Donald Trump Says Harriet Tubman on $20 Is 'Pure Political Correctness' - NBC New York
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

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Donald Trump Says Harriet Tubman on $20 Is 'Pure Political Correctness'

Speaking on NBC's "Today" show, Trump said Tubman's likeness should go on a different denomination

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    Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Thursday that abolitionist Harriet Tubman is "fantastic" but she shouldn't replace former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill.

    He cited "pure political correctness" for the Treasury Department's decision to feature the African-American abolitionist — who was born into slavery and led the Underground Railroad — instead of the nation's seventh president, a slave owner.

    Speaking on NBC's "Today" show, Trump said Tubman's likeness should go on a different denomination.

    "Well Andrew Jackson had a great history and I think it's very rough when you take somebody off the bill," Trump said. "Andrew Jackson had a history of tremendous success for the country."

    He suggested that "maybe we do the $2 bill" or something else for Tubman.

    The currency redesign announced Wednesday by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, marks two historic milestones: Tubman will become the first African-American on U.S. currency and the first woman to be depicted on paper money in 100 years.

    "This gesture sends a powerful message, because of the tendency in American history, the background of excluding women and marginalizing them as national symbols," Riche Richardson, associate professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University told The Associated Press. "So even the symbolic significance of this cannot be overstated."

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    Lew also settled a backlash that had erupted after he had announced an initial plan to remove Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill in order to honor a woman on the bill. Trump echoed others who have said the Broadway show "Hamilton" saved the nation's first treasury secretary from being booted from that bill.

    Instead, the Treasury building on the back of the bill will be changed to commemorate a 1913 march that ended on the steps of the building. It will also feature suffragette leaders Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul.

    The back of the $20, which now shows the White House, will be redesigned to include the White House and Jackson, whose statute stands across the street in Lafayette Park.

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    The $5 bill will also undergo change: The illustration of the Lincoln Memorial on the back will be redesigned to honor "events at the Lincoln Memorial that helped to shape our history and our democracy." The back of the bill will include civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., along with Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt.

    Wednesday's announcement helped mark a decades-long decline in the reputation of Jackson, once a pillar of the modern Democratic Party but now often defined by his ownership of slaves and the "Trail of Tears" saga that forcibly removed American Indians from their land.

    Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement that the currency move was a "small but meaningful vindication" for Native Americans.

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    The last woman featured on U.S. paper money was Martha Washington, who was on a dollar silver certificate from 1891 to 1896. The only other woman ever featured on U.S. paper money was Pocahontas, from 1865 to 1869. Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea are on dollar coins.

    This file photo provided by the U.S. Treasury shows the front of the U.S. $20 bill, featuring a likeness of Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States and Harriet Tubman (inset), a former slave then abolitionist during the Civil War.
    Photo credit: U.S. Treasury via AP; Inset: Getty Images