On April 20 2016, Treasury Secretary Jacob J.Lew announced that Harriet Tubman will feature on front of the new $20 note.
Harriet Tubman was a slave from Maryland who was known as the “Moses of her people.” She was born Araminta Ross in 1820, Dorchester County, Maryland. She was one of 11 children of Harriet and Benjamin Ross, born into slavery.
Ross started work, when she was a child, as a maid for a small baby. Whilst she was a slave, she witnessed a man whipping another slave. The man asked her to help but she refused. This resulted in him throwing a stone at her head. She was unconscious for days and suffered from seizures for the rest of her life.
In 1844, Ross married a free black man named John Tubman. She changed her first name, taking her mother’s name, Harriet. She ran away in 1849, frightened that she would be sold. Her husband refused to leave but she left with her two brothers. They both retreated but she managed to reach Philadelphia and found work as a household servant. She saved money so she could help others to escape.
During the Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union army as a nurse, a cook, and a spy. She led slaves along the Underground Railroad and recruited former slaves to report on the movement of the Confederate troops. In 1863, she went with Colonel James Montgomery and about 150 black soldiers on a gunboat raid in South Carolina – they were able to surprise the Confederate rebels.
Tubman saved many people during her lifetime, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom in the northern states and Canada. It is believed there was a bounty of $40,000 offered for her capture. She refused to let others give up and in all, Tubman made 19 trips to Maryland and helped 300 people to freedom, including her elderly parents.
Harriet Tubman was quoted as saying , “I would fight for liberty so long as my strength lasted.” The Underground Railroad is now protected as a National Monument in Maryland.
She died on March 10, 1913, in New York, where she was buried with military honors. Her tombstone reads “Servant of God, Well Done.”
The reverse of the new $20 note will feature The White House and an image of President Andrew Jackson.