Women on Currency Notes in the United States
Harriet Tubman might appear on the $20 bill by 2020. She would not be the first woman featured on a US bank note though:
Almost a full century after gaining independence from the Imperial Crown, Americans first issue their one-dollar bill in 1862 as a Legal Tender Note (United States Note) with a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln:
Americans issue the first $5 bill in 1861 as a Demand Note with a small portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the right and an allegorical female statue representing freedom on the left side of the obverse. Americans issue the first $5 United States Note in 1862 with a face design similar to the previous Demand Note and a completely revised reverse:
American currency notes mostly feature portraits of named men for the first quarter century. Only unnamed allegorical women occasionally appear during this period:
This 1875 specimen actually shows a nipple. Woo Hoo!
Americans redesign the $1 United States Note in 1869 with a portrait of George Washington in the center and a vignette of Christopher Columbus sighting land to the left. Here is an 1880 specimen:
More unnamed allegorical women appear in 1880:
It was twenty years after passing the Metric Act that Americans first feature a woman, Martha Washington, on United States currency on the $1 silver certificate in 1886:
Here is a beautiful unnamed allegorical woman representing Liberty appearing in 1891:
Americans issue the famous Educational Series Silver Certificate in 1896. Americans cover the entire obverse with artwork of allegorical figures representing History Instructing Youth in front of Washington District of Columbia on the $1 bill. Americans feature portraits of George and Martha Washington surrounded by an ornate design on the reverse. The Educational Series include the $2 and $5 bills as well:
Americans issue a new $5 silver certificate with a portrait of Running Antelope in 1899 deviating from the monotony of featuring only pale face:
Americans issue a $10 bill with Lewis and Clark, three women and a buffalo at the turn of the century:
Americans continue issuing unnamed allegorical women when 1914 rolls around as you can see on the $50 and $100 bill:
Look at the pose of those three women on the hundred-dollar bill. Do you think the scene seems strikingly similar on the BIPM seal?
American women have only had the right to vote since 1920 thanks to the Nineteenth Amendment. It is fitting that we commemorate this Centennial by featuring a woman on the twenty-dollar bill by 2020.