The New $20 Bill: Harriet Tubman vs. Andrew Jackson


Rewriting History

The phrase, “history is written by the victors’ has been used for many years to describe the tendency seen in many history books to ignore the narratives of common people and instead focus on the stories of the most powerful humans and groups. Andrew Jackson’s legacy in the United States for the past two centuries has often proved the truth in that phrase. However, with the announcement in mid-April that Harriet Tubman’s face will replace Jackson’s on the front of the 20-dollar bill, a small piece of history was written to honor a woman who was not a victor in the traditional sense.



Will The Real Andrew Jackson Please Stand Up?

Jackson, who would later be elected the country’s seventh president, rose to fame as a general in the U.S. Army. A combat veteran of the American Revolution by the age of 13, Jackson led his troops in many victorious battles for the U.S. during the Indian Wars and the War of 1812. As president, Jackson won many political battles, proving that he was a victor in many aspects of his life.

Despite Jackson’s many successes, though, critics point to the fact that he owned slaves and relocated thousands of Native Americans along the infamous Trail of Tears as proof that Jackson should not be remembered so fondly.



Harriet Tubman: An Inspiration To Many

Meanwhile, there is little controversy about Tubman’s life and contributions. After being born into slavery, Tubman escaped and helped many others to do so through her use of the Underground Railroad. Tubman is remembered as a self-empowered woman who fought back against the injustices of her time to improve conditions for many other enslaved African-Americans.


Jackson’s face will remain on the back of the 20-dollar bill, an honor that many argue he deserves. Still, the decision to honor Tubman on the front of the bill was an important symbolic step in recognizing that history is not completely written by the victors.


Some media may contain mature content. Discretion is advised when viewing with students.

ABC News Video of Jackson/Tubman Story

Harriet Tubman to Replace Andrew Jackson on $20 Bill

African-American civil rights activist and abolitionist Harriet Tubman will become the new face of the $20 bill, replacing former President Andrew Jackson, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced today, while Alexander Hamilton will remain on the $10 bill.

Vox Video explaining the controversy

Harriet Tubman To Replace Andrew Jackson On Front Of $20 Bill
Lesson Plan

LEARNING OBJECTIVE: This lesson will teach students how to compare and contrast in order to evaluate a political issue. Students will understand that arguments should cite evidence to prove a point. Students will use a graphic organizer to categorize evidence then use that evidence to write a two-paragraph essay.

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Lesson tags: $20 Bill, Andrew Jackson, Civil Rights, Eighth, Featured, Harriet Tubman, History, Ninth, Politics, Social Studies, Tenth

Francis Tolan

Francis Tolan Francis is a Special Education and Social Studies teacher in the Bronx, NY. He's a new father but he's not too far from being a child himself. You can find his writing about sports, pop culture, fatherhood, and general nonsense on his blog at