Harriet Tubman $20 bill probe — The Treasury Department is launching an investigation into the circumstances that have led to a delay in the production of a new $20 bill whose portrait belongs to the civil rights activist Harriet Tubman.
In a letter to Senator Chuck Schumer published on Monday, Interim Inspector General Delmar explained that the investigation will be integrated into a broader examination of the project management processes of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for the design of a new bill.
“As part of this work, we will interview the stakeholders involved in the new note design process,” Delmar wrote.
In 2016, the Treasury Department announced that it would replace the effigy of former President Andrew Jackson in 2020 with that of the ex-slave defender Harriet Tubman. The update would have made Tubman the first woman since Martha Washington to appear on a US bill and the first time to be a black woman. But last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the redesign will be delayed until 2028.
The Tubman bill was expected to be published in 2020 as part of an initiative taken by the government of Barack Obama. But Mnuchin said such plans would probably be postponed until 2026.
Mnuchin defended the delay by suggesting that he focusing on improving security functions against counterfeiting, focusing first on the 10 and 50 notes and later considering a new redesign of the notes.
Senator Schumer called on the department to initiate an investigation last week, specifically requesting a review of “the intervention of other participants in the inter-agency process related to the redesign, including the Secret Service, the Federal Reserve and the White House, to ensure that considerations have not been allowed to interfere with the design process of the US currency. “
Delmar said the review will seek interviews with officials, including senior executives of Treasury, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the US Secret Service and the Office of Currency Technology Board. He added that it will take approximately 10 months.
“If in the course of our audit work we discover indications of employee misconduct or other matters that warrant a referral to our Investigations Office, we will do so expeditiously,” Delmar said.
Before being elected, President Trump criticized a redesign that would eliminate the image of former President Andrew Jackson, owner of slaves and whose policies prompted the extermination of thousands of Native Americans, and said the move was motivated by “pure political correctness.”
Jackson “represented someone who was really important to this country,” Trump said in a Today interview. He suggested that it would be “more appropriate” to place Tubman’s image on a different denomination note.
Tubman is perhaps the best-known underground network conductor. For a dozen years she made 19 trips to the South and escorted more than 300 slaves to freedom, to free states or Canada. And, as she proudly told Frederick Douglass once, during all her travels she never lost a single passenger “never lost a single passenger”.
Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland around 1820, from slave parents, her ancestors were purebred African, her birth name is Araminta Ross. She spent her early childhood with her grandmother, who was too old to work. At the age of five or six, her master Edward Brodas loaned her to a couple where she worked as a seamstress and was frequently beaten.
She then later became a housekeeper and babysitter. As was the custom in the plantation, when she was 11, she started wearing a light-colored bandana to indicate that she was no longer a child. Around 12 years old she takes the name of her mother, Harriet. She was sent to work in the fields. She was still a teenager when she suffered injuries that would follow her for the rest of her life. An angry white foreman gave her a blow to the head for refusing to help him arrest a man who was trying to escape.
Around 1844 she married a free African American named John Tubman who did not share her dream. Since she was a slave, she knew there would be a chance for her to be sold and her marriage was a dilemma. Harriet dreamed of traveling north. There she could be free and would not have to worry about a divorce made with the traditions reserved for slaves. But John did not want her to go north. He said he was good where he was and he had no reason to go north. And John did not want her to go north. He threatened to denounce her to his master. But listening only to her need for freedom, she left her husband and escaped to Philadelphia.
In 1849, in fear of being sold, with the other slaves of the plantation, Harriet Tubman resolved to flee. She left a night on foot. With the friendly help of a white woman, she found a first home on her way to freedom. At the first house she took a car, hidden under a bag, towards her next destination. She found people nice enough to tell her where to go to help her as she crossed the Mason-Dixon line (border between free states and slave states). Then she hitchhiked with a woman and her husband who was passing by. They were abolitionist and took her to Philadelphia. There, she found work and saved her money to help other slaves. She met William Still (1821-1902) who was one of the most energetic relay of the Underground Railroad.
Sill was a free-born black man in Pennsylvania who could read and write. He used his talents to interrogate slaves in transit and transcribed their names and stories in a book. Still published his book in 1872 under the title: “The Underground Railroad” in which he describes the efforts of Harriet Tubman. It is still published nowadays.
In 1850, with the help of W. Still, she helped her first slaves to escape to the north. She sent a message to her sister’s eldest son telling them to take a fishing boat to Cambridge. This boat would take them to Chesapeake Bay where Harriet was waiting for them at Bodkin Popint. Then Harriet led them to Philadelphia.
Harriet was officially Network Leader of the UGRR. This meant that she knew all the roads of the free land and that she had taken an oath of silence so that the secret of Underground Rairoad was well kept. She returns to Maryland to pick up her brother James and other friends. They were ready to leave as well. Harriet helped them cross the river and take refuge in Thomas Garret’s house, which was one of the most important relays of the Underground’s history.
On September 18, 1850, because of the “Fugitive Slave Act”, the North became dangerous for slaves. Indeed, this law stipulated that it was unlawful for all citizens to assist an escaped slave and asked that if an escaped slave was seen he or she should be arrested and surrendered to the authorities to ensure his or her return home to his owner. Any Marshall who refused should pay a fine of $ 1,000. Also the Underground took security measures. She created a code and sent escaped slaves to Canada instead of the northern United States.