In 2016, the administration of former President Barack Obama announced that it had plans to remove a controversial figure from our currency and replace it with a heroic freedom fighter.
Andrew Jackson, whose face adorns the $20 bill, would be removed and replaced by Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery from the antebellum south and helped free over 300 slaves after she herself found freedom.
Jackson, by contrast, was a slaveholder. At the time of his death, there were at least 150 slaves on his plantation, the Hermitage, near Nashville, Tennessee.
But the announced change last year may not come to fruition: President Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently stated that they are pumping the breaks on removing slave owner Jackson with slave liberator Tubman.
Mnuchin: Won't commit to keeping Harriet Tubman in the $20.
— Ylan Q. Mui (@ylanmui) August 31, 2017
“Ultimately we will be looking at this issue,” Mnuchin said in an interview earlier this week. “It’s not something I’m focused on at the moment.”
Mnuchin does have his hands full at the moment, as he and other administration officials plan a new push for tax reform in Congress. Yet announcing that he’s reconsidering the issue is something that doesn’t have to be announced at this time either: the final design wasn’t due to be completed until 2020.
Keeping Jackson’s legacy intact is likely a priority of Mnuchin’s boss, the president. Donald Trump previously expressed his dissatisfaction with the change as a candidate in 2016.
“Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill,” he said shortly after the announcement was made. He suggested Tubman would be better represented on a different denomination of money.
Trump has frequently touted Andrew Jackson since becoming president himself, describing him as a hero.
In addition to being a slave owner, Jackson is also criticized for enforcing a Congressional order removing thousands of Native Americans from U.S. territory, resulting in the Trail of Tears. At least 4,000 Cherokee Indians died between 1838 and 1839 in the forced removal. In order to enforce the removal policy, President Jackson ignored a Supreme Court ruling that viewed it as unconstitutional.