Our profs’ picks for the best woman to go on the $20 bill
MARCH 29, 2017
In honor of Women’s History Month and the fight to get a woman on the $20 bill, we reached out to Learn Liberty professors for suggestions on great women whose achievements should earn them a place on US currency. So, in no particular order, here are five worthy women who should be on twenties:
Submitted by Prof. Sarah Skwire, Anne Hutchinson was an active religious leader and proponent of religious freedom in the American colonies.
As Prof. Skwire wrote:
I’d vote for putting Anne Hutchinson on the $20. Her home bible studies, her active preaching, and her theological disputes with established ministers put her into opposition to the Puritan leadership in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. She was convicted of heresy and of being an instrument of the devil, and she was banished from the colony.
After her banishment, she, her family, and her followers moved to the more religiously tolerant colony of Rhode Island.
That statue of her in front of the State House in Boston has a plaque that reads:
IN MEMORY OF
ANNE MARBURY HUTCHINSON
BAPTIZED AT ALFORD
20 JULY 1595 [sic]
KILLED BY THE INDIANS
AT EAST CHESTER NEW YORK 1643
OF CIVIL LIBERTY
AND RELIGIOUS TOLERATION
A rebel, an annoyer of government officials, a fan of civil liberty, an agitator for religious freedom.… I can’t think of a better person to put on a bill.
Suggested by both Dr. Phil Magness and Prof. Aeon Skoble, Jeannette Rankin was a relentless antiwar activist and the first woman member of Congress.
Dr. Magness wrote,
She was the first female elected to Congress, winning her seat almost four years before the extension of womens’ suffrage at the national level (Montana extended the vote to women before the federal government). Rankin’s most famous political cause was her steadfast dedication to pacifism. Rankin voted against the United States’ entry into both world wars, and effectively gave up her seat in Congress twice as the price of opposing patriotic war fervor. The first time resulted in her being redistricted out of her seat in 1918. After returning to politics in 1940, she similarly opposed American entry into World War II on the grounds that it would precipitate a draft and therefore forcibly commit people to fight in a war against their will. Rankin remained a harsh critic of the draft for the remainder of her life. She remained an anti-draft activist into her 90s and organized a march against Lyndon Johnson’s policies during the Vietnam War.
Rankin’s dedication to peace and individual rights would make her a wonderful candidate for the $20 bill.
Suggested by Prof. Aeon Skoble, Sally Ride was the first American woman to go to outer space. After her career at NASA, she went on to become a physics professor. She also co-wrote several books on space geared towards children with the goal of encouraging them to study science. In 2001, she co-founded Sally Ride Science, which encourages students, especially girls and minority students, to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.
Dr. Sally Ride’s historic journeys to space and dedication to science education make her a great woman to feature on US twenties.
Mercy Otis Warren
Suggested by Prof. Aeon Skoble, Mercy Otis Warren wrote criticisms of royal authority during the American Revolution. She wrote pamphlets, poems, and plays in support of colonists’ rights, and after the war she was a strong anti-Federalist.
With her outspoken advocacy of colonists’ rights and skeptical attitude towards centralized government at the time of the American Revolution, Mercy Otis Warren would fit in well among the founding fathers currently featured on US bills.
As part of the Women On 20s campaign, over 600,000 people cast votes on women to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, and Harriet Tubman was the winner. The famed abolitionist and “conductor” of the Underground Railroad helped guide over 300 slaves to freedom. She was also a suffragist, speaking and promoting votes for women.
In an article entitled “Let Tubman on the Twenty”, Prof. Sarah Skwire wrote:
Her work, and the work of countless named and unnamed others like her, assured that it is no longer possible legally to exchange a stack of twenty dollar bills for the body and the life and the future of another human being. Her work, and their work, means that the American idea of what constitutes “property” no longer includes other humans.
It’s not clear when or if we’ll see a woman on the US $20 bill, but there’s no shortage of worthy women whose accomplishments warrant a place of honor on our currency.
Cassie Whalen is a Writer and Email Coordinator for the Institute for Humane Studies. An alumna of IHS Summer Seminars, the Koch Internship Program, and the Koch Fellowship Program, she graduated… read more