Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman would replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. As The New York Times reports:
Tubman, an African-American and a Union spy during the Civil War, would bump Jackson — a white man known as much for his persecution of Native Americans as for his war heroics and advocacy for the common man — to the back of the $20, in some reduced image along with the White House. Tubman would be the first woman so honored on paper currency since Martha Washington’s portrait briefly graced the $1 silver certificate in the late 19th century.
While Hamilton would remain on the $10, and Abraham Lincoln on the $5, images of women would be added to the back of both — in keeping with Mr. Lew’s intent “to bring to life” the national monuments depicted there.
The picture of the Treasury building on the back of the $10 bill would be replaced with a depiction of a 1913 march in support of women’s right to vote that ended at the building, along with portraits of five suffrage leaders: Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony, who in more recent years was on an unpopular $1 coin until minting ceased.
Of course, this announcement has caused Internet keyboard warriors everywhere to express their outrage/celebration across all sorts of mediums. Reason has a great article on why libertarians should be excited that Tubman is going on the $20 bill:
- She chose to live free or die and articulated that message for all to understand. "I had reasoned this out in my mind," she said, recalling the death of her master and the necessity of escape. "There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me."
- She exemplified higher-law theory, which holds that laws violating basic human rights are null and void regardless of the repressive superstructures created to legitimate and maintain them, and risked her life freeing about 70 other slaves as the "Moses" of the Underground Railroad. Her actions thus stemmed from a reading of rights that synchs with libertarian legal scholar Randy Barnett's discussion of limits on government power in his latest book. At the same time, she didn't advocate violence in the mode of John Brown, whose goal of ending slavery she shared.
- She believed in armed self-defense, a radical-enough concept for poor whites, let alone renegade blacks. During her Underground Railroad missions, she carried a pistol both for protection against slave-catchers and, reportedly, to keep ambivalent "passengers" in line. To this day, blacks have a strong and yet routinely overlooked belief in the Second Amendment, leading one historian to argue that "guns made the Civil Rights movement possible." The desire of relatively powerless minorities to arm themselves can still be heard in pro-Second Amendment remarks made by rappers such as Ice-T.
- She was a suffragette who, after helping slaves escape and working as a spy and scout for the Union in the Civil War, committed herself to women being allowed to vote and have equality under the law. According to Wikipedia, when Tubman was asked whether she believed women deserved the vote, she replied, "I suffered enough to believe it."
Sounds good enough. Hey, while there is all this discussion about the $20 bill, think we can channel that energy into discussing the fact that its value has been steadily declining thanks to the Federal Reserve?
Campaign for Liberty supports a full audit of the Federal Reserve. Learn why here.