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US to put Harriet Tubman's image on $20 bill

Published:Wednesday | April 20, 2016 | 1:17 PM
In this Monday, August 31, 2015, file photo, a woman holds a sign supporting Harriet Tubman for the $20 bill during a town hall meeting at the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has decided to put Harriet Tubman on the US$20 bill, making her the first woman on US paper currency in 100 years, a Treasury official said today.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of Lew's official announcement, said that the 19th century abolitionist and a leader of the Underground Railroad, would replace the portrait of Andrew Jackson, the nation's seventh president.

Lew's announcement is expected to provide details on other changes being made to the $20, $10 and $5 bills.

PHOTO: US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. – AP

The decision to place Tubman's portrait on the US$20 likely means that Lew has decided to keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, a victory for those who had opposed his initial plan to remove Hamilton.

An online group, Women on 20s, said it was encouraged that Lew was responding to its campaign to replace Jackson with a woman. But it said it would not claim victory unless Lew also committed to issuing the new US$20 bill at the same time that the redesigned US$10 bill is scheduled to be issued in 2020.

PHOTO: This April 17, 2015, file photo provided by the US Treasury shows the front of the US $20 bill, featuring a likeness of Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States. – AP

The US$10 bill is the next note scheduled to be redesigned to introduce updated protections against counterfeiting. That redesign was scheduled to be unveiled in 2020, which marks the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. Lew had often cited that connection as a reason to put a woman on the US$10 bill.

However, the effort ran into strong objections from supporters of Hamilton, who is enjoying renewed interest with the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton."

The expectation is that Lew will propose replacing the Treasury building, now on the back of the US$10 bill, with a mural-style depiction of the suffrage moment.