In a few years, when you pull out a twenty to pay for a sandwich and a Coke (assuming inflation has not taken another spurt and you’ll need a fifty for lunch) you’ll be looking at a portrait of the venerable Harriet Tubman. That heroic fighter for freedom and human rights certainly deserves the honor, but – call me shallow – I’d rather be looking at Sandra Bullock.
The Treasury Department was under political pressure to put a woman’s face on paper money. The trouble is that by the time they had their portraits done, the heroines of American history had led stressful lives and it showed. Remember Susan B. Anthony scowling from the dollar, the coin that nobody wanted to use because it looked like a quarter?
Same goes for the heroes too. Think of Washington sternly gazing at you from the one. Having fought to establish and then ably leading a new country, he couldn’t manage a smile?
And now, some time after 2020, we’ll have Harriet Tubman on the twenty, looking grim. Among many other things she had done, she had served as an armed scout for the Union Army. Online you can find a picture of her with a rifle. And it is said that on her dangerous expeditions to free slaves and guide them north, starting with her own family, she sensibly carried a pistol. Maybe they could use that image when the money is designed.
Some of our other paper money is being redecorated too. Various leaders and events under the general heading of civil rights will get their place on some of the bills. Good.
But if we’re going to tinker with the appearance of money, something we have to look at several times a day, what would be wrong with adding some outstanding American beauty and style? (hh)