Back in the U.S., the Women's Suffrage movement is connected to a new campaign to place the portrait of a woman on the twenty dollar bill. Here's an excerpt from a recent article about it in The New Yorker.
For decades, Barbara Ortiz Howard has owned an exterior-restoration business in Mount Vernon, just north of the Bronx; she is used to being the only woman among men. Several years ago, she began to think about another male-dominated part of her life, to which she had previously paid little attention: the portraits on U.S. banknotes. Each of the eleven denominations in circulation, from the one-dollar bill to the ten-thousand-dollar bill, depicts a man. They include eight Presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, and James Madison), two Treasury Secretaries (Alexander Hamilton and Salmon Chase), and the unclassifiable Benjamin Franklin. The people featured on the banknotes haven’t changed since 1929.
In the summer of 2012, she began toying with the idea of trying to get a woman on a banknote, but she didn’t quite know where to start. She e-mailed some friends (“HI SISTERS!” her message began) to ask them which women they would put on bills if it were up to them.
Among the e-mail’s recipients was an old friend of Howard’s, Susan Ades Stone. Ades Stone is a journalist, and she saw the potential for a serious campaign. Together, Howard and Ades Stone decided to mount an organized effort to put a woman on a bill by 2020, the centennial of women’s suffrage. They settled on the twenty-dollar note, not only because of its resonance with the anniversary year but because they thought that Andrew Jackson was the best candidate for removal from U.S. currency.
Howard and Ades Stone registered their nonprofit, called Women on 20s, and recruited others, including a co-founder of the National Women’s History Project, to join the campaign. Over several months, they built a Web site, and started a Twitter feed and a Facebook page. On Sunday, Women on 20s began inviting people to visit the site and vote for their favorite candidates to replace Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill; the choices include Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The women were selected from a longer list of a hundred names based on their societal impact and the difficulties they faced in pursuing their goals.
I asked Matthew Wittmann, a curator at the American Numismatic Society, which is dedicated to studying currency, what he thought of the campaign’s chances. He told me, “2020 seems doable, and Jackson seems like the low-hanging fruit as Presidents on the currency goes, so I think they probably have a shot.” (He also pointed out that, in the nineteenth century, before paper bills became prevalent, most of the money in circulation were coins that did picture a woman: Lady Liberty.
To read the complete article, see:
A Campaign to Put a Woman on the Twenty-Dollar Bill
For more information, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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