TWENTY-TWENTY-LATE

Don’t hold your breath for the Harriet Tubman $20 bill

America waits.
America waits.
Image: AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson
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The Jacksons in your wallet should be turning into Tubmans next year. In 2016, Jacob Lew, then secretary of the US Treasury, announced that the $20 bill would be redrawn to feature the abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman. The new version was set to be unveiled in 2020, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which led to women’s suffrage.

That grand reveal is now about eight years out, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said today. The new designs will likely be unveiled in 2028, due to security concerns that continue to delay the design process.

“The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee. “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.”

While it’s unlikely the delay has anything to do with Donald Trump, the US president has been outspoken in his dislike for the Tubman bill. In April 2016, Trump decried it as “pure political correctness” and criticized the decision to remove Jackson (who in reality would take up residence on the back of the bill). “Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill,” Trump said. “I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come up with another denomination.” Instead, he proposed featuring Tubman on the $2 bill, which is no longer printed.

If you’re still desperate to hold a Tubman note, there is one solution. Artist Dano Wall has produced a 3D-printed stamp that superimposes Tubman’s face onto the $20 bill. Wall told The Awesome Foundation:

I was inspired by the news that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, and subsequently saddened by the news that the Trump administration was walking back that plan. So I created a stamp to convert Jacksons into Tubmans myself. I have been stamping $20 bills and entering them into circulation for the last year, and gifting stamps to friends to do the same.

Stamping over Jackson’s face does not constitute mutilation of a bank note: US Treasury guidelines state that currency remains fit for circulation so long as its denomination remains legible—even if it has a stamp on it. Wall’s stamps can be bought online or, for those with access to a 3D printer, downloaded for free.