Update May 12: After 10 weeks of voting, the Women on 20s campaign announced that Harriet Tubman is the winner of its online poll. But they'll still need to convince the White House to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill."The plan," their website reads, "is to get as many people as possible to take to social media with the hashtag #DearMrPresident to send President Obama a resounding message for change." The campaign has some political momentum: Since the campaign launched, two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, have been introduced in Congress in support of putting a woman on the $20 bill.
When the $1 coin featuring Susan B. Anthony debuted in January 1979, it was a total flop. Small, silver, and round, it looked too much like the quarter, critics complained, making it hard to find in a crowded pocket. By September, banks stopped ordering the coins due to overwhelming stockpiles.
"Miss Anthony is having as rough a time breaking into the pockets and purses of America as she did breaking down its political processes 100 years earlier," A.O. Sulzberger Jr., now chairman of the New York Times company, wrote in the paper as a reporter at the time. More than 35 years later, a woman has still not broken into our pockets. (The Sacagawea dollar, released in 2000, was met with a similar collective "meh.")
"We did not want to politicize this. That was important to us."
America is the greatest force of capitalism in the world. Our money is our national identity, and the most visible venue we have for commemorating our heroes. Every day, millions get a glimpse of Washington, Jackson, and—if they're lucky—Franklin.