The Treasury Department said that the $10 note was next on its schedule to update the currency to add Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD). The ACD Steering Committee, an inter-agency group that monitors several factors that go into the maintenance of U.S. currency, suggested the change. The committee also wanted to add features that will help increase accessibility for the visually impaired as part of the court-mandated Meaningful Access Program. Treasury reports that the new note “will include a tactile feature that increases accessibility for the visually impaired.”
Others had recommended replacing the portrait of President Andrew Jackson on the $20 note with a woman. Aside from 20 being a significant number in this celebration, the groups targeted Jackson because of his history of wanton disregard for life and liberty. During the War of 1812, Jackson led U.S. Army troops against native tribes working with the British against the United States to regain the lands taken following the colonies’ independence. History records that Jackson’s troops were brutal against the native tribes on his orders, killing them rather than taking prisoners.
After beating back the British in the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson declared martial law in New Orleans and used his troops to enforce martial law. Jackson ordered his troops to arrest a local magistrate because he sided with a newspaper reporter who wrote negatively about Jackson’s rule. Jackson also had members of the local militia who sided with the British executed without trial.
As president, Jackson’s lobbied Congress passed the Indian Removal Act because he wanted the Native American tribes to relocate to the western side of the Mississippi River. Jackson disregarded the letter of the law and ratified treaties to uproot tribes and march them away. It was called “Trail of Tears.” It forced the relocation of Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations from their ancestral homelands in the southeast to an area west of the Mississippi River. It is considered the most violent and brutal act against the native tribes in United States history.
To have Jackson’sJackson’s portrait on the United States currency is also a bit ironic. Jackson was against the concept of a central bank and refused to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. He vetoed the bill to continue its charter. After winning the election in 1833, Jackson withdrew all of the country’s funds from the bank, limiting its ability to conduct business. He gave power to local banks to lend money and issued the Specie Circular, an executive order requiring government transactions in gold and silver coins (specie).
Although all of the men whose portraits appear on United States currency are very flawed people, Jackson is the worst.
Eventually, Secretary Lew sided with the activists and announced that Harriett Tubman would replace Jackson on the $20 Federal Reserve Note.
Lew resigned as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury on January 20, 2017, with the inauguration of a new administration. Steven T. Mnuchin became in as the 77th Secretary of the Treasury on February 13, 2017.
Mnuchin did not immediately interfere with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s efforts to redesign the $20 FRN. As the work continued, the BEP also continued to work on additional anti-counterfeiting measures for U.S. currency. Specifically, the BEP was looking into changes that would first impact the $10 note followed by the $5 bill.
The paper $5 note was a more significant focus for the BEP. In working with the U.S. Secret Service, they were finding that many counterfeiters were using bleaching products to remove the ink from the paper to use it to print higher denominations, predominantly $20 bills. One internal report suggested that the criminal would see a net gain of $14 for each $20 note they could produce.
Although it costs more to counterfeit $20 bills this way, it is a lower risk for the criminal. Few people pay attention to the problem, and those that do find that the currency passes the iodine pen test.
Interference from Mnuchin came after his first three months in office. It started with a question from a reporter who asked the president about the change. During a subsequent cabinet meeting, the president said something to Mnuchin about the change. Mnuchin agreed to do something without raising concerns.
Rather than stopping the process, Mnuchin diverted funds from the development of the proposed change in portrait. He was able to hide the change from the public because of the nature of the Treasury’s budgetary process.
In response to news reports, BEP Director Len Olijar issued the following statement via the bureau’s website saying that “BEP was never going to unveil a note design in 2020.” That was not the policy of the Treasury Department and the BEP when Secretary Lew announced the change.
Without interference from the current administration, Andrew Jackson, whose policies and actions led to the murder of many Native Americans, would have been replaced by Harriett Tubman. An honor to someone who saved lives and a tribute to 100 years of Women’s Suffrage.