How to Get Harriet Tubman on Our Currency: A Modest Proposal

During the Obama administration, historians, feminists, and civil rights supporters were gratified when plans were announced to put abolitionist heroine Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, replacing President Andrew Jackson. The present administration, however, has neither followed through with the plan nor given any indication of whether it intends to do so, and it looks entirely likely that Old Hickory will retain his $20 place for years to come.

A Forlorn Hope?

Unless, of course, the current occupant of the White House can be persuaded otherwise. Hence my proposal: Why not replace President Lincoln with Harriet Tubman?

Now this, of course, may seem like sacrilege. But President Lincoln, after all, has the penny, not to mention the Lincoln Memorial, and if women want to get on the United States currency, we have to think big. Or, in this case, bigly.

There are all sorts of reasons that President Trump could be persuaded to remove President Lincoln from his $5 perch, but one in particular stands out: since our current leader famously said, “I like people that weren’t captured,” it stands even more to reason that he should like people who weren’t assassinated. A group, of course, that doesn’t include President Lincoln.

And one might ask, who was to blame for Lincoln’s killing? No one, really, but the Great Emancipator himself.

Think of it: when Lincoln was shot, he was carrying all sorts of useless things in his pockets, such as a Confederate note. What he wasn’t carrying, of course, was a gun. Major Henry Rathbone was likewise unarmed, as were Mary Lincoln and Clara Harris. (Mary Lincoln packing heat: now, that’s a thought!) Had he had reason to believe that any of the presidential entourage would be properly armed, it’s highly unlikely that John Wilkes Booth would have had the audacity to slip up behind President Lincoln and shoot him. As it was, what would-be assassin could resist such an opportunity?

Not a Single Good Guy With a Gun Around

Harriet Tubman, by contrast, carried a pistol with her for protection, and sometimes even a sharpshooter’s rifle. She, unlike Honest But Unarmed Abe, with his Confederate note and not one but two pairs of eyeglasses in his pocket, was no Second Amendment wimp.  And she, unlike him, died of natural causes.

So whom should we continue to honor: a man who got shot, or a woman who didn’t?

You decide.

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