After considerable backing and forthing, the Obama administration announced April 20 that it will put Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill. She’ll be the first African-American honored on U.S. currency, and one of very, very few women to be given this honor -- even briefly. Martha Washington and Pocahontas briefly held this distinction, and Susan B. Anthony dollar coins remain in circulation, but are no longer minted.
Tubman, the famed savior of slaves via the “underground railroad” and a Republican, supplants Democratic President Andrew Jackson, who’ll be relegated to the bill’s back along with the continuing White House image. The quip of the week prize goes to conservative economist and columnist John Lott, who tweeted: “On $20 bill, Ds replace Andrew Jackson, a founding father of D Party, w Harriet Tubman, a black, gun-toting, evangelical Xn, R woman.”
Also fast on the draw was Religion News Service, issuing “5 faith facts” about this devout Methodist in a format the wire has used to good effect with various 2016 candidates. The facts:
Tubman was nicknamed “Moses” after the biblical rescuer because she led hundreds of slaves to freedom and attributed such bravery to faith in God. She experienced many vivid dreams and visions that she believed came from God.
Her favorite song in a personal hymnal she collected was “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” She believed that God directed her to go on the hunger strike that raised $20 to free her own parents from slavery. Her death-bed words in 1913 quoted Jesus Christ, “I go to prepare a place for you.”
It will be interesting to see how much the mainstream news-media coverage notes the powerful religious faith that drove this activist to glory.