that many significant figures with as much willpower as she had to defy all odds and commit her life to rebel against a broken system.

ETHAN CHAO said...

I feel very indifferent as to who's face is on the $20 bill, though it was awkward to have Jackson on a bill, since he hated this kind of money. It's great to see change on the bills, but having Civil Rights depictions on the back feels somewhat out of place, as we're used to seeing buildings. The idea of having more women on bills is great, but shouldn't be forced upon, as no one just stares at a bill for half a day, and lots of people use credit cards. I wouldn't be too happy if they replaced Franklin, Washington, and Lincoln, though. These men were very important to our country. Plus, I like to refer to the $100 bill as a "Benji".

Kristen Tamsil said...

I honestly do not care much about the historical figures whose faces are on the US monetary bills, not because I don't care of course, but I think that putting these figures on the bills just should not have mandated such publicity or debates. Some countries printed currencies feature natural wonders, or historical artifacts of national significance (pride). Of course we should put historically significant women figures in the US currencies as well as men. It's not limited to civil libertarians. They should include (women) nobel prize winners for example. Why not put historically significant, majestic animals of the past? I don't feel there is more or less value on the bills themselves. It's the denomination that matters.

TJ Bonbright said...

While the design of these bills is not a particularly important issue to me, I can understand why people might feel strongly regarding the topic. For one, there is the issue of Jackson and his treatment of blacks and Native Americans. Jackson remaining on the face of the $20 bill could imply that he reflects the views of the U.S. and that we accept his ideas and actions. Changing the design of the bill to better reflect the values of the modern day U.S. therefore seems like a good idea, so I welcome the proposal. I feel that the change offers an excellent way to honor someone who dedicated her life to doing good in the face of hostility.

That being said, I don't think of Jackson when I pay for my honey milk tea (with boba, less ice, normal sweetness). Money is still money.

Adjon Tahiraj said...

As a student, I think that the change of the 20$ bill should be made because of the great achievement of Harriet Tubman that have impacted our history in such a major way. I agree wiht grant that by makign all of these other changes to all the other bills makes these changes a lot less singnificant and it seems that they are being done just because. I think we should stick to faces only on the bills and put people there that have affected this country in a major way such as those already present. Also I think the addition of Dr. King is also a good addition, maybe set it back a bit so we can see how people react to the Harriet Tubman changes. And this also would give them both the equal apreaise they deserve.

From my prespective as a soon to be college student, I don't really care who is on the face of the bills as long as the choices are not completely irrational. I just think this whole thing is getting too much attention.

Christopher Duan said...

In terms of the illustrations and depictions on new bills, I believe that there should be no real difference between bills currently and the new bills. Our look of money now is sufficient as it is, and changing the layout e.g. moving Tubman to the front and Jackson to the back would just make our money look more corny and distracting. It would also look out of place with other bills.

I don not agree that there SHOULD be more women on bills. Having more of a certain sex feels like a strong push to change things that are working fine as they are. Though men and women deserve equal rights, etc., changing everything to be "politically correct" is too much.

Juliana Stahr said...

Very interesting post Tara! I had not yet heard about this proposal, but am very delighted to hear such propositions. It is about time that women start appearing on our currency. It is 2016 and we yet to have not one women on any bills or coins in the United States. I do think moving Andrew Jackson to the back of the twenty is smart. This could suggest that Americans may think less of him. If we are to put Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill, I strongly believe removing Andrew Jackson all together. I think the woman chosen to be on the twenty dollar bill is interesting. Harriet Tubman was a former slave and remains a hero to many in the United States. Do you think Harriet Tubman should be the next face on our twenty dollar bill or should someone else? I believe Harriet Tubman should be on our bills, but I do think we should consider other woman heroes such as Rosa Parks or Ida B. Wells. I do agree with the new depictions on the proposed currency. I do like the fact that the bill is not just showing a face. I think displaying more of the body is smart. Seeing what Ms. Tubman was wearing gives the public a feel for what the slaves wore, her body language, etc. Again, I strongly agree that women should be on bills, however, I do not think we should put women on bills because they are women. Anyone who has the honor of being placed on a bill should have impacted history one way or another. If we are to put women on bills, there must be some historic influence behind the person.


Rachael Howard said...

I do agree that there should be woman on the face of the bills shouldn't we really be worrying what is on the face of our coins?! Literally this is getting so much attention when it really isn't a huge deal. Like we as a nation have so many other problems we and our media should be focusing our attention on but no we are focusing on the faces on the bills. Also does this cost money to reprint all this money? If so how much?

Jong Lim said...

The new depictions on US currency doesn't make much of a difference to me, as I would normally use a card rather than cash. I feel it is much easier to use. However, I do understand the need for some women to push for previously unexplored areas than job justice, typically lower wages, and social discrimination. However, I do not think that currency is much of a large issue as there are better things to put time into.

As long as I don't get memes grafted onto my bills like Kappa, I will feel indifferent to the new currency, if it is implemented. I might as well keep a tenner because they will become discontinued.

Meghan Hilbert said...

As an American woman, I believe that putting women on the face of an American dollar bill represents a huge step towards full equality and true flattery. Although I have never had an issue with men on dollar bills, I believe the idea and actual initiative to have women on them is great. Women have and continue to do so much for the United States, and they should be the face of our country just as much as men do. However, I hope it is not more for America to show off their progressiveness and a marketing tool. If it is a genuine belief by the US government that women should be on the face of the bill, I think our future is headed in the right direction. I do agree with TJ though that it is just money, and that no one genuinely thinks of who is on their dollar.
I do see that America is being more conscientious with their new, accepting beliefs, and changing the dollar bill is a great way to continue.

Daniel Jun said...

I mean... you can't really say "I don't believe we should change the currency" without being singled out as a sexist, racist bigot. As a male American, my thoughts on this are more "does anybody even really think to themself 'oh, I remember that guy. He was a slave owner. I guess that means I should own some slaves too!' No.
What I'm trying to get at is that if people think that having the pictures of women or African Americans is a step forward in terms of social justice, then as an American who really doesn't care either way, I say "as long as the dollar still retains worth, I'm okay with whatever you people decide. Even though I believe that this is ultimately completely arbitrary."

Monica Mai said...

I'm very excited about this change, though a little disappointed the bills will not be in circulation until 2030. I think it's important to represent important historical figures on our bills. While it may be of trivial importance to some regarding who represents these bills, I think this is a good step towards equality because everyone uses paper currency which ultimately represent the face of the country. Personally, I believe that Andrew Jackson should be removed completely. There are so many important women and men with more positive impacts on this country that ought to be recognized. This improves America's testament to diversity and recognizes influential figures that have fought for the rights of all the citizens who live in America today.

Crystal Lee said...

I totally agree with Monica here, and a lot of what I would have liked to say has already been said–yay, equality!
Also, on some level, I do agree that changing the face of the bills is not an especially "big deal," yes, but I prefer to think of it as an effect rather than a cause, a testament to how much we've changed from the darker days of American history and also a testament to how much we're willing to change and progress into the future.
And some people have pointed out how no one really thinks about the legacy of the characters on our money as we buy things, earn our money, buy more goods and services. But isn't that part of the point? I mean, so much of sexism/racism/general discrimination/bigotry comes from the subconscious–when the default race of a character is white, when the default sexuality is hetereosexual, when we look at someone on the street and are more instantaneously, irrationally afraid of them than we would've been if their skin had been lighter. And so, when we have Andrew Jackson, not only a racist, but also one who carried out horrible, genocidal policies based on those bigoted beliefs, on our bills every day, what does that say about the American subconscious–at some level, embracing this symbol of rarely-spoken of genocide in America–and what does that say about how we treat people in the conscious world?
Beyond that, if you must think of it as insignificant, then think of it as a correction reflecting our current times and what really changed this country for the better. Fine–this is no great change, no great advancement, but rather, a sign of how far we've come.

Jeffrey Song said...

I agree with Elliot in that while it's definitely a step forward for equality symbolically and that Harriet Tubman is a perfect example of the spirit of American resistance as well as the power of a woman to change a seemingly immovable world dominated by men around her, it's not exactly significant in the eyes of the vast majority of the nation and the novelty of the change will wear away within a week or two. In my opinion, the more important aspect of this change is not the change itself - the switch from Andrew Jackson, an American hero in his own right despite all the hate against him, to Harriet Tubman - but rather the shifts in public perception of women and equality in the nation that this change represents. Times are changing, and though I wouldn't expect and wouldn't want bills/coins to change and shift to 'important women and men with more positive impacts on this country', this is a welcome change and one that I'm sure will be well-met by the nation.