Skip to main content

Another 100 years for Andrew Jackson?

Did Andrew Jackson win the 2016 Presidential election?

With Donald Trump winning the White House Nov. 8 and naming his own Secretary of the Treasury early next year, the decision to replace Jackson on the $20 Federal Reserve Note could be revisited.

Back in April, President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made sweeping decisions about who should go on the nation’s paper money as it is redesigned in the decade of the 2020s.

Jackson was just one change.

The backs of the $5 and the $10 were also earmarked for alteration.

Jackson’s portrait has been on American paper money for a century and on the current size $20 since the Series 1928 Federal Reserve Notes were put into circulation in 1929.

Lew chose Harriet Tubman, a former slave, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate to replace Jackson, America’s seventh President.

Lew was reacting to a public pressure campaign from the Women on 20s effort that selected Tubman in an online vote in 2015.

In that year he originally had selected the $10 denomination for change, which has Alexander Hamilton on its face.

However, because of a popular Broadway play, the nation fell in love again with the nation's first Treasury Secretary.

Lew changed his mind and pinpointed the $20 for change as originally demanded by Women on 20s.

The group based its demand on the fact that Tubman had won its online ballot over three other finalists with a total of 118,328 votes, beating out Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Wilma Mankiller.

Lew decided to put five women’s rights activists on the back of a new $10, Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Hamilton was to stay on the face.

The women’s portraits would replace the current Treasury Building image on the back of the $10.

On the reverse of the new $5 would be Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King.

Currently, the Lincoln Memorial is on the back of the $5.

This monument would not be removed so much as altered, according to Lew's decisions.

Anderson was an African-American singer who appeared at the Lincoln Memorial in a 1939 performance after being barred from Constitution Hall.

The arrangement was the result of intervention by First Lady Eleanor Roosvelt.

Civil Rights leader Dr. King delivered his “I have a dream” speech from the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

The Women on 20s group hoped that the new $20 design would be ready by 2020 for the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.

All of Lew’s decisions were made in the context of the need to add more security features to the paper money of the United States.

That process will continue no matter whose portraits end up on the notes.

However, with a new Treasury secretary and a new governing philosophy in Washington, D.C., Lew’s decisions could be modified or reversed by the next Treasury secretary.

After all, Lew had modified is own initial decision less than a year after he had made it.

Jackson might yet stay on American paper money for another 100 years.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

• Like this blog? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News.