After a period of speculation about who might replace Alexander Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill, the U.S. Treasury listened to Americans. What they wanted was to keep the founding father and recent Broadway star on the ten-spot and instead dump Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill. And the person they wanted to replace Andrew Jackson, a populist president who supported pro-slavery policies and is associated with mistreatment of Native Americans, was Harriet Tubman, a former slave who used her freedom to help other slaves escape, help the Union win the Civil War, and help other good causes such as women’s suffrage.
Tubman was born Araminta “Minty” Ross to parents who were held as slaves around March 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland. She grew to adulthood as a slave, eventually in her late 20’s escaping from slavery on her own following a failed attempt with her brothers. Tubman then spent more than a decade helping other slaves escape through the Underground Railroad, often at great risk to herself. Frederick Douglass once wrote in a letter that he knew of nobody except John Brown who had put themselves at more personal risk in the fight against slavery than Harriet Tubman.
When the Civil War broke out, Tubman gave her services to the Union, working in a variety of ways, including as a nurse and as a scout. Someone should make a super hero movie about her.
For a short 7-minute bio of Harriet Tubman, check out the following video. Such a short video does not come close to capturing the extent of her life, but it is a decent overview.
For a longer documentary about Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad, check out this History Channel documentary. Below is part one.
And here is part two of Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad.
The more you learn about Tubman, the more it makes sense to give her a national honor like putting her on the twenty-dollar bill. Looking back on her amazing life, though, it does raise one question. What took so long?
Leave your twenty dollars in the comments. Photo via public domain.
(Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)