Sometime in the 2020s, an image of Harriet Tubman will replace the illustration of Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. Jackson has been the face of that currency since 1928. His depiction will go to the back of the bill.
Honoring Tubman in this way is highly commendable. An escaped slave, she ushered hundreds of others to freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad. Also, Tubman was a spy for the Union during the Civil War. Putting her front and center on the $20 bill could increase public knowledge of her life and achievements.
But here’s the reality: The nation becomes a more cashless society every day. There’s no reason to think that will change. Yes, cash is still king in some instances. (Buying from a food truck, paying admission to a nightclub and getting lottery tickets come to mind.) Yet in the next decade and beyond, electronic payments will undoubtedly be even more commonplace.
So this could be a case of “Sic transit gloria mundi” or “thus passes the glory of,” Tubman and all others shown on U.S. paper money and coins.
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