The United States currency has shifted, changed and had facelifts over the last couple of centuries, from quarters made out of silver, steel pennies instead of copper, to more recent coin updates, such as quarters showcasing each of the fifty states on the back, re-vamping the back of the penny from governmental buildings to the “E Pluribus Unum” shield, and nickels getting an updated look with the Westward Journey series.
We’ve even seen updates on paper currency in the last few years, with security measures such as color-changing ink, enlarged images, strips and watermarks being added to make counterfeiting increasingly more difficult.
What's next for our national currency?
What’s up next in the U.S. Treasury’s plans for our nation’s currency? Let’s take a quick look at some of the designs that are coming down the pike and why they’re significant to our nation’s history:
- The new $20 bill will feature the face of Harriet Tubman when bills roll out. Ironically, this is an appropriate nod to Tubman’s legacy in America. In addition to being an iconic leader in the Underground Railroad and efforts to liberate slaves, Harriet Tubman served in the Civil War as a scout, a nurse, a cook, and even a spy for the Union. Harriet and her husband both served in the war, and afterwards, money was very tight for them. When her husband Nelson died, times became even tougher, and Harriet appealed— hard — for the post-war pension she was rightfully owed for her services in the military. Her appeal actually required a law to be passed to ensure she would receive the pension. The amount should have been the full soldier’s pension of $25 per month, but instead she received $20 per month. Andrew Jackson will still be on the $20 bill, but on the back instead of the front.
- Women's suffrage movement will be featured. The newest $10 bill will keep Alexander Hamilton’s face on the front of the bill, but the back will give a nod to leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, featuring images of Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Lucretia Mott, alongside the U.S. Treasury building, signifying where the march for women’s suffrage ended (going from the U.S. Capitol to the Treasury) in the March of 1913.
- The Civil Rights movement also earns a spot. The new $5 will retain Abraham Lincoln’s portrait on the front, but on the back, historic events that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial will be honored, and civil rights movement leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt will be featured. MLK, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of this memorial, and with the support of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, world-renowned Opera singer Marian Anderson performed at the Lincoln Memorial in front of 75,000 people at a time when opera houses were still segregated.
United States currency has always been a reflection of the country’s leadership and significant, historical events. These new updates will celebrate areas that for centuries now have been lacking and for which activists have been asking: symbols to represent advances for women in our nation, civil rights and diversity.
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