Why the U.S. Government Is Redesigning $20, $10 and $5 Bills

Why the U.S. Government Is Redesigning $20, $10 and $5 Bills


This is an image of what the Harriet Tubman $20 bill might look like, as presented in multiple news outlets. It is not the final version, which will be unveiled by the U.S. Treasury Department prior to its anticipated issuance in 2020.

The reverse of the new $5 will honor events at the Lincoln Memorial that helped to shape our history and our democracy and prominent individuals involved in those events, including Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr.

The reverse of the new $20 will feature images of the White House and President Andrew Jackson.

“We anticipate that final concept designs for the new $20, $10, and $5 notes will all be unveiled in 2020 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote,” Lew said in his open letter to the public.

Here’s some of the background about the new notes and the history behind them along with a quick explanation of why we redesign currency.

Harriet Tubman $20 bill

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew looks at a portrait of Harriet Tubman.

The front of the new $20 will feature the portrait of Harriet Tubman, whose life was dedicated to fighting for liberty. The reverse of the new $20 will display The White House and an image of President Andrew Jackson.


Portrait of Harriet Tubman. Photo Credit: Ohio History Connection (OHC), dated circa 1887 by H.G. Smith, Studio Building, Boston.

The Story of the New $20 – Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery. After she escaped, she became a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to freedom.

During the Civil War, she was active in the Union cause, serving as a nurse, a cook, and a scout, gathering intelligence.

Looking back on her life, Harriet Tubman said, “I would fight for liberty so long as my strength lasted.” After the war, she supported the cause of women’s suffrage and was active in suffragist organizations. She died in 1913 and was buried with military honors.

The reverse of the $10 will honor the heroes of the women’s suffrage movement and depict the March of 1913, a march for women’s suffrage from the U.S. Capitol to the steps of the Treasury Department.

The Story of the New $10 – Women’s Suffrage


Photograph taken of suffragists picketing at The White House by Harris & Ewing c. 1917. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The U.S. Treasury’s relationship with the suffrage movement dates to the Women’s Suffrage Parade of 1913 when thousands marched down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol to the Treasury Department in Washington, DC. On the steps of the Treasury Building, the marchers demanded an amendment to the Constitution enfranchising women. The new $10 will honor the 1913 march and the leaders of the suffrage movement—Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott—who were instrumental in the passage of the 19th Amendment.

The front of the $10 will continue to feature Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first Treasury Secretary and the architect of our economic system.

The reverse of the new $5 will highlight the historic events that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial and will include images of Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. The front of the new $5 will retain President Lincoln’s portrait.

The Story of the New $5 – Historic Events at the Lincoln Memorial


View of the huge crowd from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, during the March on Washington. Photographer: Warren K. Leffler. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

In the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln called for a “new birth of freedom,” urging Americans to do their part to complete, the “unfinished work” ahead.

The Lincoln Memorial has long served as a place where people gathered to complete that unfinished work.

In 1939—at a time when concert halls were still segregated—world renowned Opera singer Marian Anderson helped advance civil rights when, with the support of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, she performed at the Lincoln Memorial in front of 75,000 people.

And in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech at the same monument in front of hundreds of thousands.

Why Do We Redesign Currency?

There are two main components of currency redesign: Technical and Aesthetic

  1. The primary technical goals in the redesign of U.S. currency are to:
    • Ensure that U.S. currency employs unique and technologically advanced features to deter counterfeiting
    • Facilitate the public’s use and authentication
    • Provide accessibility and usability
    • Maintain public confidence
  2. The aesthetic goals in the redesign of U.S. currency are to:
    • Institutionalize our American history by depicting people, monuments, symbols and concepts that reflect the past and reinforce a theme for that particular era of currency design.

Redesigned $5 Note - 2006

SOURCE: modernmoney.treasury.gov/