In what is becoming an enduring tradition with every handover of the Oval Office, President Biden has been busy striking down several of his predecessors’ key executive actions, focused mainly on the pandemic, immigration, and LGBTQ rights. Today, the White House also reversed course on the previous administration’s reluctance to issue redesigned twenty-dollar notes featuring Underground Railroad operator Harriet Tubman.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the Biden administration is “looking for ways to speed up the process” of redesigning the twenty-dollar note to feature 19th-century abolitionist and suffragette Harriet Tubman. Though first announced in 2016 during the Obama administration, President Trump was not in favor of the redesign, once calling it “pure political correctness,” while going on to defend Andrew Jackson’s controversial legacy, which includes, among other things, owning slaves, ethnically cleansing indigenous people in the American South, and war crimes after the Battle of New Orleans.
According to The New York Times, a preliminary design was completed in 2016 by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (as is all US currency typically), with engravers and the Secret Service reviewing metal plates and digital images as late as May 2018. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had stated that a focus on new security and anti-counterfeiting technology had caused a delay, denying the stall was intentional.
Images of the 2016 design obtained by The New York Times feature a portrait of Tubman wearing a wide-collar dark coat and white scarf on the front of the note.
The White House offered no other details, nor a timeline for the new note, with Secretary Psaki noting that any additional information would come from the Treasury Department.