Published April 21, 2016
In American history, few individuals are more starkly different than Harriet Tubman and Andrew Jackson, says Kari Winter, director of UB’s Gender Institute.
“Jackson represents the worst side of American history and Tubman represents the best side,” says Winter, who studies gender and history. “He was pro-slavery, was horrible to women and was responsible for the genocide of Native Americans. Tubman represents courage, persistence, compassion and dedication to the common good.”
Now the two will ironically be linked, as the U.S. Treasury decided on Wednesday to put abolitionist Tubman on the front of the new $20 bill, replacing former president Jackson, who will be moved to the back of the bill.
Alexander Hamilton will remain on the front of the new $10 bill, officials announced, after pushback of the Treasury’s original plan to remove the founding father in favor of a woman.
It is much more than just the Broadway musical that has led to a surge in popularity for Hamilton, Winter says. Over the past few years there have been major biographies written about him and his popularity has grown.
“Hamilton is a romantic figure in so many ways,” she says. “He is one of the most interesting founders. He is someone who rose because of his talent. Conservative, wealthy people reacted against him because he was not of their class, but he’s fully appropriate to be on American currency.”
The same cannot be said of Jackson, Winter says.
“Jackson was a slave holder and a white supremacist who was involved in the removal of Native Americans and was completely opposed to paper money. He was horrible to women,” she says. “It is inappropriate to have him on any bill, so getting Tubman on the front is a great move.”