The Har­riet Tub­man $20 bill was far along be­fore work de­layed

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - News - BY ALAN RAPPEPORT

Ex­ten­sive work was well un­der­way on a new $20 bill bear­ing the im­age of Har­riet Tub­man when Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin an­nounced last month that the de­sign of the note would be de­layed for tech­ni­cal rea­sons by six years and might not in­clude the for­mer slave and abo­li­tion­ist.

Many Amer­i­cans were deeply dis­ap­pointed with the de­lay of the bill, which was to be the first to bear the face of an AfricanAme­r­i­can. The change would push com­ple­tion of the im­agery past Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s time in of­fice, even if he wins a sec­ond term, stir­ring spec­u­la­tion that Trump had in­ter­vened to keep his fa­vorite pres­i­dent, An­drew Jack­son, a fel­low pop­ulist, on the front of the note.

But Mnuchin, tes­ti­fy­ing be­fore Congress, said new se­cu­rity fea­tures un­der devel­op­ment made the 2020 de­sign dead­line set by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion im­pos­si­ble to meet, so he punted Tub­man’s fate to a fu­ture Trea­sury sec­re­tary.

In fact, work on the new $20 note be­gan be­fore Trump took of­fice, and the ba­sic de­sign al­ready on pa­per most likely could have sat­is­fied the goal of un­veil­ing a note bear­ing Tub­man’s like­ness on next year’s cen­ten­nial of the 19th Amend­ment, which granted women the right to vote. An im­age of a new $20 bill, pro­duced by the Bureau of En­grav­ing and Print­ing and ob­tained by The New York Times from a for­mer Trea­sury Depart­ment of­fi­cial, de­picts Tub­man in a dark coat with a wide col­lar and a white scarf.

That pre­lim­i­nary de­sign was com­pleted in late 2016.

A spokes­woman for the bureau, Ly­dia Wash­ing­ton, con­firmed that pre­lim­i­nary de­signs of the new note were cre­ated as part of re­search that was done af­ter Ja­cob J. Lew, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s fi­nal Trea­sury sec­re­tary, pro­posed the idea of a Tub­man bill.

The devel­op­ment of the note did not stop there. A cur­rent em­ployee of the bureau, who asked not to be named be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of the mat­ter, per­son­ally viewed a metal en­grav­ing plate and a digital im­age of a Tub­man $20 bill while it was be­ing re­viewed by en­gravers and Se­cret Ser­vice of­fi­cials as re­cently as May 2018. This per­son said that the de­sign ap­peared to be far along in the process.

H.B. LINDSLEY Li­brary of Congress via NYT

Har­riet Tub­man is pic­tured circa 1860 to 1875. Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said new se­cu­rity fea­tures un­der devel­op­ment made the 2020 de­sign dead­line for a new $20 bill fea­tur­ing Tub­man im­pos­si­ble to meet.

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