A Nine-Year-Old Cambridge Girl Helped Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

By ·

Public Domain

Public Domain

A U.S. Treasury official said Wednesday that it would replace former President Andrew Jackson with abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, marking the first time in over 100 years that a woman has appeared on U.S. paper currency.

It all began last year with a letter to President Barack Obama, penned by a nine-year-old Cambridge girl named Sofia. She asked why there aren’t any women on American money, and offered a few prime candidates: Rosa Parks, Abigail Adams, and Tubman. Sofia’s mother shared the letter with TIME:

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to know why there aren’t many woman on the dollars/coins for the United States. I think there should be more women on a dollar/coin for the United States because if there where no woman there wouldn’t be men also there are many woman that could be on dollars/coin for the United State because of the important things they done.

Please write back.
Sofia.

Obama, a former Cambridge resident himself, agreed that changing this would be a “pretty good idea,” and invited her to the White House Easter egg roll. After all, it would only take an order from the Secretary of the Treasury, rather than an act of Congress. Secretary Jacob Lew is expected to make a formal announcement soon, detailing forthcoming changes to the $10 and $5 bills as well.

Born into slavery, Tubman was the leader of the Underground Railroad and a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War. She later fought for women’s suffrage. dying of pneumonia seven years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2016/04/20/harriet-tubman-20-bill-cambridge/